Being back in an airport for the first time in three years was a bit of a surreal experience. Having seen so many videos of lengthy security queues, I was prepared to wait for hours unlike in 2019 but overall I was just so excited to be going on holiday abroad again. It was no surprise that the first place I travelled to was my favourite place on Earth, Paris. My friends and I all live in different parts of the UK, meaning it takes a lot of coordination if we’re all going to see each other – a huge change from when we were at school. But hey, if we’re organising a meetup, why not do it in France?
After a slightly nervy journey about having the correct documentation and making our way through different airports, the four of us were reunited at a baggage carousel in Charles de Gaulle in an almost cinematic moment. Our Airbnb was only a 10 minute walk away from Place de la Bastille and not even a stone’s throw away from different restaurants running happy hour until 2am. So with pizzas, drinks and the cutest puppy on the table over, we caught up and planned what was going to be an exciting week.
We also learned a valuable lesson that night; don’t walk over metro grates in flowy dresses when you’re not wearing shorts underneath… Bonjour Paris!
Where would you find my friends and me on our first morning in Paris? Of course, in a boulangerie. I had this praline brioche which was sticky and sweet and softer than a cloud. Was it the easiest thing to eat without cutlery? No, but it was a quick stop before hopping on the Metro.
I was the only one of my friends that had been to Paris before so took them to Trocadéro for the perfect first sight of the Eiffel Tower. It was a wonderful moment to watch them turn the corner and see the Iron Lady, yes it really is enormous. There was construction work underway on the steps of Trocadéro but it hasn’t stopped people from leaving love locks.
The weather was glorious – sunshine and a little breezy – which did mean that we got rather sneezy from the sand on the Champ des Mars… We took a wander around the park letting the feeling of Paris soak in, aka staring in bewilderment at everything around us.
We also managed to find a quiet spot on the Rue de l’Université for a few moments to take some pretty pics before a guy came along doing handstands and showing us all up…
We followed the street along to the Seine and crossed over to the Flame of Liberty and Place Diana. I’m still yet to see a Statue of Liberty, New York or Paris, so this was a starting point.
With more walking along the luxury shops of the Champs-Élysées we went to see the Arc de Triomphe.
Since we are rarely all together, Place Charles de Gaulle made the perfect spot for our annual photo with the traffic chaos in the background.
We picked up lunch from Carrefour city (one of my favourite things to do in Paris) and sat along the Seine. I don’t know if it’s just me but Lipton’s iced tea is a staple of all European holidays. When in Paris, I trusted Remy from Ratatouille and ate little cheese cubes accompanied by strawberries and wow, he was onto something.
It would have been rude to not use this iconic TikTok sound when on Pont Alexandre III
After the classic Airbnb refresh and an outfit change, we headed out to find some dinner during a beautiful sunset at Bastille.
Our wee evening wander took us to Place des Vosges which had such a beautiful atmosphere as people had picnics and drank wine. Dinner was found in a french restaurant called Café Mignon where I had a Croque Monseiur.
As if we didn’t walk enough the day prior, we started our second day with a brutal number of steps up to the top of Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur. The view was lovely to look at but not as much as my gorgeous pals and as the mum of the group I took many, many photos.
You can’t climb up the steep hill of Montmartre and not reward yourself with a look around the beautiful Sacré-Cœur. Remember to look at the painted ceiling!
We then explored the streets of Montmartre and famous spots like the La Maison Rose, Le Consulat and Place Dalida…
… and went window shopping for a souvenier or two.
We went to Pink Mamma for lunch and it was equally stunning as it was delicious. I love that the menu changes so often to reflect the seasons so I had gnocchi and the Big Mama cocktail that had so much fruit inside that I’m calling it a salad. Everything was so well beautiful from the giant fish pasta bowls, sunny terrace and boob mug for Faye’s Mangoo Mule.
I often watch videos of people going to Paris to buy their first luxury bag. As much as I’d love to do that I’m more of a window shopper at the moment and we had a neb around Galeries Lafayette. The ornate glass dome is beautiful and I’d love to come back and visit at Christmas at some point.
It was my first time visiting the fabulous rooftop terrace where you can see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Palais Garnier. The escalators were also kinder to our legs than the Montmartre steps.
The Tuileries Gardens are fairly quiet first thing in the morning and it was lovely to sit amongst the many statues and relax before an afternoon of museum wandering.
We saw so many cute little ducks and ducklings that I may have wept a little…
Lunch involved more patisserie, including my favourite, a strawberry tart.
Our entire afternoon was spent at the Louvre and we barely scraped the surface of the art and artefacts that it holds. It’s one of my favourite museums that I’ve ever been to, mainly based on the architecture and its extensive Egyptian collection. Do you ever feel like a place can be relaxing but overwhelming at the same time?
Are you kidding me with these sculptures??
Losing my mind over the beauty of each room.
Next on the list of French foods for me was steak frites, which I had at Bistro de Commerce. I was trying my best to order in French wherever I could but I was not prepared for any questions about how I like my meat cooked. How do you say, “slathered in garlic butter,” à la française?
Award winning Farine&O was literally on our doorstep. We stopped by pretty much every morning.
Instead of getting the metro we started off the day by walking towards the Seine and went via Rue Crémieux. It reminds me of a cross between Nothing Hill in London and the mews of Edinburgh.
Our destination was the Jardin des Plantes which hosts the National Museum of Natural History as well as a zoo, botanic gardens and tropical greenhouse. Not going to lie, none of those fabulous things was the reason I wanted to visit. I went for the Dodo Manège, a unique carousel that has dinosaurs and dodo birds amongst other animals different from traditional horses. This is the second time in four years I’ve tried to visit and it has been closed on both occasions! Third time’s a charm?
Walking through the Sorbonne University campus and along the Seine, we made it to Shakespeare and Company, another of the top places I wanted to visit on this trip. It’s such an iconic bookshop that has been mentioned in some of my favourite novels as well as documentaries. Inside is not just a book shop, but a place to leave notes to the world and listen as guests play softly on an antique piano. It was a really special moment for me personally and I left a ‘message in a bottle,’ on a receipt for it to be tucked into a book and read by a future visitor.
I was going to buy a book inside to commemorate the occasion but was struggling to decide between the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Jane is Trying. I went for the contemporary novel as the classic didn’t match my specific collection back home. I was delighted when they stamped it for me and I got a little bookmark too.
Notre Dame was understandably closed following the 2019 fire but there were exhibition boards surrounding the church with information on the restoration going ahead. It also meant that Point Zéro des Routes de France was inaccessible to the public. It is said that those who stand on the marker are destined to return someday.
In the summer haze, we continued around the Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis for a seat in the sun and some jazz on the connecting bridge.
In a city full of surprises, I was able to meet up with my friend Steven who moved to Geneva last year! I got to meet some of his lovely friends from all across Europe and we had lunch together and continued our walk along the Seine as a bigger group.
Pont des Arts was the next feature of our Seine tour. The bridge often appears in films, like Now You See Me but it’s now less recognisable without being weighed down by love locks.
Many of the striped columns at Palais Royal were another reminder of how short I am (as if my friends hadn’t mentioned it every day since we arrived).
On our walk back to the Airbnb it only made sense to get ice cream from Amorino. Refreshing and pretty, how I strive to be in my everyday life. My flower was made from stracciatella, chocolate, hazelnut/chocolate and mascarpone/fig and was sensational.
The final night of our holiday in Paris was not only the best evening of the whole holiday but one of my life. I had no idea what was coming featuring a bizarre metro journey featuring a singing driver.
It was a really special moment to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at 11pm whilst a busker sang Counting Stars by OneRepublic. My pals and I have been friends for over a decade and I like to wonder what our 11-year-old versions of ourselves would say if they saw us now.
I was exceptionally saddened by the last trip to Carrefour City so bought myself some wine and snacks to take back to Edinburgh. My Milka cookies lasted less than 48h after we Ianded. It would’ve been quicker but AirFrance thought my suitcase deserved a longer holiday than me.
After dropping our cases at a hotel for a wee bit we walked around the covered passages of Paris and did some more window shopping. We even found a cross-stitch shop! Bit ironic that I travelled to France to buy a cross-stitch kit for a Highland Cow.
Saying goodbye to the Parisian streets for now.
Final goodbyes accompanied by final pastries. A pain au praline and coffee (that I spilt down myself) before our flight. I’m going to miss the croissants of Paris a lot, just like how I miss my pals.
Feeling quite lucky to have had relatively smooth airport experiences, given the recent chaos. We even had a warm welcome with sunset views over the Firth of Forth as we landed back in Scotland. It was all too soon that I was back at work (less than 10h later) and reality but we’ll always have the memories from Paris.