Sometimes, things happen for a reason. Other times, things happen and you wonder what the reason was.
Back in February my friend who lives in the USA was visiting and told us that she she would be attending a conference in Paris in October, and over a wine-fuelled dinner three of us agreed to go to meet her there and have a girls’ city break. So we booked flights a few weeks later.
In September, my friend’s October conference got postponed til February. We three still had our flights so we booked a triple room instead of a double and went on a girls’ city break to Paris, our friend in the US heartbroken that she missed the girlie trip. (Don’t worry about her readers, she’s the friend I had my New York Citybreak with, and she gets to go to the rescheduled conference this month, hence I am finally writing this post).
Due to childcare and international flights we had a short break planned, flying out early Thursday morning and back Saturday evening in time to give goodnight kisses.
There are many, many ways that you can enjoy 48 hours in Paris, you can choose to eat in fancy restaurants, or to spend every hour you can in a museum. You can stay only in Irish pubs, or visit the dozens of churches. You can go to the top of the Eiffel Tour and the Arc de Triomphe. We had a chat before we went and decided what the key things that we wanted to do were and took it from there.
I was chief tour guide by choice. Not just that I’m a control freak, I’d a slight advantage, when I was in college I spent almost eight months living in Paris, working just off the Champs Elysees in a small hotel. I had afternoons off every second week so I got to know the city really well, and I’ve a memory like an elephant so lots of that information stayed with me. We didn’t open a guidebook the entire time that we were there and only consulted a map to figure out which train to get once. In fact, we only got on public transport to get to and from the airport.
We flew Aer Lingus EI0522 departing Dublin at 9.40am arriving in CDG at 12.25pm (you lose an hour with the time difference). We brought only hand luggage and when we got off the plane we followed signs for RER Paris by Train. From where we landed we had to take a shuttle train but it was clearly signposted. When you arrive in the train terminal there are people in uniforms to help you buy your tickets from the automated machines, and even with good French we needed help figuring out how the machines work. We took RER B to St Michel Station. We bought return tickets, but they are actually 2 individual tickets so there’s no real advantage to doing this. Be careful about the magnetised strips on the tickets, two out of our three demagnetised and wouldn’t work on the way home.
We arrived in beautiful Place St Michel at around 2pm, exactly the time that our hotel said we could check in. We came out the subway station and were bathed in October sunshine as we turned around and took in the beauty of where we arrived. We walked about 200 metres to Rue St Jacques and found our hotel opposite St Severin church, about 100 metres from Notre Dame Cathedral.
On checking in the hotel said that there was a “technical problem” and my heart sank. However, the problem was that they had no triple room available and they offered us a single and a twin instead.
This turned out to be a very lucky break- our tiny single room with single bed ended up having a private roof terrace with a view of Notre Dame. We couldn’t believe it. Not to waste any time, we freshened up and went walking- over to Notre Dame first, two minutes’ walk from the hotel and down along the banks of the Seine. In Paris just looking around you is enchanting, beautiful buildings surround you.
We stopped for a croque monsieur (how terribly French) before wandering to St Germain and popping in and out of charming little shops, and marvelling at the soap, and the vegetables and the frenchness of it all. The chocolate shops were unbelievable, expensive but so tempting.
Then, we crashed. So we had a sit down and a cocktail to gather our thoughts.
We ate locally (in a place that I couldn’t recommend) and then our early starts caught up on us and after one more cocktail, (and then a shot in another café after a car tried to reverse over me at speed on a pedestrian crossing!) we headed back for an early night.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Hotel Henri IV on Rue Saint Jacques. It’s a small hotel so it’s website isn’t that impressive (lots of dodgy English typos) and the best rates that we found were on their own website. We booked a room only rate, there are plenty of cafés within steps to get coffee and pastries in the morning so it’s not worth the hotel breakfast. Parisian hotel rooms are small but these were beautifully designed, and I would definitely recommend this hotel for couples or families (although I’m not sure that they have family rooms)
* We paid for all flights and accommodation on our trip and weren’t asked to review