As we pulled into Gare Du Nord, I smelt Paris. I smelt Paris and it didn’t smell good. I never travel with expectations but I felt the beginnings of disappointment. It didn’t help that it was all a bit grey at 2 in the afternoon. I looked at my friend and muttered ‘good start eh’
Visas – I had applied for a short-stay Schengen Visa earlier. This allows one travel within the Schengen area in Europe. My friend and I were going to visit 4 countries in 8 days. It cost me about £60 for the visa, but you get entry into 26 countries! Bargain.
Transport – I wanted to avoid planes because as much as I love them, airports are not very user-friendly. I took the Eurostar from London to Paris, which is possibly THE BEST way to travel, it felt surreal. Entry and Exit was quite smooth. The trains are very fast and in 2hrs, we had hit Paris.
To get around Paris I purchased two packs of tickets for £15 each at the Eurostar departure lounge. Each pack contains 10 tickets which allows you travel on most of the public services in Paris. After encountering bad smells, rude people, my friend and I managed to get on the train to the hotel we were going to stay. Being a seasoned tube traveller, this was easy peasy.
Language – Everything is in french, some people even refuse to speak to you because you speak english. Some signs in public spaces are in english though. I wish I had brushed up on my french to be honest, I had to make do with Bonjoooor…
Money – Euros! Luckily this currency can be used in more than 26 countries. The exchange rates we got weren’t too good, but don’t do last minute, get euros anytime you can.
Hotel – I had heard so much about Mama Shelter so I decided to give it a shot. It was really nice and warm there, possibly the friendliest people in Paris too. Very convenient, as it was a direct train from Gare Du Nord. It also is close to local shops and cafes.
Neighbourhood – The hotel is the 20th Arrondissment, it has a very authentic feel to it, which I enjoy. There’s a famous cemetry there (I know), and has good transport links to other parts of the city. It has the 2nd largest chinatown in the city. We did eat chinese food there -_-
What to do in Paris
Despite my growing disappointment with the city which I still think is massively overrated, there’s still a bit of things to get stuck into. We put our noses through some vintage shops, strolled by the river Seine. We had crepes and sandwiches opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral, went to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre which was all walking distance.
Do not go to see the Eiffel Tower during the day, it just looks like a massive pylon. Night time is quite nice, I guess that still gives off a whiff of romance. See a video I took of the tower below.
2 days in the city is enough.
Taxis – Everyone I know has talked about the cabs there but we still managed to get scammed. We were charged 17 euros before even setting off on our journey to the airport.
Charles De Gaulle – We were going to fly out with Easyjet, this was quite a smooth journey except for the irate flight attendant who tried to stop me from entering because I had a backpack and one piece of luggage, she claimed that only one was allowed and I had two, never heard of that in my life!
If you really must do Paris, go ahead. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.