We wanted a last minute New Year adventure, New York was obviously too expensive booking 2 weeks before we wanted to go, so we chose the sensible option of going over the pond to Paris.
We travelled using Eurostar Snap – you get cheaper tickets using this service as the travel times you chose are flexible. You decide whether you want to travel in the morning or afternoon and then 48 hours before you travel you will receive an email with your travel times. Even though Ebbsfleet is my nearest Eurostar station, in order to use this service we had to travel from St Pancras International London which was a little inconvenient but it only takes about 20 minutes on the High Speed service so wasn’t that bad.
Travelling from St Prancras was really easy and took just over 2hours to reach Gare du Nord station, where we got an Uber to our hotel, a Jaguar!
As we booked our stay last minute, especially at such a busy time of the year, hotel choices were very limited especially as we wanted value for money. We were so lucky to find a hotel, which was clean and a 20 minute walk from the Arc De Triomphe and Champs-Élysées (the 5th Avenue of Paris). Hotel Gaston is a small boutique style hotel which was really pleasant to stay at and we were lucky enough to get a bath in our room which was nice for a spot of relaxation after hours of shopping and exploring. We were also given a room with a view of the street which was really nice as the area was quiet and it was nice to feel the morning breeze when we opened the balcony doors. The only downfall of this hotel, which I have experienced in many European hotels, is that there wasn’t a kettle, fridge or iron in our room (I was told in Rome that their insurance doesn’t cover them having these appliances in the rooms) but we were able to get tea from reception in the evenings, even though I don’t think they actually offer this as a service – they must have felt so sorry for us after seeing how cold we were coming in each evening!
To get around Paris we bought a stif train/underground pass which cost 27 Euros each (and a 5 Euro one off fee for the card) which lasts for 10 years which is really handy if we decide to go back as we can just top up the card, like an Oyster card in London. It just made travelling and getting around the city really enjoyable as we didn’t have to worry about buying tickets at each station. I’d have to say the train system in Paris was really easy to use with frequent trains all day and the system is just as simple to use as the London Underground.
A Few Places We Ate At
Being vegetarian we had to be selective about where we could eat, that being said I was really surprised that there were quite a few vegan options in Paris.
- Vapianos – we obviously had to visit our favourite eatery but unfortunately we were quite disappointed with the food and especially the service at the Champs-Élysées branch. However we did manage to find the best branch in Bercy, the food and service was absolutely amazing.
- Eastside Burgers – this was the first vegetarian restaurant we discovered in Paris, which is situated in Bastille. The food was made really quickly and actually tasted good, we got burgers, hotdogs and fries. The only downside is the lack of seating but the staff try their best for you to be able to sit at a table to enjoy your meal.
- Cafe Pinson – unfortunately we arrived too late for dinner so only managed to get a dessert to take away with us – apple crumble which was delicious. The menu changes frequently but looked interesting and I would loved to have had the opportunity to have a meal there, guess I’ll have to make it a priority next time I visit Paris. The area has Shoreditch / Hoxton vibes, really chilled.
- Hank – this was my absolute favourite place to eat in Paris, just writing about it is making my mouth water! This is a vegan restaurant but don’t let that put you off if you’re a meat eater, the food is seriously delicious and filling, I promise you! Again seating is bit of an issue here too because so many people go there, in large groups as well as couples. The vibe is really laid back and chilled out too. We were also given vouchers for free pizza at their other restaurant which is around the corner from the burger restaurant and oh my gosh the pizza is to die for, I’m not even joking!
A Few Shopping Areas
- Champs-Élysées – this was a nice tourist area to visit as it was close to our hotel and was still very festive. This is where all the high end shops are and restaurants as well as things such as Winter Wonderland like we have in Hyde Park in London. Laduree is on this street, Vapianos (the not so good one) is off one of the side roads.
- Bastille – this was the area we went back to a few times and really enjoyed the vibe around there, it was a bit like Oxford Circus. The shops around there are really cool too, we spent quite a bit of time and money in Hema (stationary geeks), Lush, Adidas and all the other mainstream stores are in this area. And there’s an amazing shop near Hema which does the best baguettes!
A Few Other Things We Did
- Big Bus Tour – this was a good tour company to use, we saw all the main tourist attractions.
- Disneyland – when is Paris you’ve just got to go haven’t you, no matter what your age! I’d recommend visiting when the weather is warmer as it would be more enjoyable.
- Diptyque – this was on my list of shops to visit, we didn’t manage to go to the flagship store but the one near the Louvre is really good and the staff are really knowledgable and helpful.