Sometimes you just need to get away. The stress of work, the routine of the day, the annoyance of people. You just need a change in scenery…a bit of ME time. It was a bit spur of the moment, and for once I didn’t plan each minute of the day, but I had a few things that I needed to do (e.g. shopping). While I could easily take a bus down to Oxford Street to get what I needed, I didn’t want to peruse the familiar overly crowded and overpriced stalls, I needed something where I felt like I was doing something different and having a bit of an adventure without going too far from home. I also didn’t want to break the bank travelling, as I needed the money for my shopping
So I packed up a small bag, hit up some of friends who lived in France and took the Eurostar to Paris for a weekend.
It was perfect timing. It was the last weekend in November, which marked the beginning of Beaujolais Nouveau (translation: New Wine), so not only did I get in some great shopping but I got to experience a French tradition as well as meet up with some American friends for Thanksgiving dinner and college football. Perfect, right? It truly was. Below is my summarized itinerary with some links to places I think are worth checking out. Enjoy!
- Purchase some local cheese and Beaujolais Nouveau and parked myself with friends and enjoyed copious amou nts of vin de primeur.
- Checked into my hotel (~^~ Hotel Recommendation: Westin Paris - Vendôme- central location (i.e. near Champs-Elysées, only a couple of subway stops to Eiffel Tower, good service, and great bar with music on weekend)
- ~^~ For those Americans looking for a place to get traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Le Grand Carnot Cafe or Joe Allen (check menu and space availability before going)
- Walk Champs-Elysées in the morning via Jardin des Tuileries and make your way through the Christmas Market. Stop for Vin Chaud at a vendor and a crepe to start the morning off right.
- Visit the many shops of Champs-Elysées (Note: Black Friday has made its way to France. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but definitely some good deals)For a restful lunch, try nearby local cuisine of mussels, crepes, clams, duck, and wine (~^~ Affordable lunch w/ WIFI @ Le Royal)
- ~^~ Favorite store(s) of mine, that are specific to France: Morgan (great woman clothing); Promod (women’s and men’s fashion)
- Want more shopping? Visit Galerias Lafayette. Its a 15-20 min walk from Jardin des Tuileries, and is one of those malls with spiral shops, that could make you go dizzy, but is definitely a one stop shop!
- Now that you have your pick me-up, head to the Canal Saint Martin for more boutique shopping and beautiful classic/old Paris views on the canal and bridges. (~^~ While not traditional French bar, sometimes you need a cold pint of Guinness and a English speaking staff- try out: Cork and Cavan)
- ~^~ Once again for those who enjoy College football, stop by the Frog and Princes (as well as their other sister bars) to enjoy some good helmet crashing in the 6th district, along with various beers on tap and traditional pub grub:-)
- Before catching your train, take a nice walk towards the Gare du Nord (Eurostar). It’s a long walk depending on where in the city you are, but there is loads to see along the way.
- Stop and do some of the only shopping you can do on a Sunday: Marais or Montemarte.As you walk along Rue Saint-Martin, don’t forget to look at the various churches, and boutique shops. Some of my greatest finds were on this walk to the train.
- Brunch in Marias at: Chinon (6th district). The salmon over eggs was amazing, and can’t really beat the fresh bread and butter! I highly recommend sitting outside no matter the weather (they have heaters).
Overall damage? Eurostar+ Hotel (£0 used points) + Eating/Drinking = £133. If you are on a budget here are some tips on how to have a successful shopping weekend in Paris, like this one or even better:
- Look at Eurostar trains at least 30 days in advance, and be flexible with dates and/or times
- If you do not belong to a hotel loyalty programme, sign-up now. Many times miles can convert into hotel points and vice versa. There are not only reputable hotels in Paris but tons of B&B, hostels, etc that make a trip to Paris affordable and convenient
- Walk as much as possible, you will see more sights, get good exercise in and save money by not using the metro!
- If you plan on taking the metro, buy a book of single journeys. These can usually be used for later trips if you don’t use at the time. This is also a sneaky way to limit how many subways you take and force you to walk more. But calculate carefully.
- The portions in France are large, so share your meals if you can and look for special deals on the menu. Or eat as the French do: have lots of coffee, drink wine at dinner and eat seafood as a late night dinner
- While I know its an attraction of Paris, try shopping off the Champs Elysee, and visit some boutiques in lesser known areas. You are more likely to find more affordable items which are also unique.
Interested in trips like this? Or want me to help you plan a trip on a budget? Contact me!