Whether you’re looking for luxury or not, the City of Lights has lots of it to offer. The last thing you want to do in Paris is compromise on comfort and that Parisian je ne sais quoi because you didn’t plan ahead. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in Paris, without breaking the bank!
“Muffy, would you care for a bit of brunch after tennis? I can make reservations at the Forsythia Garden Tea House.”
It cannot be denied that Paris is the fashion capital of the world, which is why it’s the number one destination for fashion internships. From marketing to HR positions, right down to working on the shop floor or even being involved in design, nowhere else in the world quite does it like they do in Paris.
Rain, rain and more rain in France this week, a great welcome for one of my oldest friends Niamh’s arrival in Reims. The weather didn’t put too much of a dampener on things though, and plans were quickly made for numerous outings including a soirée française and a weekend in Paris!
Leaving Reims by covoiturage with a local finance director who for the first 30 minutes of the drive cracked jokes about Iranian women, food, culture and weather and recommended a good YouTube video of something funny that happened in Iran, I finally realised my mistake. When saying I was from Irlande, he thought I’d said myself and Niamh were from Iran. Oops!
So we arrived in Place d’Italie with our broken suitcase and bought the wrong metro tickets (I never get it right), eventually making our way to the Hotel which we were a little wary of as Trip Advisor had warned us that the electricity was turned off at night, which thankfully was just a vicious rumour! Tour Eiffel, L’Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées (where we found the giant pothole that almost lost me an ankle a few weeks ago), various museums and finally the 4th for dinner with a fellow Irish student filled our first day in Paris. It had been in the plans to go on the Erasmus boat, but after walking what seemed like the length of the Seine and not finding it, it was decided that it must have sank and we kept venturing on.
Disney was of course a magical experience filled with fairytale music, an abnormal amount of people wearing Minnie Mouse ears and what can only be described as giant plastic bags with hoods which I refused to buy (despite the rain) as they were €9. Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, Indianna Jones, you name it we tried it.. 10 hours of Disney later we were tired and all Disneyed out and slept the whole way back to the hotel, soaked through and full from our €10 sandwhichs (note to self, bring a picnic next time).
Another day out in Paris thanks to the extra long weekend (French bank holidays, once again I salute you) meant more walking and more metros and deciding the 3 hour line into the Louvre would not be worth it.. Plan B was the Galleries Lafayette which technically is also like a museum because everything is so expensive you can only look at things any ways, unless you have a spare grand hanging around for a pair of outrageous heels.
Back to the hotel to collect our bags, 27 metro stops and 2 changeovers later we were in East Paris awaiting our lift home. “The car beside the bus stop near the bank”, he said.. And of course there were 3 cars lined up with their blinkers on there. Made a lucky guess and off we were back to Reims with the funniest driver I have ever met. Taking no interest in me whatsoever, he absolutely loved Niamh and her name. After a lot of confusion and pronouncing “Niamh” as “Grieve” for a few minutes, the entire car was soon managing a very long and hilarious “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv”, which sounded a lot like an aeroplane taking off. “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv what do you do in France?”, “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv do you live in Reims?” “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv do you like kebabs?” “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv do you like chinese food?” “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv what do you like about France?”.
After being ignored for the majority of the journey I was informed, “Ashley you aren’t American because the only true Americans are native Americans and you’re not an Indian, and any ways, all Americans think that they’re Irish.” Of course this is where I tell them that “I am Irish”, not American (or Iranian) which leads to more laughter and a few more “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv”s.
After an adventurous weekend in the French capital which also happens to be the worlds capital City of Love, I can safely say my Parisienne experience has changed for the better. The city was fresher, the sky was blue, I wasn’t lugging around 60kg worth of baggage and I wasn’t fined on the metro! But 3 main aspects of Paris as a city really appealed to me.
After a long (but mostly fun) week of travelling in France, the dust has settled and the time finally came to get down to work! The rain has gone, the sun shone and now I’m starting to realise that the city I feared so much is really not all that bad! In fact, I was so worried about moving to Reims that I never gave Paris any thought at all.. Oh how wrong I was.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love Paris but on this occasion Paris definitely did not love me. As an Irish person, I know what rain is and it doesn’t bother me for the most part.. But when you’re in a foreign country it’s just never expected!
By the time lunch came around I was soaked to the skin and starving. Somehow my mother managed to tell the waiter in the restaurant that we were Russian which caused some confusion but he eventually gave us a badly translated English menu that he couldn’t understand himself.. The spring rolls we ordered as a starter were lost in translation and turned out to be Foie Gras which we were charged almost €20 a plate for.. You should have seen it – 2 tiny pieces of toast without even the crusts on them and a bit of what I thought was pâté! Spring rolls my ass.
Then I got ripped off at the Eiffel Tower by an Indian man who firstly attempted to sell me his crappy umbrella for €12. Delighted with life I managed to bargain it down to a fiver. Opened the thing up and it broke, turned around to try and get my fiver back but the little man was gone.
So myself and Grace headed back towards the Metro, decided we needed to get indoors and didn’t have any serious plans! In we go through the barriers – but wait – I get stuck! I turn around to see what’s going on with my ticket but I’m pushed through by the next person and the next thing I know I’ve got the Metro police demanding my passport and fining me €60.. Apparently I’d bought a single ticket to the Eiffel Tower. Who even does that?! But it’s not often you’re in Paris so thinking we’d make the most of it, off we went for the Champs Elysée..
It was getting dark and I had about a litre of water stuck to my glasses when BOOM I fell into what was likely to be the only pothole on the Champs Elysée and thought I broke my leg.. Seeking refuge and a place to rest the foot we landed in a bar with a weird drinks menu that had no prices and ended up being charged €7 for a Coke. Paris, you were nearly the death of me!
Thankfully, Reims turned out to be much nicer than I expected.. Hardly any beggars and I haven’t seen any rats yet 😛