We were set to depart from Manchester airport on the 0630 direct Air France to Paris Charles de Gaulle so we had to get up at 0330! Given I had only arrived in Southport at about 2130 the night before, and it was well past 2300 before we got to bed, we were a little sleepy.
Thankfully though, the check-in and the flight were problem free – no delays, no turbulence and Mum barely even noticed take off. Really, it was a dream flight for a first flight in 30 years…
We arrived about 0900 local time and collected our bags. Then we had to wait for a No2 Air France bus to take us into the city. Several appeared but either didn’t take any passengers or were full already. Eventually one turned up and we trundled down the Peripherique into the centre. We were dropped off at the Arc de Triomphe and from there, it was just a short walk to the hotel – it would have been even shorter if we had sussed out the short-cuts that we knew by the end of our stay.
We were staying at the Golden Tulip St Honore, on Rue Du Faubourg, just off Bvd Haussmann towards the Arc De Triomphe. We checked straight in but the room was not as it should have been: we had booked a suite, with sofa bed and kitchen and the room had neither (it had a separate sitting area, but only two armchairs and not the promised sofa). I queried this with the front desk but as they had no other suites available, we didn’t have much choice. The room was nice enough though: clean and a reasonable size.
We freshened up and went on our first wander. We had lunch at a random cafe on Av. Franklin D. Roosevelt – just ham and cheese baguettes, and drinks – it wasn’t great but cheap and certainly sufficient. After that, we walked down the rest of FDR to Rond Point des Champs Elysees. We window-licked down Av. Montaigne to Place de l’Alma, then took some pictures of the Tour Eiffel from there.
We walked along the bank of the Seine to Pont des Invalides and took more photos. Then we sat in a small garden area on the corner of the Champs Elysees and Av. Winston Churchill (near the Grand Palais, facing the Petit Palais). After a rest, we walked along Cours La Reine to Place de la Concorde; it was so hot by then that the fountains looked incredibly inviting but we resisted. We took some photos then took a short, unimpressed walk in the Jardin des Tuileries. After leaving there, we bought a phone card at a tabac but couldn’t work out how to use it…
We walked up to St Marie Madeleine and found a stamp shop (for Dad) and some lovely food shops, mmm, food… Mum got confused as to where we were – silly Mummy – seriously, is EVERYONE in my life directionally challenged? – so we stopped for a refreshment break at Les 3 Quartiers cafe.
Then came shops: starting at the basic C&A, then moving up to Au Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. We weren’t very impressed with all the designer stuff but Galleries Lafayette’s food hall, mmm!
We started to tire so headed back to the hotel along Bvd Haussmann. On the way back, I bought a silk scarf for E5, a cat paw print watch for E10 and two lots of cat strokes for E3. Sleeping cats on leads in city centres, awwww.
It was about 3/4 of a mile back to the hotel but it felt further considering we were tired, our feet more so and did I mention that it was 31C in the sunshine? No? Well, it was and in a pollution-y city, that is rather warm.
We crashed for a while then had showers and went out for dinner. We had passed a nice looking Italian place called Finzi just around the corner on Bvd Haussmann on the way back to the hotel so thought that was worth a try. It was a bit squishy to start with but the people to either side of us were close to finishing so we had more space later on. We were given brushcetta and a sundried tomato/roasted garlic chutney as an appetiser then shared mix salamurie including the lovely sweet ham I had discovered in Venice. For our main dishes, I had gnocchi with four cheese sauce (dream-a-rific) and Mum had risotto primavera – her first risotto but now she’s become a bit of a convert to the arborio. Both dishes were perhaps a bit stodgy for such a hot evening but absolutely delicious. After we had finished, we were neglected because a big party had come in but we didn’t mind as we were happy to sit for a while. The whole meal, included some bottled water, only cost E47 – which we thought was pretty good value for money given we were smack in the middle of an expensive city.
We went back to the hotel and crashed out – only 21 hours after we had got up!