You will have probably gathered from my enthusiastic tweeting this weekend that I have been blogging from the gorgeous city of Paris. It is a real understatement to say that I have had a fantastic time, because it was utterly amazing. Although I have visited Paris before on various school trips, the main focus of each visit prior to this one was Disneyland, so I’ve never actually explored the city, the globally renowned landmarks and (most importantly) the world famous shopping district of the Champs-Élysées.
I was lucky enough to be able to share the trip with the lovely Em Sheldon from emtalks.co.uk, who I previously met at the Cosmo Awards in 2012, and whose blog I read religiously. We are so similar in so many ways it’s crazy (and we have decided that we are long lost sisters – since we were asked whether we were related numerous times), and so I couldn’t have asked for a better blogger or friend to share the trip with!
On Saturday morning, I set off from my house at the godly hour of 7.45am (no, it’s not too bad, poor Em had to catch her train at 6am) and boarded the train to London St Pancras. Armed with my over packed luggage, I arrived in London 20 minutes later and met Em outside the Eurostar area in the station. As someone who had never before traveled by Eurostar, I was expecting it to be far more difficult than it actually was!
I normally hate travelling (the travel part, not the visiting new places/countries) because it’s so long and drawn out, there is so much queuing, waiting and lugging bags around, so I was dreading the Eurostar journey a little. However, I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was. You simply check in 30 minutes before departure time, go quickly through security (there’s no waiting around), wait in the gate for a short while (5-10 minutes in a nice seating area) before being called to board the train. As there are escalator belts, there is hardly any lugging your suitcases around, you are taken straight to the platform and board the train within a matter of minutes.
For our outbound journey, we were extremely lucky to have first class (or standard premier as it’s called) tickets, which were kindly given to us by Eurostar. I personally really enjoyed being seated in the more spacious standard premier cabin on the way out, as you are served a continental Parisian style breakfast on board (which was ideal, as we were both rushing to get out of the house and missed breakfast), and the cabin layout is a little less cramped, however on the way back – we were in the standard cabin, and we enjoyed this just as much too, so I don’t really have a preference.
I would recommend however, if you have small children or lots of luggage with you, first class is worth paying that little bit extra for, as the premier cabins are located right next to the flat escalator, whereas the standard cabins are right at the back, so when getting on/off the train, you have a fair way to walk. If you are aged between 12-25, you qualify for a youth fare, which is significantly lower in price than an adult ticket, so it’s definitely worth looking into! Returns to Paris start at around £69!
Once we arrived at the Gare Du Nord International (at around 12), after a lovely long chat about all things bloggy, we couldn’t wait to get to our hotel and begin exploring Paris. A little too eagerly, we decided to boycott the long taxi queue outside the station and walk to our hotel, which looking back, was a hilarious decision as our hotel was a 15 minute car journey away, and we had heavy luggage. After walking a fair way down the road and deciding this probably wasn’t the best option, we then joined the queue again and waited for a taxi.
A short taxi journey later, we arrived at our stunning hotel ‘Renaissance Arc De Triomphe‘, which honestly blew us away with it’s central location and gorgeous interior. We were initially unsure whether the taxi driver had taken us to the right place, however after checking in, we soon realized we were! The hotel itself impressed me so much, I want to write a separate post about it (see here), because there is so much to say and so many pictures to share. Rumor has it, Justin Bieber was staying at the hotel at the same time as us (we did wonder why there was always a large crowd of girls outside), so I can’t wait to share all the pictures with you!
After exploring the hotel a little, we stepped outside and headed to the famous Champs-Élysées, the ultimate shopping district of Paris. Just a short walk away (our hotel really was in the perfect location for exploring Paris), we reached the famous shopping street, with the gorgeous imposing Arc De Triomphe as the centerpiece, and spent the next few hours browsing what Paris really had to offer. Em had been eager to visit Sephora since we arrived, which if you haven’t heard of it, is basically a huge beauty, make-up and hair-care department store, with Mac, NARS, Benefit and Make-Up Forever Stalls. So, our first (and main) point of call, was the huge Sephora on the Champs-Élysées.
With stalls galore, it’s very easy to keep saying yes to the staff on hand, ready to try and test out all the new products on you (I’m awful at saying no to free make-overs and hair trials), however after an hour or two in the store, we left armed with a big Sephora bag filled with all of our purchases (I will do a Paris purchases haul post later this week).
After a quick stop for lunch (Paris involves so much walking, and so much to explore that you forget about eating – fine by me!), we headed up to the top of the Champs-Élysées to the beautiful (and even more beautiful up close) Arc De Triomphe. Em assured me that the view at the top was unbelievable, and so worth the climb, so we queued to get our tickets. It is worth noting, if you are a British or EU citizen, you only need to show your passport or drivers licence to get free tickets.
With a daunting 284 steps up, the climb to the middle level is not for the faint hearted. In fact, I thought I was going to have to stop and sit down halfway through (which proves how un-fit I really am) however, the view once you reach the top (another 64 steps) really is worth it! The best time to go is at dusk (around 5.30pm) where the Champs-Élysées is slowly starting to light up and the view of the surrounding Paris landscape is at its most beautiful!
As Paris really is at it’s most beautiful at night (no wonder it’s called the city of love), we decided to have dinner at the Eiffel Tower and so headed back to our hotel to get ready. Again, just short taxi ride later (it’s about eight euros), we arrived at the beautiful and probably, the most famous Parisian landmark. Although we were greeted by rain, it really is the most spectacular architecturally stunning building I’ve ever seen, and I snapped hundreds of pictures just standing at the base. As hunger was finally starting to hit us, we decided to find a restaurant to have dinner first, and to go up to the Eiffel Tower at it’s last sitting (11pm).
We both fancied Italian, and so the tiny (5 tables) ‘Pizza Et Pasta’ (I’m not trying to speak French badly here, this really was the name) restaurant that we found down one of the back streets suited us perfectly. We shared a bottle of wine, an anti-pasti starter and two pasta dishes, before being presented with two beautiful roses from the waiter (French men really are the most romantic – English boys take note).
Unfortunately, we left the restaurant a little too late, arriving at the Eiffel Tower at 11.05, therefore missing the last sitting. We filmed a rather wine fueled vlog at the bottom, before jumping in a taxi back to our hotel. With a gorgeous bar/restaurant waiting for us, we decided we would order a hot chocolate, get into our robes and slippers and Skype our friends back home to show them how amazing our hotel was! After a long day, we fell asleep with plans to wake up early.
The beds however, were so comfy, we ended up sleeping in a little and so after a gorgeous breakfast spread by the hotel, we finally left for our second day of adventures at around 11am. This turned out to be a great move actually, as most places don’t open until 12, so with a recommendation for the Marais shopping area, we jumped in a taxi (you can take the metro, as it’s cheaper, but the taxi ride was only 13 euros from the hotel).
With winding backstreets, filled with tiny gorgeous chocolate shops, french flower markets and vintage stores (selling denim levi shorts for 10 euros), the Marais is a great destination for all things shopping, and we can definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Paris wishing to explore via shops. It’s also really close to the Notre Dame and several of the gorgeous churches, so you could (as we did) fit in both within a short space of time.
After exploring the Champs Elysees one last time, we said our goodbyes (to the shops, not each other) and went back to the hotel to upload our Instagram pictures. As our train was at 4.34pm, we left for the Gare Du Nord International at around 3.30pm and arrived with plenty of time to check in. Again, our journey home was very easy and relaxed (so relaxed in fact, I don’t remember it because I was asleep most of the way), and our standard cabin, although a teeny bit more cramped, was just as lovely.
Overall, I had an utterly fabulous weekend in what I can officially confirm is the beauty shopping capital of the world. It was so lovely to experience Paris with another blogger, especially Em, as we got along so well – and literally, we didn’t stop talking the entire time. Em and I are hoping to make this a regular thing, and are already planning to visit a few other gorgeous cities of the world, so that we can report back on where is great to visit for other beauty and fashion lovers – so let us know if you enjoyed reading about it! I can’t wait to try out all of my new beauty purchases – and I look forward to our next ‘bloggers on tour trip’!
Bloggers Definition of Paris:
1. The perfect shopping destination for any fashion and beauty enthusiasts, mother and daughter shopping duos or beauty bloggers who want to experience the equivalent of make-up heaven.
Shopping Tips In Paris
– If you spot a Pharmacy whilst in Paris (or anywhere in France for that matter), don’t walk past it. Pharmacy’s in Paris are not like the ones here, instead – they are secret gems for hunting out beauty bargains and finding gorgeous Parisian beauty brands (like Caudalie, Bioderma and La Roche-Posay) at far lower prices than you will over here. We went in every Pharmacy we saw, and found an amazing one near our hotel which seemed to be much lower in price than the rest. I actually spent more in this Pharmacy than I did in Sephora! They are worth popping into for some beauty bargains!
– Some great french beauty brands to try are La Roche-Posay (these are great for dehydrated/skin sky), Caudalie (a very luxurious beauty brand, really hydrating), Bioderm (lovely cleansers and toners), Sephora (they do their own make-up and beauty range, their body washes and candles are amazing), Eau Thermale Avene (their Eau Thermale spray is great for irritated or sensitive skin) and Make-Up Forever (this is very hard to find in the UK, the HD Foundation is the one Kim Kardashian uses), Yves Rocher (basically the French equivalent of The Body Shop, but better).
– If you are in Paris just for the weekend (like us), the Champs Elysees and the Marais area (near the Notre-Dame) are the two best places for shopping. The Champs-Élysées (predictably) is expensive, busy and filled with designer shops, but it is a must-see for any girlie (or bloggers) weekend shopping trip. The Marais area is much smaller, with lots of winding back streets, and cute kitsch shops selling macaroons, beads, chocolates and vintage wear, however it is definitely worth a visit! You are more likely to find yourself a few bargains hunting around the Marais area, but please be aware – many shops are shut on a Sunday (or they open at 12) so if you can fit in all of your shopping on the Saturday, this is ideal!
– Again, if you are in Paris for the weekend, or for a few short days, picking a centrally located hotel is an absolute must. I’m not sure what we would have done if we didn’t have just a great location for our base, especially with such helpful and knowledgeable staff who are more than happy to recommend areas to visit depending on what you want! You can afford to be a little further out if you know your way around Paris a little more, or if you are going for one-two weeks, however if it’s just a girlie weekend break you’re after, picking a central hotel (I can definitely recommend ours – Renaissance Arc De Triomphe) is an absolute must.
– Don’t parade around in your most fancy heeled shoes. Although it’s not a bad thing (all the more shopping), the Champs-Élysées and the Marais area are very spread out, in fact, they go on for miles. Whilst it’s amazing that there are so many shops to browse and explore, your feet will start to hurt, so wear some (dare I say it) sensible or at least, comfortable shoes. Don’t let hundreds of blisters ruin your shopping trip!
** I would really like to thank, on behalf of myself and Em, the fantastic staff and team at the Renaissance Arc De Triomphe Hotel (post coming soon), as well as Emma, who kindly organised our accommodation there. We couldn’t have imagined a better stay. Also, thank you to Eurostar, who kindly provided our tickets for travelling to and from Paris. The journey is so simple, I am a converted travel lover – and I am definitely going to be using Eurostar a lot more for my journeys! It’s so much easier than by plane!