Paris has always been this cobbled, fantastical enigma to me, something I’d put high up on a pedestal and romanticised about since watching Carrie make standing in dog shit look glamorous.
And then, Boyfriend took me. And even in it’s snow-filled, white-skied, only-allowed-to-the-2nd-floor-of-the-Eiffel-Tower, chill – it was everything I had hoped for.
We flew out of Bristol airport on the Friday evening and arrived before I had the chance to crack the spine of my new book. We used Uber Pool, a feature I hadn’t noticed before but one that worked out €20 cheaper than a standard taxi, to get to our hotel in Strasbourg Saint Denis where we were checked in by an extremely questionable looking receptionist with an extremely tentative looking comb-over. After a quick espresso – how Parisian of us- We headed out to a local pizzeria – not so Parisian of us.
We spent hours eating bread and drinking wine over our pizzas, talking about our families and filling each other in on the few remaining gaps.
The following morning we awoke early and headed out for pain au chocolat and six euro coffees. Yes, you read that correctly… Six. Euros. Each. We got the metro and strolled hand in hand, sickeningly, along the Champs-Élysées until we approached and climbed the Arc de Triomphe.
The views were incredible and we managed to make it to the top just before the snow came, and then shortly after… The rain.
We headed toward the Champ de Mars and took refuge for an hour in a nearby restaurant where I tried and failed to dry off under an automatic hand-dryer. After a couple of breakfast burgers and an obligatory glass of red, we braved the cold and the scores of looky-looky men in search of the tower.
It transpired that only the first two floors were open while the top observation deck was undergoing refurbishments until February, but this was still 377 feet from the ground and offered 365 degree views of the city as well as a make-shift pull up bar for Boyfriend.
We spent the remainder of the day cruising the Seine, wandering the city and queuing for an obscene amount of time for plasters at a chemist.
After we were revived from another espresso, we weaved our way through comedy club queues and down an unmarked street until we were met by a couple of intoxicated locals stumbling out of an otherwise obscured door. We headed inside L’Aller Retour and were met with tiny tables rammed with red wine and endless bread baskets, couples holding hands and whispering sweet nothings, groups gesticulating wildly over recalled anecdotes and solo diners animatedly swirling and inhaling their glasses.
We ate the best rare steaks and drank grenache while I surveyed the crowd, careful not to make it too obvious I was completely fascinated by everybody.
On Sunday Morning we awoke and left the hotel wrapped up to our eyeballs in jumpers and scarves. We strode on past the ridiculous queues outside the Pompidou Centre and toward Notre Dame where we grabbed a crepe and headed inside, our visit coinciding with Sunday Mass.
We walked through the gardens and over the bridge to the Pantheon, through the Latin quarter and back down via Luxembourg Gardens, stopping for coffees where appropriate.
We approached the Louvre and headed inside where we strolled respectfully through the Egyptian artefacts and Greek pottery before tiring and making a beeline for the Mona Lisa. I was half expecting to be somewhat indifferent, not really seeing what all the fuss was about, but actually, I kinda saw it.
We braved the rain and took the metro to the infamous red light district. Past the XXX cinemas and supermarche erotique, across from the expectedly underwhelming Moulin Rouge and up the hill through the winding and typically Parisian walkways to the Sacre Coeur.
The Sacre Coeur was stunning and I’m sure could sway the most adamant of sceptics to give pause.
We began our descent back into the city and caught the metro back to Strasbourg Saint Denis where we hit up the Renaissance Bistro for our final taste of Paris. Boyfriend ordered the steak tartare and I, the humble cheeseboard. The waiter did give me a slightly odd look when taking my order but I put this down to my questionable french, it wasn’t until my cheese platter for 4 arrived that I understood my faux pas… I soldiered on, regardless.
We picked up our bags and ordered our Uber Pool back to the airport, running slightly behind schedule, we ran to our gate as it was closing, only to sit on the plane for an hour on the runway – a typical English end to a wonderfully Parisian weekend.