One of my very first blog posts was about how I was desperately seeking adventure, and how I was considering a spontaneous day trip to Paris to see the Mona Lisa. I thought it was about time I ticked this one off the list, so I booked a last minute flight to leave Gatwick at 8am and return at 9pm. I chose to fly because I found a cheap flight for £70 and I couldn’t find travel on the Eurostar for under £300.
I soon found out that there’s a reason that people prefer to get the Eurostar. Convenience. It started well, and I couldn’t believe how ‘easy’ it was to check in using the Easyjet app, just using my fingerprint, but the whole travel process is quite long, especially just for one day. From Central London to Paris, the duration of travel is about 6 hours (train/airport faff/flight/airport faff/train) in comparison to the two-and-a-half-hour train ride with Eurostar.
Needless to say, my choice of travel meant that I had the delight of testing every form of public transport, not only navigating my way around the city, but actually getting to it from Charles du Gard airport. I confidently got myself to the train station from the terminal, purchased my travel card and found the right platform to get me to the city centre. Once I had plonked myself on the train, I tried to formulate a plan in my head. As always, I hadn’t researched or looked into potential destinations for my trip, I just wanted to head toward the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, take a picture of the Eifel tower, and anything else was a bonus.
I walked out of the Gare du Nord slightly overwhelmed. I hadn’t really thought about this. I didn’t think it was a big deal but all of a sudden there I was, clutching the little pocket map that I had just purchased, not having any kind of clue where I was going… or even where I was. I then saw a ‘L’Open Tour’ stop in front of me and thought it was a good starting point. If you are in an unknown destination, a bus tour can help you get your bearings and I really do recommend them because you can ‘hop on, hop off’ for the duration of your ticket (you can purchase day passes, or multiple day passes). This was also very useful during my trip to Miami
There are 4 routes (colour coded) to choose from, with 50 stops, and passing more than 100 sights. I started on the yellow route to get me to The Louvre, but when I purchased my ticket on board, I was told that The Louvre is actually shut on a Tuesday. Well there went my plan to see the Mona Lisa. I wasn’t sure what to do as I studied my map in search for an alternative. Unfortunately, like most cities, the traffic was terrible. And seeing as it took me half an hour to get down one road, I decided to get off and walk toward The Louvre anyway, maybe I could just spend the day walking around Paris and taking in the sights. Of course, as I got off the bus and headed toward the Siene, the heavens opened and I was caught in a torrential downpour which only made me laugh hysterically, like a crazed, lonesome, mad woman. It was great. I walked along the embankment, soaked to the bone, with a huge grin on my face, and all of a sudden I felt the excitement of my temporary independence. I was in Paris. All by myself. And I could do exactly what I wanted without having to consult or answer to anyone.
I embraced the smell and the atmosphere that a torrential downpour leaves, and visited The Louvre whilst looking at a picture of Mona on my phone (so technically, I did see it). I wondered across the pretty bridges and came across the Love Locks, where I left a little lock for Molly. I walked around Notre-Dame, but didn’t go inside because the queue stretched for what looked like miles.
I then jumped on a bus along the Green route which took me along the Champs-Elysees, passed the Grand Palace and the Arc De Triomphe, and hopped off at the Eiffel Tower for an obligatory photo shoot.
I didn’t want to waste time in search for a nice place to have lunch, and being a huge fan of the wonderful Patisseries and Boulangeries that France has to offer, I bought a sandwich and a Tarte du Pomme before searching for a nice park to accommodate my break. Unfortunately for my picnic plans, less than 48 hours previously, France had been in the finals of one of the largest football tournaments in the world, which meant that most public spaces were gated off as they were clearing up the aftermath, all of the streets were still lined with railings. I couldn’t find a bench or a spot of grass that wasn’t next to a main road so I almost resorted to eating at a bus stop before I remembered that I was close to the Grand Palace, so I headed in that direction and found a bench, still on the main road, but with a lovely view of Eglise Du Dome.
After my lunch, I headed to the Metro and just about navigated myself on the overly complicated network, back to La Gare Du Nord, where I got a train back to the airport. I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of achievement. Paris is hopelessly romantic, whether you are with a partner, a member of your family, or on your own, it is impossible not to feel love. I had been in love for the day. With the breath taking sights, the Parisian atmosphere, and with my own company. I liked Paris very much.
Due to bad weather in England, Gatwick had temporarily closed which meant that my flight home was delayed by two hours. Of course. But despite my main attraction being closed, the weather, the football aftermath, and the delayed flight, I had the best day because it was all a little bit bonkers. Just how I like it.