In August 2017 I spent a long weekend in Paris having only been once before – where we stayed at a friend’s apartment and I was keen to explore the city some more.
Getting to France is really easy especially if you live near London you have the option of getting the Eurostar to Paris, which something which I would love to do one day. However taking into account the train to St Pancras would mean that for me the Eurostar becomes too expensive. So flying from Newcastle into Charles de Gaul airport only took 1hr 45mins. So taking off at 6am meant that I could arrive at 9am and have the whole day to explore – once I had found my hotel of course!
Transport at Charles De Gaul
I am not known for my sense of direction. Yes really. I can get lost anywhere (thank God for google maps!)
Initially it may seem daunting to get public transport from the airport to the centre of Paris but being a solo traveller a €30+ taxi ride was not going to happen! (Plus we have all seen ‘Taken’ with Liam Neeson!)
Charles De Gaul is a huge airport and not the easiest to navigate! However after tracking down the route to the hotel it was really simple, taking the RER B and the metro to the nearest stop cost €10.30 and took around 1 hour, there were plenty of seats and everything ran on time.
There was a massive queue for the ticket machines however I took a loop around the area and found a section of ticket machines that didn’t have a queue – it pays to look around and not follow the crowd! It is also worth mentioning that staff are on hand to help if you need assistance with ticket options.
If my trip from the airport to the hotel was stress-free my time on the Paris metro system lived up to that. I found the whole system easy to use, clean and cheap. See here for a map of the metro. There are numerous stops throughout the city so you will never be far from a metro.
I preferred to walk to most places as its free (obviously!) and it means that you can wander where you please and discover something unexpected. Walking along the winding streets with beautiful doorways and magnificent architecture is really what it is all about, and stopping off for a macaron or two on the way!
Finding the right hotel for any city break can be tricky, especially if you have never visited the city before. So those who might not be aware Paris is broken up into 20 arrondissements which are the administrative districts of the city.
Many people imagine that you can find a hotel that is ‘in the centre’ of Paris, this is not the case. The major tourist attractions are spread around the city and unless you are only wanting to visit 1 or 2, you will have to make your way around the city, which is really easy to do. The map below shows the arrondissements and the popular destinations.
As you can see Paris has something in every corner of the city. So the questions remains where to stay?
Les Matins de Paris
So when I was looking for a cool place to stay, being a solo traveller I knew that I would be spending a little longer in my hotel and wanted a place that has a more ‘luxury’ feel for my budget. When I discovered the Hotel Les Matins de Paris I knew this was the place for me.
Located in the 9th arrondissement, Hotel Les Matins de Paris is situated just off Rue des Martyrs a street which is considered a hidden gem of Paris. Laced with independent retailers and it has the protection of the city where no multi-national chains can move in to (along with other streets in Paris.) This area has a ‘local village’ feel and boy did I fall in love with the area.
The hotel itself has spacious rooms and some rooms also have a private terrace. The terrace itself needed a little TLC but it was a welcome addition to give the room more space.
Included in the hotel is access to the spa! This is just what you need after a long day walking around. The pool is on the small side but a welcome relief on a hot Parisian day. If you speak to reception beforehand they can turn on the steam room so that it is ready when you go into the spa. When I was in the pool I was the only person there and it was so tranquil.
The South Pigalle area (where the hotel is situated) is located between 18th and 9th arrondissements with Sacre Coeur at the top of the hill dominating the area. Generally I felt safe in and around the hotel, the staff were super friendly, really helpful and wanting to give you the best experience of Paris. They were able to provide directions, advice and seemed genuinely interested in how my day went and if I had been able to find my way around!
Rue des Martyrs
As I mentioned the Rue des Martyrs has a certain buzz and lots of independent boutiques and cafes (see here for the cafes) and you can even buy a book about the street here. You will have no problem finding a delicatessen or chocolatiers on the street and every morning I would pop along to Sebastian Gaudard for a croissant or pain au chocolat and the amazing candied chestnuts! There is plenty of choice along the street with cafes, boutiques and dedicated artisans which is a foodie heaven, this street alone is worth a visit.
Paris is known for its culinary delights and if like me you are a tea-obsessive you may find that the tea is lacking on the continent (people tend to look strangely at you when you ask for milk!) Coffee therefore becomes a necessity and I found the most amazing coffee shop in Paris. Ibrik is located in the 9th arrondissement and I happened to come across this coffee shop whilst exploring the area and after that I would stop by for a flat white and a delicious patisserie!
Ibrik has this vibe that makes you want to say and the staff are so friendly and helpful and there is a wide range of food and drinks at reasonable prices.
The one food that epitomizes France? – Snails!
Of course I tried them! And I have to say they were actually quite nice with garlic and herbs. I found Le New York restaurant over the river from the Eiffel Tower and found their food to be fantastic and you get a stunning view of the tower from the restaurant.
I found the hotel to be easily accessible for all the major tourist attractions and those hidden gems! Using the metro was straightforward although I did prefer to walk where possible. I felt safe around Paris and never had any concerns about being in Paris alone.
So whether you are planning a trip or dreaming about Paris my next post will give you an overview of the places that I visited.
Thanks for reading,
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3 thoughts on “City Break – Paris”
Love this, you are so brave for traveling on your own! I visited Paris about 6 or 7 years ago but relied heavily on my friends to navigate and to speak French. You’ve inspired me to learn some more French and be a bit more brave!
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Thanks Kathryn! I most definitely do not speak any French but my GCSE French did start to come back a little! 😊