Thursday someone said “You know; you can go to London, have a beer and go back home on the same day?!”
Friday I started thinking, and in the end of the day I’d bought a ticket and booked a hotel room in Paris for Saturday.
Saturday morning – or in the middle of the night – at 3 am I got up and went to Copenhagen Airport to catch the 6 o’clock plane.
Paris Beauvais Airport is in fact not in Paris (just like London Stansted is not in London) so it took a little over an hour to get from the airport to the city centre, but from the bus station I could literally walk around the corner and look all the way up Avenue de la Grand Armée to Arc de Triomphe.
So I started walking in that direction completely unconscious, like a fly attracted to shit.
It was a beautiful sunshiny day ☀️, no wind and about 1°C.
I had to do a selfie in front of the Arc to convince some friends online, who had the audacity to doubt if I had actually gone to France (a priority, right?), before going to an underground metro station to buy a île de France Navigo card loaded with 24 hours free public transport in central Paris (zone 1 and 2, 10 Euro). The card itself can be topped up, so keep it. They have an app but it’s rather annoying.
Heading for the Latin Quarters on the M1 line I passed over the Seine, left the metro on the next station, and backtracked one station, to enjoy a French breakfast at a café facing the river.
A French breakfast is an espresso ☕️ and a Gauloise 🚬, while a French luxury extended breakfast is an Espresso, a Gauloise, a croissant 🥐 and the latest edition of Le Monde 📰. It was Saturday, after all, so I got the one with solid food.
After this extravagant meal I was on the metro once again heading for the Latin Quarters.
A had a quest. This particular date – January 20th – was the date my brother was found dead, and according to family tradition we light candles 🕯 in any sort of church or temple. So I found the catholic church Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, and spend half an hour changing a 100 Euro note in neighbouring shops to be able to buy candles in the church.
Next a wonderful meal of very tender beef with baked potatoes and a glas of red wine 🍷, before walking up hill 🥵 to Montmatre.
As I have frequented Paris on a couple of occasions before, and went there solely to soak up the mood of the city I had no ambitions about visiting any tourist traps, which gave me a wonderful feeling of tranquility, looking only for meals and beverages – in other words a day of pauses.
Long walks from restaurant to café, and from café to restaurant, drinking coffee and eating only starters, traveling 20 km by metro and walking 16 km, according to Google Maps Timeline.
As this wasn’t the kind of day for buying entrance tickets it was peculiar to discover the Eiffel tower is now inclosed by a barrier that takes standing in a queue and an entrance ticket to enter. Never mind; I walked around it and found a bar for a draft beer 🍺 and a local newsletter to see what the locals are stressed out about 😱.
(Spoiler alert: Inflation and poor public service.)
The hotel – Hôtel Tolbiac, 122 Rue de Tobiac – is the worst possible shit hole you can imagine, straight out of a dark and gloomy B-movie, but the cheapest thing I could get without ending up in a dormitory. And frankly I didn’t give a shit since I was only using it to have a bed to sleep in.
The heavily overweight and somewhat unhygienic guy handing out keys only added to the whole ambience of the experience.
Sunday it was cloudy and I left the hotel as fast as I could get my arse out of there.
As this was Paris obviously there was a nice and atmospheric café just around the corner, where I could buy yet another luxury french breakfast (☕️ 🚬 🥐 📰).
when I arrived downtown, to be close to the bus station for my trip home, i felt like a glass of white wine, only to discover France now has a rule about serving alcohol before 12 o’clock.
(Spoiler alert: “Non!” 🤬)
Contrary to popular belief, all Parisians are fluent in English 💬.
As soon as they heard that I speak bad French, they switched to English – without exception or delay.
A starter/small meal will set you back 8-10 Euro, while a full meal with a glass of wine is more like 20 Euro 💸.
You can pay with credit/debit card almost everywhere, but not always tip.
As tipping is customary keep small amounts ready in bills and coins that you can leave at the table.
10% is reasonable if you have received satisfactory service. 💰
The sightseeing sites I didn’t visit this time, but you should definitely see once in your lifetime:
- A boat trip on the river Seine
- Musée du Louvre
- Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame
- Musée d’Orsay
- The Palace of Versailles
The sites that I did see:
- Arc de Triomphe
- Montmartre and Sacré Coeur
- Latin Quarter
- Small local cafés and restaurants
- Trips on the metro
- A lot of walking the city streets