Springtime in Paris...

With valentines day done and dusted for another year, marked by a very lovely meal at the new West Park boutique hotel in Harrogate, I can feel spring in the air and see a lightness in everyone's step. This time of year makes me yearn for the smell of flora and fauna reawakening and the spirit of adventure. Whilst conjuring up ideas for a spring break of some kind, I was reminded of this time last year when I was gearing up for a trip to beautiful Paris with my friends.


I am lucky enough to have been before several years ago, ticking off many of the tourist haunts and romantic vistas at the time, but considering how close it is (only 2 hours from London), it took a while to pay a return visit. This is partly owing to the fact that with so many places to see in the world, I rarely go back to the same place twice. However, on this occasion it was for a close friend's hen do and was going to be quite a different trip to the first time around!



First of all, we were travelling by Eurostar rather than flying, as I did the first time I visited. As you may have gathered by now, I'm quite the fan of train travel, so I was excited to experience it. It also affords other possibilities that flying does not, such as being able to take over an entire carriage to drink champagne, play games and generally enjoy some merriment! My friend (the hen) even got invited to drive the train by the lovely conductor who was entertained (possibly a little scared) by us for the duration of the journey.
On arrival we checked in at our hotel for the weekend Hotel Madmoiselle - Metro Gare du l'est which was a small, independent and boutique hotel close to the train station. It is around a five minute walk with many boulangeries and shops on the way. This hotel has a Parisienne décor and a friendly feel and made a good base for the weekend. It was actually really reasonably priced as well, considering its central location and upmarket feel. I encourage you to check it out if you're visiting.
Our first evening was spent eating fine French food at Le Bistro Deux Theatres which was a restaurant near the show district and the Moulin Rouge. It was a set meal including 3 courses with wine for around 40 euros which represented good value for money. However, as a vegetarian, I always struggle in France, when I have visited places such as Cannes, Nice and Monaco, when it comes to food and this place was unfortunately no exception. My starter was French onion soup, so no problems there, but the main course was terrible, quite frankly. Bland, plain and stodgy are the only words to describe it. After a quiet word they did come back with a different pasta dish which was slightly more palatable but it just reaffirmed how little vegetarians are catered for in certain parts of the world. The wine and company more than made up for the situation, though and my friends all enjoyed their beautiful meat dishes.
Afterwards we decided to head for cocktails at The Calbar, which was a cool hangout with two kooky mixologists at the helm. I recommend Osmosis for anyone fancying something refreshing after a heavy meal. By this point we had been awake since 5am in order to catch our early train to London from Yorkshire and then onwards, and we had slightly over indulged in the fizz earlier, so we were ready for a good sleep and made our way back, via a little bar near the hotel.

We had to be on good form for the next day because we were off to Euro Disney. It's easily accessible by using the metro system in Paris - it is almost impossible to go wrong as there are only two lines going in and out of the city. I say almost impossible, as one of our crew did inadvertently do just this (poor lamb!). The tickets can be pricey so look out for group booking discounts online which make it much more affordable. Much hilarity ensued as we weaved our way on and off rides and rollercoasters, daring each other to go bigger and scarier each time. When the hangover caught up with us, we decided toy town and the ghost train would give us a breather but this resulted in even more laughter!
After a fun filled day, we freshened up and headed out to Chez Francoise for another set 3 course meal with wine, which was around 50 euros each. Again, good value but a headache for vegetarians such as myself. Luckily bread and salted butter were on tap and I did get a nice risotto, so I was happy. Full to the brim we strolled down the Champs Elysees stopping to look at the night sky lit up a by the Eiffel Tower. Whatever your feelings about the tower and night time light show, it is a must if you're a first time visitor. Once we'd worked off our meal, we were all ready for something a little more wild and so we found the only nightclub that seemed to be open on a Sunday night in this city, which happened to be a gay club with an inclusive and electric atmosphere. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of it but I do know it was a lot of fun. We stumbled home on our sore feet around 4am reliving the memories of the day.



Before travelling back the following afternoon, we took a leisurely brunch, which is a must in Paris, despite breakfast not being as big a deal as dinner here, and sat in the sun by the Louvre drinking ice cold beers to see a wonderful weekend off in style.



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