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One Night in Paris

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy
Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse. Pic: advencap

Searching through one day I found somebody giving free one way Eurostar tickets away to Paris. Surely there had to be a catch? After all Paris maybe the city of love, but nothing there comes for free.….well we rendezvoused in East London, bought her a coffee and she passed over the tickets. She had come to London for the weekend and decided to stay. The tickets were ours, and it wasn’t London calling, it was Paris.
I asked around, everybody had somewhere to go and something to see.
One friend suggested a Paris City Hop-on Hop-off Tour. I screwed up my nose, ‘that’s for tourists!” Despite subantarctic conditions, turns out it was the best and cheapest way to see the city in the short amount of time we had. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Trocadero, Sainte-Chapell (my personal favourite) and many others are included in the two day pass. We jumped on and off at leisure and discovered some of the world’s most famous landmarks.
Of course the worlds most grandiose flea market held some attraction as well. Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt (or Marches Aux Puces for short boasts over 2,500 to 3,000 open stalls and shops. Located on the northern fringe of the city, this place has everything, junk, vintage or antique, and of course its all French so impossibly cool. Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from, 7:00 to 19:00 the market can be reached by metro. Alight at station Garibaldi on line 13 or station Porte de Clinagncourt on line 4.
Another suggestion was to enjoy a cocktail in the highest bar in Paris, the Montparnasse Tower. Tour Maine-Montparnasse (Maine-Montparnasse Tower or, Tour Montparnasse), is a 210-meter skyscraper and despite its blandness has sprawling views of the city from the restaurant on the 56th floor, or the terrace on the top floor. Personally it didn’t rattle my chain, we choose to have our Parisian cocktails at the Ritz Paris instead. Spread out amongst the most ornate of surrounds, serenaded by the tuxedo clad pianist, I drunk my cocktail and pondered if this was where Princess Diana sat and if the downstairs toilets were where Kate Moss snorted Paris’s finest. Drinks are not badly priced at the Ritz Paris (compared to London anyway) and a stop off is a reminder of how the other half live.
We were getting hungry and the Ritz was not an option on our budget. We decided on a traditional open air “guingette” restaurant with dancing and accordions by the Seine. Now this is another obviously summer experience, but who knew when we would return? Wanting something typically French we typically ended up somewhere not. La Guinguette Pirate is an open aired boat restaurant featuring African music with almost Chinese decor. Moored along Quai François Mauriac, La Guinguette Pirate has two levels of cozy drinking corners in which every nook and cranny echoes with live performances. Further along there are a number of similar floating bars, theatres and music venues.
Picnicking and a game of pétanque by Canal Saint Martin were mentioned several times by different people, but it proved to be far to cold. Apparently in the warmer months people flock to the banks of the canal to picnic, strum guitars, or while away the hours at cafés and quirky boutiques, rent bikes or take tours by canal boat.
The night was but young (Parisian time of course) so we headed to the section of rue between Parmentier and Ménilmontant Métro stations. Known as Oberkampf this trendy district isa cool Parisian hangout spot.
Recommended to us but now a bit of a blur were Café Charbon, Cithéa, Nouveau Casino and Le Mécano. Oberkampf winds down about 2am but Cithéa remains open much later for night owls.
We stayed at Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles, budget for Paris, pricey for us. The hotel was extremely elegant and set inthe historical heart of the Latin Quarter. At 115 euro per night it was well worth it.
Shaking off the spoils of the night, we took a stroll down the mythical Champs-Elysées avenue. Meaning ‘the place of the blessed in Greek mythology’, I wondered if the blessed had absolutely no taste at all? The shop front of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Cristian Dior all screamed out money, but the designs, patterns and gaudiness were mutton to me. Still the walk down one of the world’s most prestigious avenues was a nice way to waste the last of the morning.
Jumping back on the hop off hop on bus, (the two day ticket proved to be very useful) we headed to the Lourve and the mysterious Mona. Truly spectacular from start to finish. Don’t underestimate how much time you can spend there.
The weekend was over, our carriage awaited. A dinner of pastries and coffee, a hurried bustle through the formalities of British customs at the Eurostar Station and Paris was over, at least this time anyway.

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