I first went when I was 18 and a lovely boyfriend took me for my birthday. We just wandered the streets grinning and thrilled to be away, despite being on a tiny budget and not having much idea of where to go and what to do. But the significance of the place was huge: cosmopolitan, chic Paris, at an age where women’s magazines and Audrey Hepburn were my only style barometer.
Two weekends ago I returned with my sister on what turned out to be a brilliant whim: we booked on the Wednesday and only had two days to get hyped up before we were sitting on the (ahem, 8am) Eurostar, sipping rosé Moët and eating cheese and ham croissants.
Highlights of our trip:
– Getting lost in the Louvre. Despite getting there at 9am, it took us ages to get in and when we finally did, we were temporarily ejected by an emergency evacuation. After re-entering we realised we probably needed the audio guide to understand what anything was: cue a second exit and queuing process, and five Euros later we were enjoying the wisdom of the museum’s flashy Nintendo-powered guide. If by wisdom you mean being perpetually a few exhibits behind or ahead, in the style of Joey Tribbiani leading you the wrong way around a memorised exhibition. ‘You are now looking at the statue of an Egyptian prince (nope), with two snakes coiled around him (noooo) and the icon of the goddess Isis carved at his feet (nada).’
– Finding violet-flavoured slushies at a tiny bakery and sweet shop in Montmartre and retiring to the sloped lawns beneath the Sacré Coeur to eat them in the shade. Did I mention it was 30 degrees+ the whole time?
– A fantastic meal (steak frites perfection, coconut-creamy cod, strawberry and liquorice vacherin) at Alcazar in Saint-Germain, a restaurant with incredibly friendly – and, may I say, hot – waiters and a light, spacious dining room. We were also treated to the wonderfully surreal experience of drinking mojitos upstairs at the bar to a soundtrack of full-on, live Mariah Carey ballads.