Last weekend we (Angus and I) were in Paris on a long weekend holiday to visit my cousin Claudia who’s studying there. I know that there are about a million and one travel guides for Paris, this is not one of them. If I’m honest, I did very little prep for this holiday. Since my cousin has been living there for months, I figured she’d know her way around and we’re already familiar with all the typical tourist destinations. So, in lieu of writing yet another travel guide, I’m telling you very simply what we did. Or at least I’m giving you the highlights. It was a miraculous weekend, and I think no travel guide can really tell you how to have one of those. This, is Paris in the rain.
How we got there
We flew direct from Edinburgh to Charles de Gaulle. It took approximately twelve million years. We left the flat at 10:30, and got to our Airbnb at 5:30 (6:30 Paris time). You always think it’s just a quick flight but there’s also the bus to the airport, the waiting in the airport, the train to the city, the walking to the flat. It was a lot. I was hungry and grumpy.
Where we stayed
We rented an Airbnb in Montmartre, it was artsy and decorated, as Angus put it, like an opium den. Seriously. It was one of those cool moody Airbnbs, but really we booked it because it was so cheap. Under $500 CAD for 4 nights! Plus, Montmartre is an ideal location, away from the hustle and bustle but still close to the Metro, train stations and tourist destinations. The chiming of Sacre Coeur through the open window was a nice touch too.
Naturally, we spent a lot of time there, often to going to eat. It was the first place we went on Thursday night after we settled in the Airbnb. We wandered up the steps (my god Montmartre is an accessibility nightmare), to the streets behind Sacre Coeur. We went to a very touristy Le Ceni that had good prices – three courses for 15euro. I had the French onion soup (duh), penne and a crème brulée. YUM. We were so hungry we didn’t speak to each other for the better part of the meal. Montmartre is a lovely place to walk around, I love spotting Sacre Coeur from around Paris and there are tons of cafes below/in the surrounding area to pop in to.
We planned to go to Giverny to visit Monet’s gardens on Friday, but a random train strike vetoed that plan. Angus thought it would be nice to take me to the Musée Marmottan instead as they have the biggest collection of Monet. Turns out, I love gardens… but I don’t love Monet. It’s impossible to escape the art gallery tourist problem. Even in this gallery, a bit outside the centre, a bit off the beaten path, tourists were shoulder to shoulder taking photos of the most famous paintings on their old flip phones. You know you can Google those, right?! If you want a picture to prove you saw it, you should be in the picture!
Tourist destination hopping
We walked the entirety of central Paris, making sure we went to every hotspot and smooched in front of the most photographed landmarks. We started at the Tuileries, walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, crossed past Trocadero to the Arc de Triomphe, then shopped along the Champs Elysée until we (eventually) got to Le Marais and Notre Dame. After stopping into Shakespeare and Company we headed home. My knee perished along the way.
Paris in the rain
It was a rainy weekend, but who can plan the weather? And we’re from Scotland, for goodness’ sake! We can handle a little rain. Especially when it’s Paris in the rain. We shop hopped in Le Marais to stay out of the downpour and discovered an adorable specialty sock shop. You read that right. They specialised in socks. Made in Japan. Angus bought me a pair and they are pure luxury. And so, we held hands and kissed and talked about how we’d talk about Paris in the rain years from now, and it was perfect. And I love my socks.
I’m known for my love of croissants, my out of office notification even made a joke about it, ok? So I needed to eat as many pastries as possible over the weekend. Queue patisserie hunting. I’m not even going to bother giving you names because you don’t need them. Finding them is part of the fun! You could be dropped anywhere in Paris’ city centre and find a patisserie made of pure indulgent dreams. Bonus points if you’ve caught Paris in the rain, and you patisserie hunt to stay out of the rain. Nothing quite brightens the day like some colourful macarons.
Angelina’s Hot Chocolate, of course.
The only recommendation/piece of advice I received before going was that Angelina’s was very touristy and expensive, but worth it. They serve hot chocolate made of pure ooey gooey chocolatey goodness. It’s genuinely just melted chocolate. And like… high quality chocolate. It tasted like Christmas and childhood and comfort and was worth every penny! Also the decor was very luxurious and I got to pretend I was the kind of tourist who would might drop by Louis Vuitton for a new bag later that day. You know, on a whim. Casual.
Meeting with friends
Ah, the reason I went, and the best part of the holiday. I spent evenings in our tiny Montmartre apartment sucking back cheap red wine and eating brie on baguettes with the same cousin I used to plan sleepovers with whenever she was in town. And it was (
stereotypically French), perfectly normal for us. It was one of those moments you realise how old you are. Then, I got to spend an afternoon with my friend Lydie, an Edinburgh enthusiast who comes to visit as often as possible, in her town this time! She took us to new restaurants and cafes we never would have found on our own, and did a photoshoot on an adorable lane in Montmartre.
What do you think about Paris in the rain? Better than a travel guide? Maybe not as useful, but more fun to read I think.