“Paris is always a good idea.”
A quote by Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina that I choose to live by, even though I haven’t actually seen the film. I romanticize Paris, partially because it is the City of Love but mainly because it is my favourite place in the world and my ultimate happy place. The reality is a little different from the city in my head because there are so many people, tourist shops and a somewhat distinct urine smell on some corners but if you look past it all you can see the beauty in each building and landmark. Every time you turn a corner you are greeted by stunning architecture and beautiful buildings that make up the most gorgeous city I have ever seen.
Dan and I booked a week-long trip to Paris on our one year anniversary in January as a present to ourselves and therefore, I’ve been counting down for months. I like to be organised and plan things in advance because I can try and fit in as many things to see in do that I can. I wanted to share a little bit of this with you and what I have learned now that it is over in case it helps any of you.
First on the planning agenda was to book flights and choose our accommodation after because we would then know how many nights to book for. Despite Aberdeen being the closest airport to us, Dan and I chose to fly from Edinburgh because it was cheaper even with train tickets included. We were lucky as our flights were at reasonable times during the afternoon because if this had not been the case and they were very early in the morning or late at night we probably would have chosen to fly from Aberdeen to save us paying for accommodation overnight in Edinburgh.
I used the website Skyscanner (not sponsored but I’m totally open to it) to find the flights that worked best for us depending on timing and prices so we found it was EasyJet that fit the bill. Dan did suggest that we could survive on hand-luggage for the week to save us paying for a suitcase in the hold but I knew that I would struggle to fit clothes for a week in a small amount of luggage. Instead, we compromised on one suitcase to share between us which cost us an additional £20 each way.
Flying to Paris was just a small part of our overall journey because we also took a bus, a tram and five trains (including the metro) to get to our Airbnb. We did have to change trains on our journey there as it wasn’t possible for us to get a direct train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh Gateway. On the way back we took the tram out to Haymarket instead of Gateway because it saved us money and the hassle of changing trains.
My advice for buying train tickets in a situation like this is to always allow more time than you think you’ll need. The chances of you needing an extra half hour are slim but as we found out on our way home, it is a very real possibility that you could be delayed because of something that is outwith your control.
If you choose to get the tram from Edinburgh Gateway to the Airport please bear in mind that it will cost you the same amount as if you were travelling in from Central Edinburgh. The airport is a high fare zone so your single ticket will cost £6 even if you are only travelling two stops.
I don’t really remember why we chose to stay in an Airbnb for this trip but it was probably because it was cheaper than a hotel. Despite staying in other self-catering accommodation before with my family, this was my first time staying in an Airbnb so I was excited to use the website for booking a holiday rather than just for browsing. When I visited Paris with my parents in 2015 we stayed at the Hotel Berne Opera near Place de Clichy and conveniently the flat we chose was only a block or two away from it. It helped because I was kind of familiar with the area and I also got to revisit some of the street art I had photographed three years before.
We weren’t particularly fussy when it came to choosing a place to stay as long as it was close to a Metro stop and not particularly expensive, then we would be happy. We chose a studio flat in the 17th arrondissement (North-West) of Paris next to La Fourche. It was a great area to stay in because it felt quite safe as well as being close to lots of restaurants and two metro lines.
The studio itself was a little smaller than we had expected but it was perfect for what we needed. There was plenty of storage for clothes and all our things, a little dining table for two and a kitchenette for cooking in which we occasionally used.
We used the Metro every day we were in Paris as we weren’t within walking distance of the main attractions. We usually got on the number 13 line for a few stops and changed later on depending on when we were going. Most of our journeys were around 20 minutes to half an hour which was great as we could make the most of our day. Dan and I joked about how Liège was such a quiet station and looked busy when there were four people waiting for the train to arrive. We also used the RER for getting to and from the airport, Disneyland and Versailles. We learned after a couple of trips that we didn’t need to buy separate metro tickets to be used in conjunction with the ones we had bought for outside of Zone 1 which saved us some Euros down the line. Either way, Metro tickets only cost 1.90€ each or 14.90€ for ten so they won’t break the bank if you buy too many.
As the UK is still part of the European Union for just now Dan and I took our passports out with us every day because it meant that we could get free or reduced admission at most of the places we visited. Across the holiday Dan and I saved over 100€ each on admission prices which meant we could spend more money on food and in my case, souvenirs!
I went a little bit nuts when creating an itinerary for Paris so that we could have the best possible holiday. I delved into my Pinterest board dedicated to Paris (link at the end) to find things to do, food to try and places to go, including some that were off the main tourist track. I saved everywhere that interested me on Google Maps so I could easily find them again and planned routes based off what I saw to reduce the amount of time spent walking where possible. I believe having a plan of what to do for each day helped us in the long run because Dan and I can be indecisive at times so it meant we weren’t standing around saying, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” over and over again.
My advice to anyone planning a trip would be to have a rough idea of where you want to go and how to get between them all. This applies to all destinations, not just Paris as it can save plenty of time walking or deciding where to go. If you aren’t travelling alone try to plan with the other members of your group so everyone has an input, I was so paranoid that Dan was going to think I was really controlling and over-bearing when I kept nagging him to plan with me.
When organising your trip make sure to check admission prices and seek out any ways of saving money. Paris can be really expensive if you’re not careful and you could find yourself struggling for cash towards the end of your stay. I mentioned earlier that Dan and I got into many places including The Palace of Versailles and the Musée du Louvre for free because we are under 26 and from a European Union member country. Obviously for us UK folk this won’t be possible from the end of March next year so perhaps look into getting a museum pass if you plan on visiting many places with admission fees.
Make sure you check opening times too! For example, the Musée d’Orsay is closed on Monday but is open until late on a Thursday so make sure you plan accordingly to save yourself from disappointment. Dan and I planned on visiting main attractions such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in the morning to avoid large queues and were often somewhat successful. During our time in Paris it got quite hot on some days and therefore we wanted to avoid being outside for long periods of time queuing to avoid getting sunburnt. If you are going to Disneyland for a day like we did, I really would recommend getting there as early as possible. We walked through the gates at 10am on the dot (when the park opened) and still had to wait for an hour at the Princess Pavillion for an hour soon after we had arrived.
If you choose to use Google Maps in the same way I did I would highly recommend downloading the app. I prefer it over Apple Maps because you can download maps of areas so they are available without internet access. It also meant that all my saved places were transferred onto my phone from my laptop and easily accessible whenever I needed them.
I hope this post has provided some insight into how our trip was organised and perhaps given you some advice on how to plan your own. I will be writing many more blog posts on Paris covering all different parts of our trip, including Disneyland so make sure you’re following my blog to be notified when they come out! For more photos of our holiday to Paris check out my Instagram where I will continue to post for weeks until I run out of good pictures. These blogs let me relive all moments from my favourite city and I hope you stick around to enjoy them with me.
Paris Pinterest Board: Paris
Facebook Page: @beccamarriner
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