For some reason, London was making me really blue. I couldn’t pinpoint a reason, which made the feeling seem invalid and ridiculous, but the lowness stayed with me no matter how many books I read, walks I went on or people I let tell me about their problems. Having some time off and some money, I made an impulsive choice when a tiny advert for Eurostar popped up while I was editing some work. Within a matter of hours, two train tickets to Paris and a three day stay in a hotel on Rue Du Rivoli were booked and I was to leave from St. Pancras the next day.
To Paris. A city I have loved like an obsessive fan my whole life but never got to experience.
The train journey of two and a half hours flew by with beautiful scenery to enjoy and this month’s edition of Vogue to glance over and soon enough the train was speeding through the outskirts of Paris, the Eiffel Tower visible in the distance–not dissimilar to the Empire State Building upon arriving in New York. I was thrilled and terrified. Travelling alone is always a mixed bag, and what if this city I had dreamed up in my head was exactly that? A dream. One that might come crashing down upon learning that Paris is, in fact, a dirty and squalid and overrated place with no real joie du vivre.
I can safely say, not once did that fear come true.
I couldn’t get over how gorgeous the sunshine was upon arrival, as warmth and sun have been decidedly absent from London this year, and I spent the entire taxi journey from Gare Du Nore with my nose pressed up against the window. My cab driver was lovely, especially considering my French is merely decent. I got an A in Higher French, but that was six years ago. He was utterly charming and wouldn’t allow me to carry my tiny pink suitcase.
The hotel was affordable considering its fabulous location (a three minute walk from Notre Dame and the river) and so I wasn’t expecting great things. Just a bed and a bath. However, they’d booked me into a double superior with a balcony overlooking the street. Up on the fourth floor, the view was stunning and the room was spacious, clean and beautifully furnished. And if I could have ripped the bathroom free and brought it back to London, I would have.
I was almost sad that my sightseeing would keep me from this glorious little flat of sorts.
I must quickly say, before gushing about the sights, the waiters in every restaurant I visited (making sure never to go to the same place twice) were sensational. They asked questions, they checked and double-checked, one got on his knees to make sure that the table wasn’t wobbling, one brought complimentary bread and cheese and one stood holding an umbrella over my head for seven minutes in the pouring rain while I waited for a taxi to arrive. I can’t even begin to imagine where the ridiculous stereotype of rude French waiters has come from, as all of the men that served me were complete credits to their profession.
Visiting Notre Dame was incredible and emotional as it brought back vivid flashbacks of my childhood in Scotland when I would climb to the top of the climbing frame in the playground and belt “Out There” so loudly, it drew a crowd. Finding the Eiffel Tower was almost an accident, as I had been walking along the Seine and taken a turn to the left to find a map and suddenly there it was, tucked in between two houses.
Now, here I must disclose the one problem I had with Paris and it was only one. The catcalling. It was almost up there with New York, and far worse than London. There was only one specific episode that got a little worrying, the rest were merely shouts from cars, winks, kissing noises and the odd and poorly timed compliment. It added a few nettle stings to an otherwise beautiful garden.
Now, during the second day I did what I do best. I shopped. I found Dior and worked my way in from there, going up and down the world-famous Champs D’Elysees. I have always had a deep love of lingerie, specifically overbust corsets, garter belts and stockings and Parisian lingerie is certainly on my consumer bucket list. However, upon arrival at the boutique, my feet were starting to object to two days of walking in Manolo Blahniks. The ladies in the shop were, like the waiters, utterly fantastic–although I don’t think they’d survive Scotland as they seemed to think I was mad to be out in the sun with only a Vivienne Westwood dress and gloves on.
“Mademoiselle, etes-vous pas froid?”
“Non, mais mes pieds sont douloureux.”
I was grateful for their sympathy. Later, as one was lacing me in, the other came downstairs and laughed when she noticed my heels had been kicked off. As the only client in the shop, we became quite a picture. One girl cinching my waist while the other sat on a footstool and (very kindly) massaged the pain out of my feet, one at a time. I’m a girls’ girl, through and through, but this was a first.
I was sorry to leave them, but I needed two hours of downtime before heading off to dinner and the Moulin Rouge. The famous red mill is much smaller than Baz Luhrman would have you believe, but no less magical.
The above picture is nipple rouge. Very popular at the Moulin Rouge and The Crazy Horse, which has recently played host to the amazing burlesque legend Dita Von Teese.
There was just enough time on my final day to pick up some Chanel No 5 and enjoy the incredible view on my balcony one last time before heading back to Gare Du Nord to head home. It was silly how reluctant I was to leave, after a mere three days. But it was absolutely incredible.
There will be many more low points during my life in London (a city I still love deeply and am loyal to) and not all of those low points will be solved by improptu trips to amazing places, sadly. But the memory of this gorgeous city and the even more gorgeous people I met there will keep me going, certainly.
Along with the Rodarte dress I bought. But anyone who knows me knows that I couldn’t go to the city of Coco Chanel and leave without a designer dress.
I mean, please.