When you can get to Paris by Eurostar for £29 each way, there is no fathomable reason not to go.
We travelled cheap by limiting ourselves to a small number of essential metro journeys and venturing on foot otherwise.
As we arrived reasonably late on the first day of our weekend trip, Paris was already lit up in its splendour. We took advantage of this atmosphere to amble from Gare Du Nord to the City’s finest designer label vintage store – ‘Thanx God I’m A VIP’, located in the Montorgueil neighbourhood and aptly surrounded by up-market chic outfitters and bars. This shop is a marvel; its rows of exquisite pieces contain a dizzying array of famous names and high prices, although there is the constant possibility that a bargain lies within the hangers. The only downside to this shop is the aesthetically pleasing yet logically frustrating coloured organisation of the clothing on sale, where kimonos and trench coats could ostensibly hang side by side if they happen to be the same shade of blue.
We turned to the metro to take us to our hotel, located in the gorgeous hilltop district of Montmartre. As our stay was only for a single night, we were able to pay more than usual and stay in a room with a view over the sprawl of central Paris. With no time to spare, we immediately climbed up to the Sacre Coeur, marvelled at its beauty, and the allure of the City it faces, before navigating the winding streets and steps to find ourselves at ‘Le Petit Bleu’ – quite possibly the smallest restaurant in Paris. This miniscule Moroccan on Rue Muller features gorgeous tagines and couscous meals at gloriously little expense, all combined with a delightful atmosphere created by its lack of size. As we only needed a table for two, seating us was not a problem, however, parties of more than 2 were consistently queuing outside this beguiling eatery – a testament to its quality.
As day broke over Paris, we were already travelling to the Musee d’Orsay. Situated in the former Gare d’Orsay and next to the Seine the museum is a work of art in itself, the beauty of which is amplified when you are eligible for free entry. Inside, the sheer volume of works can be overwhelming, meaning that we had to carefully choose which rooms to view, but with every room housing masterpieces, you are seldom disappointed. Works by Van Gogh, Seraut, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, Degas and Cezanne line the walls of this magnificent museum, culminating in the largest impressionist collection in the world – reason enough to visit this Parisian landmark.
From the Musee d’Orsay, we made haste to the ubercool district of Rue Canal Saint Martin, a stone’s throw from Place de la Republique. We stopped for a coffee behind the steamed-up windows of ‘Le Sesame’, offering a warm and welcoming environment to relax before heading back out to explore the plethora of bookstores and boutiques the area has to offer. Canal St Martin is the epitome of picturesque, and as a result wandering along its streets is enough to satisfy any prospective traveller. For our final meal in Paris, we settled down in ‘Chez Prune’, a restaurant bustling to the tune of satisfied customers enjoying the daily specials on offer. Although more expensive than ‘Le Petit Bleu’, ‘… Prune’ was essential to maintain our energy for the last legs of our whirlwind trip around the French capital.
Whilst the sun was setting, we moved quickly via metro to the Musee d’Art Moderne, a major modern art gallery located in the Palais de Tokyo. Once again, our lack of years allowed us to browse its astonishing collection for free, and we gazed upon mammoth works by masters of the modern art world such as Delauney and Matisse. The latter of which had an entire room dedicated to two huge mural-like paintings, one finished and one unfinished (due to his death), which are a must see for anyone who admires him.
Once darkness had enveloped the city, we strolled along the Seine to the Notre Dame with a shimmering Eiffel Tower behind us, marvelling at a nocturnal Paris, before taking our last metro trip back to Gare du Nord and subsequently back to London. Even in the shortest of trips, Paris seduces every creature that sets foot on its streets, especially if those feet know exactly where to go.
Stay: Timhotel Montmartre
Eat: Le Petit Bleu (dinner), Chez Prune (lunch)
Visit: Musee D’Orsay, Musee D’Art Moderne
Be: Montmartre, Rue Canal Saint Martin, Seine
Shop: Thanx god i’m a VIP, various bookshops etc