After a stressful few months, we were feeling very frazzled and knew it was time to escape London for a day or two. After the excitement of Christmas and my 24th birthday had fizzled out, I was looking for something to work towards, a little break to help me plough through the long, dreary days at work.
So we packed our bags and went to Paris.
Paris is the last place visited, which was only in October, and I wouldn’t usually be in such a rush to return. I like to try new places and sometimes feel like I am doing myself a disservice if I visit the same place twice over the course of a couple of years, let alone a couple of months (my double visit to Turkey in 2014 still plays on my mind when I tick locations off my travel bucket list). However, despite it only being a mere 4 months ago, our previous trip to Paris felt like an entire life time go. The cold weather had sucked all the life out of me and I felt like an empty, more haggard version of myself. In October I walked around in my t shirt and ripped jeans, and resented the fact I had even brought a jacket as it meant I had to carry it EVERYWHERE. By contrast, the last few months in London I was lucky if I left the house without a thick jumper, woolly coat and my beloved scarf.
Despite the two trips being relatively close together in time, they could not be anymore different in terms of content. Last time I wanted to see everything and my alarm was eagerly set for 8am every morning. Our late afternoon flight on the first day meant that we were pressed against a time limit and I was keen not to miss a single thing on my to-do list. We climbed the Eiffel, admired the view from Sacre Coeur and wandered around the Norte Dame, all whilst finding the time to drink a glass of wine at every given opportunity and bask in the last bit of sun we knew we would see for a while. Our hotel was hidden in a back street in the 15th arrondissement, and although our little street was quiet, we were no more than 2 minutes away from tourist central.
This time we opted for an Ibis in Montmarte, which was modest in terms of location and price but turned out to be a real hidden gem. Montmarte is away from the main hustle and bustle and it felt a lot less touristy than where we had previously stayed. As we wandered around the streets, with no haste to do anything in particular, I felt a sense of calm and took the time to enjoy being somewhere different than home. Each day we had a vague idea of places we could mosey to, but chilly wind or a busy Metro would blow our day onto a different track. We didn’t feel the need to hurry around, and I felt no guilt in going back to the room in the afternoon for a catnap.
We still visited some of our old favourites. We climbed what felt like 1,000 steps (which in reality was more like 50) so we can soak up the view of Paris from Sacre Coeur, all whilst dodging groups of men trying to sell us shit key rings. We dedicated a whole afternoon to walk from Trocadéro to Champ de Mars, breaking for hot chocolate pitstops to keep our bones warm. I got to climb the Arc de Triomphe for the first time and took some photos on my camera. The whole trip was utter bliss.
It’s nice to take some time out to visit a different city and not feel obliged to do everything. Not every moment of the day needs to be crammed with an activity,and you don’t need to see every inch of a place before you can say you truly know it. I feel like I saw more of the ‘real’ Paris this time around, because we took some time to just enjoy it.