Is there anywhere as perfect for the first overseas trip of a new couple?
My husband and I went to Paris when we’d been together just a few months, and decided we’d just take a few days over there to sample the city. I wasn’t blogging back then, 11 years ago, so I don’t have the three thousand photographs I would have if we went again! Perhaps that’s a good enough reason to return for our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary… as if we need an excuse to revisit the city of love.
Here are some of the things we experienced while we were there, and some that we hope to do next time we go.
Where to stay
Last time we visited Paris, we stayed in a mid-range hotel near to the city centre. I forget the name of it now, but it was very small! The location was good though and that’s what we were paying for largely. I think next time we’ll look at renting one of the many luxury homes in France that are available for couples, families and groups, in any area of the country. My husband drives in Europe for a living these days so we wouldn’t be nearly as nervous about renting a car in a busy city now. I think staying somewhere with a few extra special touches would make the next trip even more perfect than the last. We would have more freedom to prepare meals at home or plan some down time at the place we’re staying, without having to sit in bed watching TV!
We visited the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees on our last visit. We are great believers in trying local cuisines and experiences where possible, particularly in a country we haven’t visited before. With this in mind we visited a very nice restaurant on the Champs-Elysees itself as well as a small, family run cafe in a side street out of town. We used the train, taxi and bus services too – all of which were excellent.
To add to a future experience of the city, I think we would need to visit the Louvre Museum. Perhaps we’re somewhat more cultured than we were all of those years ago! Another thing I think I’d like to do next time would be to watch Moulin Rouge, though that would mean the trip would have to be just for the two of us, and not the children.
When we visited the restaurants I mentioned just now, we decided to try some of the dishes that France is known for. Frog legs and snails at the restaurant on the Champs-Elysees, and another day we had Croc Madame in the small side street cafe. I must say I enjoyed the cafe meal more, but I wanted to give these things a try. I should imagine it’s mostly tourists who eat things like frog legs now in the tourist hotspots like Paris, but I wanted to try them nonetheless. I found the frog legs to be very fiddly indeed, and a lot of effort for very little actual food. The snails were… eww. Well, they tasted like garlic flavoured grit to me, but I’m no expert of course! They were so tricky to extract from the shells, but the waiter was quite helpful in showing me how to eat them ‘properly’.
Away from the City Centre
One of my favourite days in Paris was spent just wandering through some nearby neighbourhoods, seeing real lives. Children coming home from school, people going about their daily business, street vendors selling their wares. I love to people watch and to imagine the story behind the person. I think on a future visit I’d really like to see more of what goes on outside the main tourist attractions. There are lots of companies who offer private tours of all kinds of places within the city, so I think that would be a lovely way to spend some time in a city as beautiful as Paris.
As I mentioned, we used several types of public transport whilst in France. It was fairly easy to navigate, we didn’t get lost (which is nothing short of amazing for me!) and the prices were reasonable too. Taking the Metro from the airport through to the city centre was a great way to see more of the country and its people. I definitely think we’d do that again on our return, given the opportunity. Something else I noticed when I was on the train from the airport into the city centre was that everyone on the train seemed to be very polite. Not necessarily to us (though we didn’t have any negative experiences) but also to each other. Old and young, school children, teenagers, older people… they all seemed so relaxed. Perhaps I was looking at it through rose-tinted holiday sunglasses but it really made me feel at ease, and that has to be good!
Have you ever been to Paris? Or perhaps you have another part of France with a special place in your heart? Next year we are hoping to plan a very special road trip in Europe and much of that will be in France. We’ll see Normandy, Rochefort, Bordeaux and Marseilles amongst many other places. If you have any tips on where to go or what to do around any of those places please do leave a comment and let me know. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to include Paris that time but if we can, we will!