Four years ago I met a lovely little Australian poppet when I was travelling in South America. Her name was Carolene. I instantly liked her because she turned up on a back packing tour with a good four suitcases and made no apology for that. So when she announced this year that she was heading on her first trip to Europe I could hardly pass at the opportunity to meet up ‘halfway’ in Paris. Tres bien. (Got a C in GCSE French-evidently). Yes I know it’s not halfway.
For many years Paris was my favourite city in the world, but I wasn’t so sure anymore after experiencing the delights of the likes of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bruges. And Leicester.
Booking the Eurostar was an enjoyable experience. Purely down to the fact my train ticket from London to Paris was cheaper than my ticket from Leicester to London. That is really uncool Trainline. They have a far superior buffet bar and they go underground. You should be adding a loop the loop and free iPad for what you charge.
A quick pitstop in St Pancras for lunch, a snooze and a passenger with unfortunate B.O. later, (who, by the way, proceeded to ‘have a cleansing wipe’ mid journey-yum) and BONJOUR PARIS! Sorry, I didn’t need to offer that visual up.
HOTEL DE JOBO
I am pretty fussy about hotels. Not in the way I need 5 star luxury (although that’s absolutely fine), but more that I love a hotel with a personality. No corporate, sterile nonsense please. This is why I ended up staying at a donkey retreat with a boxing ring in Marrakech. And why my poor Mother had to climb 6 flights of a dangerously narrow staircase in Amsterdam recently, because I insisted on a listed hotel by the canal, with a view.
Well I struck gold in Paris with this one! Hotel De Jobo is one of the most unique, charismatic hotels I’ve ever stayed in. I had never stayed in the Marais district in Paris before, so was very excited to explore. It didn’t disappoint. Whilst previous areas I’d stayed in, like the Opera district, are pretty astounding to look at in terms of the architecture, in comparison, they feel pretty touristy after here. Marais district feels more local, more Parisian, peppered with adorable boutique cafes, shops and vintage fairs. The hotel is located on a pretty little side street, just a few minutes walk from the Metro. And as my Aussie friend insisted, just a few doors down from a restaurant that serves gourmet frogs legs. Which we had to try fried and in garlic. They’re like rubbish chicken wings. Stringy. Pointless. Soz Kermit. Good news for you though so, you’re welcome.
Hotel De Jobo is a little like walking onto a film set. In a good way. Built on the remains of a 17th century convent and inspired by the seductress Josephine Bonaparte, the decor of the hotel is based around the rose. The eclectic and flamboyant style is reflected throughout the hotel, it’s a real treat for the eyes. It was certainly a good place to start as we had the Moulin Rouge booked. I basically pretended I was Satine all weekend.
We were trying not to be as excited as we were that there was a USB port right next to each side of the bed for our phones. Sadly these details are very exciting for us. It stood out. As did the powerful shower. I cannot abide a trickle. Down the super fun staircase to the exquisite lounge area. Oh lala! I actually heard someone say that by the way, which, is one of the main reasons to also visit Paris. If it happens near the Eiffel Tower you score extra points.
The hotel is situated down an idyllic, quiet Parisian street, just metres from one of the many squares in Marais, lined with cafes, restaurants and shops. The river Seine was just a ten minute walk and it was a lot less busy than the usual areas I’d been used to visiting it. I felt so local I started saying the ten French words I know with a pretty flamboyant accent. Please note, this really backfires when an actual conversation in French ensues. Impressed my Australian mate though. First time anyway.
As we began our first day of sight seeing, I decided to grab a quick coffee to take away. This is when I stumbled upon La Brasserie De L’Isle Saint Louis, my new favourite cafe in Paris. The man behind the bar was busy filling customers glasses with champagne. At mid day. It was like walking into a Parisian carry on film, bar the nudity. Such character. We were, of course, encouraged a drop but as we’d just set out we decided we’d pop back later. Squares. But we did pop back and then tucked into a delicious but rather lethal Irish coffee. Nowhere screamed Paris more than here, it was marvellous. Look at the machine my coffee descended from. I know very little about coffee machines but I’m hedging my bets that that’s a good one. It certainly embarrasses my Nespresso machine. Clooney would lose his mind. Plus we got a complimentary pastry. And if there’s one thing I love in life it is free sweet goods. I would come here daily if I lived in Paris. And I would be a big fat drunk. But a super happy one.
Few little shops around the Marais district. C’est bon.
My little Aussie pal had excitedly booked tickets to the Moulin Rouge. I had actually been before and it hadn’t been quite as expected but all the same happy to go again. I can only describe it as a cross between Butlins and Britains Got Talent. Except the women are topless. And donkeys feature. It made us laugh a LOT and we managed to acquire a free bottle of champagne so we still had a great time. But first I wanted to show Carolene Montmartre, one of my favourite parts of Paris. The cafe lined streets leading up towards Sacre Couer are gorgeous. Unfortunately the little square behind it at the top has been completely ruined. There’s now a Subway up there which is beyond depressing, but the surrounding streets still remain very pretty.
Post Moulin Rouge we stumbled upon live music, followed by a brilliantly cheesy, always reliable Irish bar (soaking up culture). By 3am, it was time for food. Kebab? Pizza? Or sit down meal, full course spaghetti bolognese in a restaurant/bar that was still going strong? Yes please. We even saw a woman walking around the streets topless. Probably just spilled out of the Moulin Rouge. Scuse the pun.
If you want a cool view of the city, drinks on the rooftop at Terrass are pretty spectacular. So much so we witnessed a proposal. Not convinced she was as excited about it as we were. But still, lovely view of Le Eiffel.
On the final day Carolene headed home early, so I went for a wonder in the sunshine, discovered an antique fair in the Marais area and had a perfect little lunch on the river Seine. It was really rather dreamy.
Paris, you are still my favourite city in the world!