This is way overdue, we were in Paris for the second time in April with my parents and sister, and it’s already mid-July! Other travel and food posts are coming up for Belgium and Southwest England, but first, we go to Paris. Allow me.
So we were staying at Hotel Warwick along Avenue des Champs-Élysées, it was just a teeny bit old-fashioned, but it was clean, spacious, quiet and service was impeccable. Our room came with a king-sized bed which was more comfortable than my bed at home, unfortunately. Staying in a quiet street just off Champs-Élysées was fantastic because we were right smack in the middle of the shopping hotspots, metro stations were aplenty, and Arc de Triomphe was a 3-min walk from the hotel.
We traced the footsteps of Audrey Tautou in Amelie and took my family to Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, idled round the surroundings and listened to a harpist play whilst soaking up the sun. There was a carousel and children and dogs were all out to play in the sun, it was a really lovely day to be out. The basilique was beautiful, photography wasn’t allowed inside, so I’m afraid you would have to take my word for it.
Coincidentally, the basilique was our first stop when we visited Paris 5 years ago in 2005, when we first started dating. We took pictures on the steps, albeit on different sides flanking the basilique, we were single and now we’re married! I showed these two pictures to M and asked if he thought we had changed, he said ‘Ask your readers‘. I think that was his way of saying ‘Yes, oh gosh, we looked so….‘. Pardon the image on the right as I used to make my polaroids with Photoshop, captioned them and printed them out for M on our anniversaries, so that image looks incompatible with the format on the left.
After visiting the Basilique, we strolled over to Montmartre, where restaurants encircle an intimate gathering of artists painting, sketching and selling portraits of famous and us ordinary people and landscapes of the City of Lights. We had a terrible lunch here (I can’t emphasise more on the importance of doing food research, but it was difficult to keep to an itinerary when we’re travelling in a larger group), but made up for it with a long walk to Denise Acabo to get my precious Henri Le Roux salted butter caramels!
We took my family to Lafayette for a tea break, and went back to the hotel to rest as they were still jetlagged. Right about 7.30pm, we brought them to Tour Eiffel. I had purchased advanced tickets online and timed it to coincide with sunset (yes I’m anal like that), and still we had to join an insane queue. It was still way better than not having advanced tickets because the average wait for that would have been 3 hours, but I was so worried that we were going to miss the sunset! Thankfully we got up there in time for twilight. Dad has been to Paris, but it was the first visit for Mum and my sister, so I was eager to see their reactions. Turned out it was too darn cold for them, and they hid inside the glass-walled core most of the time!
This time, I was armed with a much better camera, and managed to get some pretty good night shots of the amazing view from Tour Eiffel.
Also managed to get steady pictures of the tower without a tripod, this has absolutely nothing to do with my skills and everything to do with my camera.
Tour Eiffel bursts into brilliant sparkles at certain times in the night, so look out for it!
My family was deadbeat when we were finished with Tour Eiffel, so we had McDonald’s takeaway for dinner back in the hotel rooms (mind you, a dinner like that cost us €40, which is pretty insane for fast food).
We had an early night, and the next day, we treated ourselves to some Jean-Paul Hevin macarons and Paul pastries for breakfast. We bought the macarons from Lafayette the day before, and they were good, but didn’t blow my mind away. They cost almost as much as Pierre Hermé ones and I’d much rather you pay a little extra for the latter. After breakie, we did the touristy thing and headed over to Notre-Dame cathedral, where we fought gales to steal a glimpse of the Crown of Thorns on Good Friday. Then I dragged my poor family and their blistered feet to Pierre Hermé to try the best macarons in the world and of course we stumbled on Pierre Hermé’s big fat secret which aren’t macarons. Very cool.
I didn’t take very many pictures for the remaining two days in our trip. We visited Versailles which was breath-taking as always, and marvelled at Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We shopped and snagged some designer stuff at unbelievable prices. We still had bad meals (some of us ended up having icky kidneys because we can’t read French and the waitress couldn’t speak English) except for some very heart-warming Chinese ones thanks to the kind Vietnamese-Chinese boss from Élysées Bonheur. The food wasn’t cooked to the most authentic standards, but it was decent (much much better than McD in Paris!) and it was so incredibly nice to meet a person who is kind, warm, hospitable and generous on our trip. He treated us to so many extra dishes, and when we got takeouts from him, he even gave us proper non-disposable chopsticks and told us there was no need to bring them back.
So as you can see here, we didn’t have a very exciting, gastronomical trip as I would have preferred, but a number of things made it memorable. Being with my family, taking them to all the places we’ve visited, going on macaron adventures, discovering salted butter caramels, visiting the places that we went to when we started dating five years ago…I thought these made up for blistered feet and everything that wasn’t.
We would still like to return to Paris for the third time, even though we haven’t had much luck with good food in our first two visits. When we do so, we hope for it to be a gastronomical trip, and yes, more shopping please!