Here is a copy of my Paris travel review for Scotcampus magazine.
Anyone who says they don’t want to visit Paris is, well, deluded! Although well known as the city of romance, it is also a place that is perfect for students to visit. The capital of France is buzzing with cafes, restaurants, bars, sightseeing tours, shows and of course, shopping. Everyone who is anyone loves to spend time in Paris and if you’ve never thought of visiting the chic capital, now is the time to try something new.
I had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful city with one of my closest friends for the first time last month and it’s safe to say that I fell head over heels in love. Going with a friend allowed us to have a more ‘fun’ time in the city as oppose to a ‘romantic’ time with a partner. Booking our stay as a weekend break also allowed us to explore the weekend nightlife.
Staying at Hotel Agora was the perfect choice. Situated on the north right bank of the River Seine, it is a part of the 3rd arrondissement of Paris and just on the outskirts of the 4th. 300 euros for two is a bargain anywhere in Europe and Hotel Agora is one of the cheapest places to stay in the city centre. The hotel is small and almost hidden by the shrubbery outside, but the staff are helpful and friendly and most of the bedrooms feature stunning views of The Notre Dame Cathedral; reason alone to book up.
The Châtelet – Les Halles Metro station is a stone’s throw away from the hotel and is one of the busiest stations in Paris; it even includes a shopping centre. The Metro itself is the easiest and quickest way to navigate across the city. It is a daunting experience at first but once you’ve used it once you’ll be hooked. Trains are available until the early hours of the morning and can take you to your destination within minutes, much quicker than sitting in city traffic watching your taxi fare clock up. We made this mistake as soon as we set foot off the aeroplane. 60 euros for a 20 minute drive? Not ideal, I can assure you.
Although we were only in the city for 72 hours, we crammed as much in as physically possible. Upon arrival it seemed only fitting to visit the cathedral as it was so close to where we are staying. Whether you’re planning on staying for evening mass or just having a look around, the world famous Notre Dame is just as breathtaking as you can imagine, and it’s free! Dinner and drinks at Little Italy geared us up for the night. Only a ten minute walk away from our hotel, the dishes aren’t pricey and are served within minutes of ordering. Moving onto Irish pub McBride’s is where we settled ourselves for the rest of the evening. Although the drinks are priced a bit higher at around 10 euros, the live entertainment and banter from other punters made up for the fright we got when paying the bill!
Saturday was possibly one of the busiest days of my life, and the best. Waking up relatively hung over wasn’t the best of starts but we had BIG plans for the rest of the day, starting off with The Big Bus Tour. It’s best to plan your bus tour journey before you arrive and to pick which stop you will be ‘hopping on’ at. We hopped on The Big Bus day tour outside Musee d’Orsay, at 29 euros it is a bit pricier than others but I think it is the best. Other stops where you can hop on and hop off included the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the Champs Elysees. Complementary headphones are given out upon your arrival and you can listen to the history of each stop in whatever language you choose. I don’t have to tell you to visit the Eiffel Tower, whether you wait in the lengthy queue to go up the tower or not, the landmark is one of a kind and the place to cram in as many photo opportunities as you can.
Our show of choice on this trip was the ‘On The Run’ tour by Beyonce and Jay-Z. While I accept that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, there are many other shows to see while you’re in town including The Moulin Rouge and Crazy Horse Cabaret. The Stade de France was the host of choice for Queen B and her man. Holding 100,000 people, its sheer magnitude is a memory that I will hold for a lifetime. I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to say I sat amongst 100,000 other people. The beer is served in a plastic cup at 9 euros a pop. Pricey as it is, nothing less is expected for a venue of this size. However upon returning to the bar with your used cup entitles you to beer at the discounted price of 7 euros.
Sunday was a more relaxed affair. If you get a chance to visit the Montparnasse tower the views from the top are extraordinary. At only 11,50 euros for students, the 360 degree panoramic views include the Eiffel Tower and every other landmark across the city centre that you can spot. This was a definite trip highlight and if you have time to take the Metro down I highly recommend you do it. The macarons served at the tower café are to die for.
We also visited the Louvre but didn’t have time to go inside. It’s home to world-famous paintings and sculptures including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. The city is littered with shops and tourist spots so we managed to cram in some souvenir shopping for our families, including an Eiffel Tower key ring for myself.
Our last night began on our hotel’s doorstep by having cocktails at Dogs café. Two for 10 euros? We would have been crazy to refuse! Dining at Ristorante Pasta PaPa is a must for any student visiting Paris. At 11 euros a dish, it would be an understatement to say you get your money’s worth. The pasta is practically served in a trough and one dish is more than enough for two. Ending our evening at Café Au Pere Tranquille was perfect. The café-by-day and bar-by-night is just outside the Notre Dame and was quiet enough for us to soak in everything we had achieved during our short stay. The vodkas are served with glow sticks and the mixer served in a separate jug, complete with a spoon for stirring. Very cute.
Shopping at Sephora before our flight home ended our trip. I couldn’t resist buying one of the beautiful eye palettes for myself and it serves as a constant reminder of my time in the city every day when I do my makeup.
Paris can only be described as the trip of a lifetime and there is no better time to visit the city than when you are a student. Without a care in the world. Just as Paris wants you to be. I dare you not to fall in love.