James Went To Paris (Again)
Third time’s a charm, right? I think this was my third trip to Paris anyway, though possibly fourth if I’ve forgotten one.
And it was kind of special to be going there with my sister after the challenges of this year – if you know, you know.
Eurostar was the choice – I had 23 year’s worth of Nectar points that I could use, so that covered most of the ticket price.
Our hotel was a CitizenM – a compact room but with air conditioning that you control, lighting, a really comfortable bed, a powerful shower – and was designed to be social – there was lots of open space around the bar, staff were super friendly and it all felt welcoming, and funky.
You could perhaps suggest that staying on the edge of Nanterre two weeks after the latest riots was perhaps questionable, but we saw no evidence bar this upside down car:
The weather was kind of lucky too, going in the middle of July, given that roughly the same date in 2022 was close to 40’C – the typical British summer was also having a mild effect on Paris – hell, we even had a shower one day.
Friday was the hottest day, around 32’C, which happened to be Bastille Day – otherwise it was just warm and fair, with a shower or two on the Saturday. Perfect!
Did I Love The Louvre?
Our main plan for the Friday afternoon was to visit the Louvre, which was free on Bastille Day – if you booked ahead, as we did, and as many people didn’t who were being turned away. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH, FOLKS.
We got to see Mona Lisa, or at least a crowd of people looking at her. Otherwise I cannot say I was that bothered about the place.
Sure, there’s some impressive paintings and statues, but so there is at the National Gallery and I don’t really place these things in much context other than, “well that’s impressive art”.
They don’t particularly make me think. They don’t challenge me. I don’t connect with this kind of stuff – perhaps if I was interested in pre-1900’s history then I would get it, and maybe that will come in time.
I actually preferred the art in the tunnel which we thought was a short cut to the Louvre and absolutely fucking wasn’t.
OK, maybe I liked this face also:
Then we sat along the Seine – quite possibly the highlight of my holiday, drank beer, sat in the fading sunshine and just watched people. Which does mean admiring gorgeous Parisian women, but also a scattering of weirdoes that such a city attracts. It being Bastille Day it became really busy – and it later became evident that we were in a gay bar. No wonder the people were so friendly. Ahhh Gay Paris.
Oh and then we had a bang average steak:
Day 2 – Goujere & Pompidou
One thing you are not going to get from me is a load of recommendations on where to eat.
Paris is stuffed full of wonderful-looking restaurants at ordinary-looking prices – it really is an overwhelming choice, and many times we struggled to decide where to go. But we were impressed maybe on two occasions.
If you do take any recommendation from me then this is the one – a visit to Café Bogato, which is near Centre Pompidou.
This is a goujere – I’ve never heard of them, or seen them in London (granted I don’t often eat breakfast out). But this was a stunning bit of pastry – so melt in your mouth fluffy inside, with a good level of crust to contrast, but not a flaky crust. But the real joy – it tasted of cheese. Oooooh. La La.
They had a really cute shop next door too:
Then we went to the Centre Pompidou – which kind of looks like a swimming pool on the outside, but is a modern art museum.
The main exhibition is supposed to be like a trail from the beginnings of modern art to now – and it started quite slow. We possibly spent too much time on the first floor – as the second floor was far more impressive and out-there, yet we were perhaps running out of beans a little by that point.
Maybe you could argue that modern art isn’t that thought-provoking sometimes, especially when it is just a load of black paint on a white background, that anyone could do. But maybe also that is reason to think – why are you doing your miserable job instead of getting some absolute tosh displayed in Paris’ wonderful Centre Pompidou?
More Day 2 – Montmartre
Lunch was also modern art. Tuna tataki benedict with wasabi hollandaise.
Alas, there were about 8 visits to the toilet that night. Note to self – be less adventurous on holiday.
We then went to Montmartre – up the funicular, wandered aimlessly, went in a shop called Merde, considered buying berets, then found a craft beer place. And a cocktail place – not that I’m keen on cocktails, but absinthe can tempt one.
Then we had our now-usual struggle of trying to decide between 50 different great-sounding restaurants, by this time in Pigalle.
Dinner was decent, but nothing special – and I cannot even be bothered to post the photographs.
Then it was time to go back to the hotel, have a final beer, and then acquaint myself with the toilet. Not a fun couple of hours.
Day 3 – Eiffel Tower
It was with some trepidation that I approached the Eiffel Tower the next morning, given my bowel disturbances of the night before, but all was good in the end.
Well, except for the fact that once we got inside, we received notification that our tickets to the top had been cancelled. Cue some negotiations from my sister with the staff, and somehow we not only we were then ushered into the queue, but jumped a fair chunk of it. Cue mass jealousy from around 15,000 tourists all having waited hours – I just think of it as payback for y’all standing on the left side of the escalators.
I admit to being a bit sceptical in advance about the time and effort to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but the views were stunning – it was actually worth it. Though we decided against the little glass of champagne being worth €28, that you could buy at the top.
Another respectable but nothing special enough to post a photograph of lunch, was followed by a boat trip along the Seine. We bought bottles of beer from the supermarket to drink on the boat, thinking that I had a bottle opener on my keys. Which I do. But I left my keys in the hotel because who needs keys on a holiday?
That was probably the best photograph I took from the boat.
A bit more time spent along the Seine with sunshine and beers in our new favourite gay bar, then it was time to go meet our friend, Ellie, for a Sunday roast!
No, the roast was a bit naff – despite it looking promising. But it was a great little evening.
I do eventually get to see the friends that I promise to visit. Yes, I will eventually go to Dubai, I’ve almost run out of excuses.
Day 4 – Duck And Go Home
Final day and it was time to tick off some important things – some tower thing, a totally gorgeous beer in a craft beer place, and a homage to Michael Jackson.
Once you got inside the homage to Michael Jackson, the guy spoke effusively about him in broken English, and then tried to sell random second hand clothes for €2 a piece.
We had enough time for lunch – a visit to Canard & Champagne down this gorgeous kind of Victorian-era arcade, with numerous places that looked really enticing – and affordable.
My duck confit pie was only slightly bettered by my sister’s duck breast – both were gorgeous. Though the chocolate mousse, allegedly unlimited though I shamefully didn’t test this, was even more supreme.
How nice is it when you finish a holiday on a culinary high? Paris offered so much to dream about, in terms of food, yet rarely impressed. This did.
And that was that. Duck eaten, champagne drank (yuck), suitcase collected, Gare Du Nordmare somehow navigated.
There will be a 4th time. Au revoir Paris.