Monday, 14 April 2014

A spontaneous spring weekend in Paris, part 1.

I think my favourite thing to do in Paris is simply to walk. Walk and admire. Because everything is so so very beautiful.

And, dear friends, it just so happens that walking and admiring Paris is exactly what I've spent the past few days doing. I've also been a complete tourist and taken over 300 photos in about 48 hours which is both ludicrous and testament to how instagram-worthy a city Paris is. (SO difficult picking out the best ones for the blog wahh!)

Even though I've seen them all before, we powed out pretty much all Paris' top sights, taking selfies as we went. So, let me take you on a little trip round the most beautiful city in the world (well, the most beautiful one I've ever visited) as I reminisce about one simply wonderful weekend...

It's a bit of a complicated story as to how I ended up in Paris this weekend, but to cut a long story short, I found myself on the train from Brussels to Paris on Saturday morning, having decided to do so the mere day before. Look at me go! So spontaneous! I'm usually a compulsive planner so this was kind of a big deal.

Super luckily for moi, my dear friend Liv is currently living and working in Paris on her year abroad. What's more, she was conveniently free as a bird this weekend and could thus accommodate a very excitable Bruxelloise (oh, the audacity to call myself that!) at the last minute. And excitable I was indeed.

Paris is, as Michael McIntyre would say, my favourite city of them all. This may have been my fifth or sixth trip to the city of lights, but I was still so excited! I often think looking forward to a trip is as much a part of the fun as the actual trip itself, but it turns out a spontaneous unplanned weekend away is a lot of fun too.

Guess what? Paris and Brussels are super close. On the Thalys train it takes a mere 1h20 or so, and the trains are pretty snazzy: plenty of legroom and all pink, red and purple but in a stylish way, not a clashing 'ARGH MY EYES' kinda fashion.

After all, it's Paris. You have to make an effort to be stylish in Paris, don't you? So, feeling super sparkly (both inside and out) and dressed in an extremely un-Parisienne style (pretty sure they only wear black, beige and maybe navy if they're feeling adventurous) I arrived in Paris late morning and met up with my total babe of a friend, Liv.

After dropping of my bag at Liv's flat, the first stop was an adorbs little café/pâtisserie/chocolaterie/salon de thé called Le Valentin. Turns out the crazy lady was yet to have breakfast, so while Liv nommed up some of Paris' finest viennoiseries and I sipped an overpriced but delicious juice, we caught up and nattered away as girlfriends do.

Liv is a girl after my own heart, so we also formulated a rough plan for the rest of the day. Not an itinerary, oh no (wouldn't dream of it, ahem), but an outline. Well, with only a few days in Paris you've got to use your time efficiently, am I right?

The sun was shining and we headed off to stroll through some of Paris snazziest areas: past the Opera...

The Opera

...through glitzy Place Vendome, and on to swanky Boulevard Haussmann. The latter is where you'll find a lot of Paris' most expensive and trendiest shops, including most of the designer flagships. Unsurprisingly, the people-watching is also top-notch.

We moseyed around popping into designer boutiques and imagining what it would be like to actually shop there on a regular basis. I couldn't resist a quick look into Manoush, a super sparkly bright label which I love (to admire, anyway).

There was one other shop I simply had to visit while in Paris, and that was Longchamp.

Nearly three years ago when visiting my brother in Paris on his year abroad, I went into Longchamp and loved their special Eiffel Tower design bags, which I believe you can only get in their Paris store. They're just the same as the canvas Longchamp bags so many women have, but with an Eiffel Tower design, ergo better (in my opinion.)

Having looked it up online, I've learned their classic canvas bag is actually called Le Pliage (must be from plier which means 'to fold', and yup, that's what the ballet step is on about too).

So, I saw that Eiffel Tower Pliage bag in navy years ago and have regretted not buying it ever since.

Truth in the Longchamp store
When Mama Hosie came to visit me in Brussels a few weeks ago we went to Longchamp and spent a while admiring and discussing their canvas bags. I may also have said that the next time I went to Paris, I'd buy myself an Eiffel Tower one, if they still did them. Well, that next time came around a lot quicker than I'd expected.

And since that weekend with my mum, I've noticed those Longchamp bags EVERYWHERE! Everyone has one. They're a staple. So practical, yet chic. Lightweight and capacious with a handy inside pocket.

Now, I of course love my big leather bags, but they are rather heavy. Not so with the Longchamps, my friends.

So, as Liv and I went into Longchamp on Saturday afternoon, I was pretty excited to see they still had Eiffel Tower bags, YAY! Alas, no navy, but bright blue or cream/stone/beige, each in three sizes.

And here's a cheeky inside scoop for you: the autumn/winter colours for this year will be dark grey and a purply pink, coming out towards the end of August or beginning of September. You know, just in case you should find yourself on a cheeky trip to Paris around then...

So, I spent a fair amount of time trying on the two colours and various sizes, mulling over whether I could justify spending rather a lot of money on what is essentially a canvas bag.

Reader, you know I did. Oops.

Because even though it's just a canvas bag, it's a Longchamp canvas bag, and the leather handles really do make it look good quality and more expensive. Le Pliage is a staple, and I was going to have to get one at some point in my life, so why not the Eiffel Tower one from the Paris flagship? Exactly.

Equally, Liv is literally the queen of Longchamp bags, so there couldn't have been a better person with whom to buy one. Seriously, I think she has more than anyone else I know. I remember her once arriving at a lecture, opening up a big Longchamp bag and getting out a little Longchamp bag! Madness.

However, she used this wisdom and experience to point out that you really do want one with the big handles, as not being able to carry it over your shoulder would be a right pain. To quote the website: "this bag is ideal for shopping." Well, I'm not going to argue with that.

I also decided to go for the beige in the end - it'll go with everything and should still be wearable even if I become an old lady who no longer dresses as brightly as an eight year old girl. (Quote Liv: "I don't know how you do it, Rach. You dress like a little girl but somehow is works.")

So yay for me! I am now the proud owner of a Longchamp bag. Well, it was going to have to happen eventually... Shall we just pause for a moment and admire the details?

Moving on, Liv and I headed over to the Tuileries, a beautiful big park by the Louvre, which was full of happy people enjoying the spring sunshine on a warm Saturday afternoon.

Ooh edgy 'from behind' shot
Cracking up because we can't pull off being edgy
What's that I spy on the horizon..?

We joined the rest of Paris for a picnic lunch and sat down to rest our weary legs amongst the beautiful blossom and bright tulips. It was a little bit blissful.

After lunch we walked through the grand old square around the Louvre...

...and on to Paris' famous 'Lovelock' Bridge (I believe that's its official name).

We walked along the Seine, and all afternoon I had that song from Mamma Mia in my head: you know, 'Walks along the Seine, laughing in the rain...' I'm sure you can hear Colin Firth in your head making that tenuous rhyme now too.

We walked and walked until we realised we really needed to sit. So sit by the river we did, me oh-so-carefully holding my new Longchamp bag. Can you imagine if I'd dropped it into the river!? Quelle désastre!

It was that point in the afternoon - we were flagging, our feet were aching, and I was in desperate need of both sugar and tea. So, back to Liv's we went for both of those and a side of chillage. Parfait.

Don't worry, my friend, we're coming back for ya...
Feeling somewhat more energised after putting our feet up and watching a spot of Gossip Girl, we ventured out for some dinner at the Parisian chain, Café Indiana. They serve everything from fajitas to burgers - big, delicious meals at good prices (for Paris, that is - it really is a ludicrously expensive city but I forgive it because of the beauty.)

Full of fajitas and enchiladas, Liv and I dashed across town to Trocadero - I'd never been before but that's where you get the best view of the Eiffel Tower. Everyone knows that it's beautifully lit-up at night, but did you know it sparkles for the first five minutes of every hour? It's super beaut. Kinda like a big metal Christmas tree. Kinda.

It was just gone 9pm when Liv and I ran out of the Metro and pushed through the crowds as best we could to get a glimpse of the sparkling symbol of the city (and a selfie, obvs.)

Even after the sparkling had finished, the Eiffel Tower looked stunning - it was that stage of the night where there's still a hint of blue to the sky. 

After admiring the beautiful view for some time, Liv and I decided to take a stroll underneath the Tower itself...

And then, well, in true Forrest Gump fashion, we carried on strolling. (Yes alright, I know Forrest was running not strolling but that would have just been stupid.)

We didn't know where we were, but we were feeling so spontanées, care-free and hopped up on Year Abroad joy that we didn't even care. If you think Paris is pretty in the day, it's a whole lotta somethin' else by night.

Before we knew it, it was nearly 10pm, and we just happened to find ourselves with a rather fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower again. Well, it would've been rude not to stay for the sparkles, wouldn't it?

We actually did get a passer-by to take a proper photo of us but I prefer the selfie, quite frankly.

There had been talk of going out for cocktails, but to be honest with you, all these 21 year old gals wanted was a crêpe and to go to bed. 

Très conveniently, Liv knows a super duper crêpe place just round the corner from her flat, so that is where we went - it's originally named Crêpe de Paris. There are crêpe places all over the shop in Paris (just like waffles in Brussels) but this one had a queue outside whereas none of the others in the neighbourhood did. And now I know why.

Photo taken the next day, obvs
Naturally, we both went for nutella. And pleasingly, there was a LOT of nutella!

Keep it coming, ma friends.
Nutella aside, the actual crêpe was amazing - it was thicker and fluffier than most, not to mention absolutely massive.

Sorry, I think I was enjoying myself too much to take good pictures. You'll just have to trust me.
Liv couldn't finish hers. I'm told no-one can. Not even Liv's boyfriend, Sam.

So should I be ashamed or proud that I DEMOLISHED mine? It was just too good, I don't understand how you could leave any. And yes, I licked all the nutella out of the paper at the end. AND what?!

I arrived home with nutella all over my face along with a huge grin. I was full of the joy, beauty and wonder of Paris. Oh, and crêpe.

Check out part 2 of my Paris weekend here... There's lots more lovely, pretty and yummy stuff!


  1. Sounds like a great little break! Wish I could just hop on the eurostar now!

    1. Thanks... Well, it is pretty quick and easy! ;) x


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