OK, I’m going to say it. I’ve never particularly liked Paris. I’ve always found it a little over rated. But as I wandered the streets in the sunshine last week, going nowhere in particular I discovered a newfound love for the city. I also uncovered parts of Paris I didn’t even know existed, maybe because I was travelling solo so could go wherever I wanted at my own pace. It’s the first time I’ve left the UK for Europe in two years and it felt so good to travel again. France recently dropped its strict entry requirements for travellers so now is the time to visit.
I hopped on the Eurostar for a quick two day visit scoping hotels, restaurants and venues for a travel client. There were big queues at St Pancras, but I was through security in around 45 minutes. Infinitely better than flying and being squished on a plane with hundreds of other humans. I’m pleased to report that Paris is well and truly back open for business. The bars and cafes are packed, people are in the streets and shops and there isn’t a pass sanitaire in sight.
Right opposite the Gare Du Nord where the Eurostar terminates is the 25 Hours Hotel Terminus Nord, my home for the night. I reviewed the 25 Hours Bikini Berlin a few years ago so I was intrigued to see what the Pairs outpost had in store. And it didn’t disappoint. I love this group of hotels. With interiors inspired by the sights, sounds, characters and colours of the lively 10th arrondissement, the hotel’s interiors are a riot of technicolour and a welcome haven from the chaos of the city outside (full hotel review to follow soon).
Paris by bike
I hired a bike from the hotel for 10 euros and set off exploring the city. Exploring by bike always gives you a new perspective on a place and took me to parts of the city I’ve never seen on foot. If you’d rather not cycle alone, I spotted a group of people on a bike tour with Fat Tyre Tours, which looked fun. Take note: Paris is VERY busy and full of cars and although there are plenty of bike lanes you have to stay on high alert at all times. I’m not sure I would have done it if I’d been travelling with the kids.
Two areas that are worth exploring if you haven’t been before:
Rue Montorgueil. A few blocks away from Les Halles, this lovely district in the 1st and 2nd arrondissement of Paris is packed full of meat and fish markets, artisan shops that have been here for hundreds of years, flower sellers, restaurants and cafes. This is where Parisians head to shop and socialise. Le Compas is a classic Parisian pavement cafe where you can eat divine egg mayonnaise (why more UK restaurants don’t serve this as an appetiser I’ll never know) and incredible steaks as you sip on a cold glass of rose. I spent a few hours here happily sitting on my own watching the world go by.
Canal Saint-Martin. A canal in Paris. Who knew? This up and coming area of the city is home to hip bars, convivial street-side cafes, late-night bars, cool restaurants and one-off shops. With a bohemian spirit, local feel, locks, bridges and waterways, you could almost be in Amsterdam. Close to the Gare du Nord in the 10th arrondissement it’s definitely worth a a few hours of your time.
I’ll be taking full advantage of the £39 each way fares that have just been released by Eurostar and heading to Paris again very soon. Browse options here.
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