Parisian Escape


Paris, best known and romanticised for its awe-inspiring art galleries, tasty cuisines and its renown fashion houses and haute couture. Oh, and the 300m iron structure best known as the Eiffel Tower. The city that millions lust over and I was lucky enough to spend the third weekend into 2017 enjoying all Paris has to offer, basking in the many French traditions I so long to adapt to my everyday life. A last minute trip - as in two days before departure last minute; that cost me an arm and a leg (those limbs being my student loan) but also made me remember exactly why I fell in love with the city in the first place. 
The main purpose of our trip was because Men's Fashion Week was currently in its last quarter and was being held in Paris. I travelled to France with three other people; two being actors and the other a model and social media influencer. They had shows to attend, namely Balmain and Lanvin so it was the perfect time to go.

Arriving in Paris wasn't as glamorous as the fashion industry would have you believe. A low budget airline filled to the brim with screaming children and loud groups of friends is enough to have anyone booking a first class ticket the next time they decide to depart their hometown - no matter how enticing the gasp-worthy low prices on Easy Jet may be. In addition to the no legroom and turbulence-ridden flight, the Charles de Gaulle train station (which is connected to the airport) was quickly evacuated due to a suspicious unattended bag. Meaning my journey to Rue Des Tournelles was delayed even more. 3 hours more. So by the time I actually arrived at Restaurant L'ange, it was 22:30 pm and I'd been travelling since 7:30 am - I repeat, never again am I travelling cheap; I could have been in Paris within 3 hours, instead, it took me over 15 hours. 

Despite a few minor hiccups and delays, I was so happy to finally be with friends and be able to start enjoying all the city has to offer. Restaurant L'ange was our first stop, a beautiful but tiny French bistro restaurant sandwiched between Le Marais and Roquette, minutes from Bastille Metro station. It offered a cosy and relaxed atmosphere with soft jazz playing in the background and an open kitchen in which you could view your food being cooked. I ordered a medium rare steak with salad and sauteed potatoes, accompanied by a peppercorn sauce and of course, all of it came cooked to perfection. We also consumed a large amount of red wine - something I was not massively keen on before this trip; but quickly grew to love. Considering the restaurant is rated an impeccable 5 stars on google, the prices were cheap. €20 for my meal, and €9 for any starters. Standard prices in the UK. 

Feeling full and satisfied with our meal, we headed back to our Air BnB rented apartment to drop off my bags and quickly headed out to a bar that had been recommended by a few friends who were already at the venue. This place was possibly everything that comes to mind when you think of a rock n roll meets fashion party. It was tiny and the walls were covered in graffiti. Not the artistic kind. The kind you find in a bathroom stall at a dingy club. I genuinely felt like I was standing in a cubicle that had a resident techno DJ hired to entertain you whilst you pee. I decided that I preferred it outside in the -2 degree weather, so I chain smoked until we quote unquote luckily decided to leave. We walked for half an hour to get to the next club which surprise surprise - was too full for any of us to get into. After standing around for 40 minutes, I'd started to believe that I was catching pneumonia or forming icicles on my body, so we left and went back home. Pretty much a pointless night, but nice nonetheless.

The next morning we walked to Marais to get some Brunch which made me realise that dining out and grabbing coffee with friends was very much a French thing to do. Nearly everywhere was full, but we managed to find a table in Cafe La Royale, a place that was the epitome of Parisian dining. I ordered some food with a cafe au lait, and people watched through the glass window whilst smoking with my hot drink. Everything about Paris feels 10x better than home. Even sitting getting a coffee. It feels Parisian. I know native French must be reading this and think I'm another tourist romanticising something they do on a day to day basis - but grabbing a coffee just isn't the same in London. It doesn't have that relaxing but chic element to it. You all know what I'm talking about. 

Paddy and Joanna had to meet with their stylist to get ready for the Balmain men's show so we ubered home and ushered the pair off to their driver who was taking them to their destination once they were dressed in Oliver Rousteing's latest creations. This gave me and my friend a chance to actually explore the city. Although I'd been to Paris before, it would be wasteful not to have a look around again. Our apartment was just opposite the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, home to the late Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and one of my favourite French singers, Edit Piaf. The graveyard was hauntingly beautiful. Heavenly even. We visited at around 4:30 pm, so the sun was setting; leaving the whole place lit up orange and yellow through the silhouettes of trees. Although it was eerily quiet, there was something so serene and relaxing about wandering through hundred of thousands of tombs and graves. Pere Lachaise is estimated to accommodate around 1million bodies in total, so the actual place is like a mini city. 

We made our way to the Pompidou centre and went to the very top and sat at the rooftop restaurant for around 4 hours. The view was too beautiful to let go of. We had a few glasses of wine, whilst sat under an outdoor heater and chatted, whilst taking in the prepossessing scenery. I couldn't help but think that London felt grey, dull and uninspiring compared to the Parisian skyline. We decided to take a scenic walk and stroll through the streets of Paris to get to Notre Dame. Unfortunately I didn't get to see the Eiffel Tower this time around, however, I did stare at it twinkling every hour whilst at Centre Pompidou. So I didn't feel too disappointed. We took ourselves back to the apartment and got ready for dinner. Underdressed was an understatement. I didn't know where exactly we were going, so jeans and trainers felt fine to me. However, after our driver pulling up at The Peninsula, a luxury 5-star hotel, I felt like I had made a bad fashion choice. 

The hotel was luxury like I had never seen it before. A Burberry store on the way to the bathroom? I could get used to this. Being steps away from Arc de Triomphe, and having chandeliers the size of a small horse in the foyer, the hotel clearly promises exquisite glamour in all aspects. We sat down for food, and I went with a simple caesar salad. I probably should have got something else, as it was the same price as the rest of the food but it did make up for it by being presented in the shape of a flower and giving me so much lettuce I think I turned into a rabbit. The most luxurious salad I had ever eaten. We enjoyed several bottles of wine before heading off to the Balmain after party, located at the new but already well-known and very trendy Le Pompon club. Luckily we had a table so it meant champagne was bottomless and free pouring was very much allowed. Typically I find fashion parties quite boring (in London, anyway). They end early and no one has fun. But this was actually really good. Thanks, Balmain. 

I had to pretty much go straight from the club to the airport to catch my flight, which was excruciatingly hard. I had had about 4 hours sleep in 48 hours and I was struggling to keep my eyes open, accompanied by the fact I had been drinking red wine and champagne the whole night. I fell asleep as soon as I got on the plane and woke up in London. I had a long journey ahead and couldn't think of anything worse but I carried on and got back to the city in which my university is and collapsed into bed. 

Did I have fun? Definitely. Was it worth me spending my student loan to be in Paris for one day? Probably not. Would I do it again? Absolutely yes. 

Paris is a city that will always be at the forefront of my heart. Maybe one day ill be brave enough to move there, but for now ill keep learning french on DuoLingo until I can fork out the money for a private tutor. 

Merci Pari, A binetot x

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