The speedy guide to Paris: How much can you see in 4 days?
Paris, the eternally romantic city and one of the world classic places for engagement and proposals. Home of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Opera Garnier; as well as beautiful gardens, Sacre Coure and did I mention the fantastic food? Phew. But how much can you see in just four days? Well we found out last weekend when we headed to Paris for a city break with romance, family and more culture than you can shake a stick at.
I booked our trip months ago when I started planning on how I would ask Hana to marry me. I’d thought of a whole bunch of places and ways I could propose to Hana but when the opportunity to take her to Paris came up… I couldn’t think of a better place to propose.
So this is the story of our engagement weekend. One filled with romantic settings, whistle-stop tours and meeting a whole new set of relatives.
4 days in Paris: an early start and the civilized way to travel.
If you have read my guide to Rome or Athens you’ll know I’m not a fan of flying. This time I wouldn’t have to face that daemon – my saviour coming in the shape of the Eurostar train between London and Paris. Taking all of two hours and fifteen minutes the Eurostar threads its way beneath London before rocketing through the countryside of England and France with a dip under the channel in the middle.
It really is a better way to travel, there’s leg room for a start. You can walk around, relax in the buffet car with a bit of breakfast or just sit back and watch the world speed by. As we took the 7 am train I thought a continental breakfast of croissant, coffee and orange juice was in order.
Gare du Nord comes up faster than you think and suddenly we were in Paris, city of love. I’d been pretty cautious on the train ride over and wasn’t about to stop now – when you have an engagement ring in your luggage you tend hold it pretty tightly. As this summer has been gorgeous in London we figured Paris would be sunny too. So imagine getting of the train in Paris to a rainy day with only summer clothes with you! It didn’t matter too much as it was quite warm and we figured we’d just brave the elements.
“Stylishly modern but decidedly practical”
Where to stay
Our hotel – The Hotel George Opera – was around a half an hour walk from the Gare du Nord, mid way between the edge of Monmartre and the Opera Garnier, in the up and coming ‘SoPi’ area of Pigalle. We wandered along the Boulevard de Clichy before dropping down towards Opera and finally finding the entrance.
Hotel George was recently renovated and redecorated in a Parisian style. The hotel describes itself as “Stylishly modern but decidedly practical”. Though our rooms wouldn’t be ready till the afternoon we left our luggage at the funky and cool looking reception and took a quick look around. It looked just a lovely as it did on the website, very Parisian, very chic and with a mustache motif hiding everywhere you looked.
After leaving our bags at the hotel we headed out into a rather damp Paris for Hana’s first taste of Paris and a little surprise.
Amelie from Montmartre.
I’m a huge fan of the French film Amelie, in my opinion it’s the perfect film. The cinematography and score are perfect, let alone the alluring background of Paris itself. Just a few minutes walk from our hotel is the Café des Deux Moulins. The Two Windmills Cafe was made famous by Jean Pierre Jeunet in his hit film as Amelie’s work place and the setting for a lot of the film. Today they offer an Amelie experience on the menu – hot chocolate and crème brûlée – which this time I passed up due to a few nerves.
We wandered around Momtmartre. We visited the majestic Bascillica Sacre Coeur, saw the resplendent view of Paris below and walked through the artistic yet touristy heart of Montmartre, Place du Tertre. A lovely lunch in a random restaurant later and it was time for me to ask the the big question.
My plan was pretty simple, head to the Canal St Martin, find a lovely bridge (just like in Amelie) and pop the big question. It’s a moment I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I hadn’t quite realised the walk between the two would go through some of the less salubrious areas of Paris, but ho hum, I had a plan and I was sticking with it.
Eventually we reached the Canal and initially it wasn’t quite what I expected at first. After a bit of a walk we found the part I’d seen pictures of and the moment approached.
Cometh the hour…
The moment itself all went in a bit of a whirlwind. One minute we were standing on a bridge which looked right, one with a nice view of the canal and then it was time. I remember reaching in my pocket and clutching the box and then dropping to one knee… A few seconds later we were engaged!
So there we are, engaged and in Paris. We had some drinks, checked in at the hotel ate dinner and felt very loved up. A perfect day if I do say to myself.
I’ll be blogging very soon about the other three days or our Paris trip – what we saw, where we ate and more. Till then I’n off to walk on the same cloud I’ve been on for the past week!