The day before my 30th birthday in August I made my way to London Victoria in nervous anticipation about where I was going to spend the day itself. Many months before James had asked me whether I wanted a gift or a day out, I chose the latter as I think experiences and memories are often more valuable than gifts (but also because I really didn’t want to organise what to do myself!). Somewhere along the way the destination became a secret, which became partly exciting and partly excruciating as I realised what a control freak I can be when it comes to knowing where I’m going, when and what I should be packing.
We ate lunch and I patiently waited for the big reveal. I didn’t specify going overseas and I’ve mentioned UK destinations over the year. I’ve never been to Paris and have always wanted to go but I didn’t assume that’s where he’d choose (partly as I didn’t want him to feel I was disappointed if it turned out to be anywhere else). So when I opened my clue, a box of Ladurée, I was pretty excited to know that I wasn’t heading to Covent Garden but PARIS.
Whilst I scoffed a few macarons, we made our way to Gatwick and hopped on a 40 minute plane to Paris. There’s something about the first moment you see iconic sights in other cities and I did a little seat dance when I saw the Eiffel Tower from the plane window.
Once we’d figured out the Metro we made our way to Montmartre, dropped our bags at Hotel des Arts, and wandered into the local area for a glass of wine. It was a lovely balmy summer’s evening and I couldn’t have been more excited to head out into the night, leaving the tiredness of travel in the hotel room. We enjoyed a late night galette, a glass or two of red wine at a local bistro and made our way back to the hotel for a blissful last sleep as a twenty-year-old.
Due to other birthday plans which I’d made, I knew we only had about 36 hours to see as much as we could and that I’d have to miss a few things. But we woke up bright and early the next day, opened a few cards, exchanged a few messages and headed to the Metro very excited to see Paris.
I felt a little lost at sea not knowing the plan inside out but I didn’t need to worry as James had done plenty of research.
We started by the Seine and soaked up the morning light and the strange quietness of a capital city in summer mode.
The bridge was weighed down by love locks, which I spotted all over the city.
We hopped across to Île de la Cité where you’ll find the Notre Dame and other beautiful places just as the cafes were casually opening their doors.
We took a seat at the cafe nearest our first stop and enjoyed the obligatory coffee and pastry.
Whether it was the pastry, the surroundings, the company or the fact it was my 30th birthday, I couldn’t have been happier. There are plenty of good coffee shops popping up in Paris but I was happy with my traditional cup, served by a slightly grumpy waiter.
Knowing my love of photography, James had planned Sainte Chappelle as our first stop.
A royal medieval Gothic chapel built all the way back in the 13th century. The intricate detail is unbelievable.
The stained glass is incredible.
And its size is breath-taking.
I couldn’t resist an #ihavethisthingwithfloors moment with these tiles.
After taking about a hundred pictures, as James had predicted, we wandered round to Notre Dame. Took the tourist shot.
And carried on wandering in the direction of Montparnasse. As you can imagine, with all of those pretty Parisian sights in our paths, it took
us me some time.
We stopped in Le Jardin Du Luxembourg for lunch.
And then zig-zagged our way to Montparnasse Tower.
If we hadn’t have come up to these heights I would possibly have never known about or seen some of the sites in short trip. Above is the Montparnasse Cemetery, home to many famous and influential people in Paris, it must be fascinating to explore.
You can really see how the city is laid out.
But of course, this was probably the main view I was looking for.
I was in tourist mode and I had to get a close up.
It was reaching 5pm by this point and as we had a table booked I had to make the tough choice of heading home and dressing up for my birthday dinner, instead of squeezing a few more sights or eating some Parisian delights.
We returned to Montmarte and took a gentle stroll back to the hotel, picking up an ice cream on the way (we were on holiday after all!).
Montmarte is such a great place to stay, it’s so vibrant and I loved the creative atmosphere that filled the streets and decorated the walls.
Once we’d got dressed up and James had shown me where we were heading for dinner, I asked if we could take a detour to Sacre Coeur.
Such a beautiful building, I can see why there were so many people there.
We had 15 minutes to spare, which I deemed just enough time to climb about 300 steps to reach the top.
I lingered at every window and could have stayed there for a long time.
But dinner was calling so we hot-footed it through the quaint Montmartre village.
James had taken advice from a Parisian colleague for dinner and booked a table at Chamarré Montmartre
It was delicious right from the chilled glass of rose.
To the perfectly cooked beef.
And lamb (for James).
With the Millefuelle to finish.
The sunset on a pretty perfect 30th birthday and we made our way into the rest of the evening, involving glasses of wine in the warm outdoors.
I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Paris. I have a feeling a return trip will feature next year!