I decided that 2023 would be a year filled with even more travel. When I was trying to decide where to go, Eurostar and Paris weren’t on my list of places to go.
I was looking for flights and couldn’t really find any that stuck out to me. I was trying to get as much done as possible whilst my passport was still allowed. It is expiring in November and most countries in the world want you to have 6 months of validity from the day you enter. Owing to this, May was my cut-off time.
I decided since I couldn’t see any flights that stuck out to me, I would look at Eurostar and Amsterdam in particular. The fares were reasonable. The thing that put me off was the cost of the hostels in Amsterdam. Nearly £30 a night in a dorm room. That’s way above what I like to pay so I decided to look at Paris instead. It had been a long time since I was last there (2016 I think). You can read about that trip here.
Since it had been so long and fares were £39 each way, I decided to just do it. It only takes under an hour to get to London and then under 2.5 hours to Paris. Why in the hell not… right?
The prices that I got them for meant the last train to Paris and an afternoon train back. That was totally fine with me as public transport in Paris was still running at the time I got in and for some time afterward also.
I got my stuff together and headed to London and then to Paris. It was a fairly dark and uneventful journey – I still couldn’t sleep though.
I got off the train in Paris and it was a familiar feeling – even though it had been so long since I had been there. I knew exactly where to pick up the metro and that made it so much less stressful.
I got to the hostel and I was ready to just sleep as I was shattered. I had been sent a notification from Eurostar that January 31st was a strike day in the country and that public transport would be limited to rush hour only where the lines weren’t driverless.
I lay in bed trying to decide whether to stay close to the hostel for the day or get up early and catch the metro when it was running, walk around the city, and then catch the metro back when it was running.
I guess you’ll have to check tomorrow to see what I decided!
It probably won’t come as any surprise that I decided to get up early and get the metro and have a walk around the city. I kind of had an idea of where I wanted to go and how I would get there.
I decided that today I would go and see the big sights as tomorrow I was meeting someone from the hostel I stayed at in Cairo and would spend the afternoon with him and he would be a tour guide for me.
The plan for today was to get the metro to somewhere near Notre Dame and have a wander around that area and then either walk to the Eiffel Tower or get the driverless metro line to the Arc de Triomphe and then wander around there and walk to the Trocadero and see the Eiffel Tower before heading back to the hostel.
I got the metro to Pont Marie and got out there on the banks of the Seine and decided I would have a walk around this area to see what was there. It was a part of Paris I hadn’t visited before so it was cool to do this. My first quest was to find the souvenirs I wanted and then to carry on walking around. But for the general strike, I was in the area earlier than I had planned to be and the souvenir shops weren’t open just yet so I enjoyed the nice stroll around the streets and along the river.
I set about taking pictures of quirky and interesting things. There are a lot of things like this here. I walked across Pont Marie to Ile Saint-Louis and had a walk around this small island in the Seine and then headed across Pont de la Tournelle to the other side of the Seine to see what was in this area. I walked along the river towards the souvenir shop and also find somewhere with a bathroom as I had already had too much to drink. I kid you not, I can just look at liquid and need to use the bathroom.
I found a souvenir shop and got my bits and bobs and found a Subway. I had to have food anyway so I could take my meds. I bought a six-inch sub and it was almost £6. Paris is an expensive city man. I used the bathroom there and then headed across Pont au Double and had a sit down to eat and drink and take meds. The views were along the river and right up close to the Notre Dame cathedral. It was weird to see it still covered in scaffolding and the work still being done to repair it from the fire in 2019. You can read about that here. I had never ventured into the cathedral when I was here in 2016. I did walk by it and it was familiar being in that area. I was remembering the last visit.
After I was done eating, I looked for some more souvenir shops as I hadn’t found a lanyard yet and wanted one. I looked in a few more and the only ones they had were for the Paris 2024 Olympics. They weren’t for me. I carried on walking around that area and came across a church that I decided to have a look at before I headed back to walking around.
I pretty much walked in a circle and ended up back by Notre Dame. I had to use the bathroom and knew there were some by the cathedral. be warned though – they charge for them and don’t tell you until you are right inside and at the gates. I told them I needed to be sick and didn’t have any money. They let me in and I pretended I was sick. I know, it wasn’t good but I was desperate.
I left and carried on across Pont au Change (Notre Dame is on Ile de la Cite) to Place du Chatelet as I had seen a tower that had caught my eye and wanted to see what it was for. It was a monument to the Napoleonic victories. I also found a cafe and went and had a crepe so I could also have a crepe in their bathrooms.
I went and sat by Tour Saint-Jacques and had the pancake and just enjoyed the sounds of Paris. After that, I headed to Pont Neuf so I could go and sit by the river and just look out and take in the views.
Earlier on in the day I had walked around by Eglise Saint-Gervais and also Hotel de Ville. These were both cool buildings.
After I was done at Pont Neuf, I headed towards Chatelet metro station so I could head up to the Arc de Triomphe.
It is hard to put into words just how massive and majestic this monument is. It is also really cool. When I was here last time, I only saw it on the sightseeing bus. I am glad I actually got somewhat up close to it.
I will say though, the metro station at Charles de Gaulle – Etoile is a massive maze that you can easily get lost in if you don’t have a map to show you which exit you need. I didn’t care all that much because, you know, steps and all that.
This part of Paris is really impressive. The Arc de Triomphe sits on a roundabout that has 12 streets coming off it – the main one being Avenue de Champs Elysees.
If you want to go onto the roundabout to get up close to this, you have two ways of doing it: paying the entrance fee or being brave/stupid (you decide which) enough to actually cross the road. Yeah, good luck with the latter.
I spent about an hour here (I was in somewhat of a rush to see the main sights so I could be back on the metro before it closed and I would have to shell out for an Uber or walk the five or so miles back to the hostel) and then walked down Avenue Kleber to the Trocadero where I knew I could overlook the Eiffel Tower. Even though I had seen it before, it was still an impressive sight to behold. I stayed here and admired the view for about an hour and then headed to the metro so I could go back to the hostel. My feet were crying at this point and I also didn’t want a late night like I had last night as I planned to be up early tomorrow so I could see the rest of the sights on my list before meeting A.
I dropped my stuff off at the hostel and then took a nice stroll to Carrefour and picked up some food and sat on the bench by the canal enjoying it before heading to bed. I did have a walk around the area by the hostel before I did as it is a pretty cool area.
Disclaimer: there are some bits I have probably missed out and this is my brain not functioning properly).
Total steps: 25,539
Total miles: 11.76
Below are some pics from today
I decided to have a lie-in today since I didn’t have to check out until 11:00. I needed it after being up early the last few days. I didn’t really lie in though as I was awake at about 08:30. It was good as it meant I could check to see if the UK passport office had any appointments in Peterborough. If they did, it would give me a chance to call them and rearrange it.
I had one booked for February 3rd but realised I would need to get a new visa for Azerbaijan and there was no guarantee I would get it in time. When I realised this, I called the passport office and we set it to the 15th in Newport, Wales just so I could keep changing it if I needed to. I kept checking every morning to see if any were available for Peterborough but nothing. Somehow they did show up for February 20th this morning so I was eager to sort it. It’s sorted and in Peterborough. Yay me.
I think I went back to sleep for about an hour – though I can’t be sure. I had packed last night so I wasn’t in a huge rush. I checked out and took a slow walk to the metro and then sat in the station for about 45 minutes eating and drinking so I could take my pills.
I got to Gare du Nord and found a Carrefour to get some drinks for the train. I also had Five Guys and what a rip-off it is at the station. It was as expensive as it usually is, but you only got one drink for the same price as Five Guys elsewhere. €3.95 for ONE DAMN DRINK.
I was happy to be on the train until the woman sitting next to me yawned and got her manky breath everywhere. So disgusting. I was so glad to be off in London. We were pulling into the station and she was happily tapping away on her keyboard without a care in the world. I had to go to stand up before she asked if I wanted out. Well, duh. Of course, I did. Idiot.
I got off and found an ATM so I could get some money and head to Chinatown to pick up some pork buns. I don’t recommend travelling around the tube with a backpack, roll-along bag, carrier bag, jacket, and then some pork buns too. It’s a nightmare!
I got to Kings Cross and was happy to sit and wait for about 90 minutes for the train back home. My feet were also so happy.
All in all, Paris was a good trip and somewhere I would go to again. Do it, go, visit, you know you want to!
Total steps: 67,053
Total miles: 31.27
You can view all of my pics from Paris here