Paris | November 2016

Hello again,

So this year for my birthday, me and Cem went to Paris. For some people, a weekend away in Paris sounds like the most relaxed trip in the world. After all, what’s nicer than the thought of eating croissants for breakfast every day and milling around Parisian art galleries?

However, when me and Cem went to Paris, it wasn’t the smoothest of journeys.

Here’s what we got up to…

Saturday 26th November

For a start, we missed the Eurostar. We ended up running through Kings Cross even though check-in had already closed. Luckily we were able to get on the next train an hour later so the crisis was quickly resolved. I thought the journey would drag because I get really restless on trains but we played games and listened to music the whole way and just under 3 hours later, we were in Paris.

Our hotel was just under a 10 minute walk from the station which was really convenient. We found it easily which is good going for someone as bad with directions as I am. Luckily, Cem is a lot more map savvy than myself.

Our hotel room was lovely and the first thing I did was put the kettle on. I’m always one to take advantage of a free cup of tea. We spent the evening watching a French TV game show which was a lot funnier than it should have been seeing as we didn’t have any subtitles to go off. The show involved guessing who sang a song from a short clip that was played. We were very competitive seeing as we don’t know any French artists.

Sunday 27th November

Before we even got to Paris, we knew that we were going to walk everywhere. What’s the point in visiting a beautiful city and spending all of your time on the Metro?

We set off early after a big breakfast in search of the Eiffel Tower. The walk was supposed to take 1:15 but probably took a little longer because we kept stopping to look at things we found along the way.

After we walked past a lot expensive shops and restaurants, we eventually came to the Tuileries Garden, which was the home to a small Christmas market and a ferris wheel, which we named the Fake London Eye. In the picture it make the Eiffel Tower look really small, when in reality the ferris wheel is tiny.

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We walked along the Seine river and saw the National Assembly. This is where we crossed a bridge to get on the same side as the Eiffel Tower. We sort of abandoned our map at this point and just walked in the general direction of the tower.

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After a lot of walking and complaining about aching legs, we eventually made it to the Eiffel Tower. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t expect it to be as big at it is. The photos don’t really do it justice. It looked beautiful from every angle, especially when the sun was setting.

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We sat in front of it and had a rest before our big walk back. There was a small roller skating competition going on and they even stopped the traffic to let hundreds of people skate across the road. We didn’t stay for too long because it was getting cold and dark and we still had to walk back to the area we were staying in.

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Monday 28th November

We had to get up early so we could have breakfast and check out of our room. We ate a feast of bread, pain au chocolat, tea and orange juice and went on our way.

The first stop of the day was Canal Saint-Martin, which I’ve always wanted to visit. Conveniently, it was only a street or two away from our hotel so it wasn’t too laborious to locate or walk to. Although it was a freezing cold morning, it was still sunny all day.

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As if missing the train wasn’t dramatic enough, I’ll now tell you what happened at Sacré-Cœur – a building I couldn’t wait to visit. It took us about an hour to navigate through the streets of the more run-down side to Paris but eventually we found it. When we stood at the bottom I looked up at it and couldn’t quite comprehend how tall and beautiful it was, despite the area it was in. I couldn’t wait to walk to the top and see the view from the steps.

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There were two entrances right at the bottom where we were standing. There were three flights of steep stairs after that too. As we started walking it became blatantly obvious that we’d have to walk past a group of men – con men if you will – seeing as there was a group of them surrounding each entrance. These are the money-grabbers that people warn you about when you go to Paris.

There’s so much to this story that I don’t even know where to begin.

We start walking up the first flight of stairs with the full intention of walking straight past these men. Neither of us were interested in whatever tat they would try and sell us. There are many people like this in Paris but none quite as rude as the ones I’m telling you about.

As we walked past them, two of them took hold of mine and Cem’s hands and started talking to us. Separately.

They started wrapping colourful pieces of cotton around each of our thumbs that eventually made a bracelet, that they would eventually expect us to buy. They kept telling us that “London people are happy people”.

We explained to them that neither of us wanted to buy a bracelet but of course, they didn’t see that as an option. The man making mine starting speaking to me in French. He told me that I needed to open my purse and pay him. I told him that I wouldn’t pay for it but my boyfriend would, knowing that if I opened my purse in front of him he probably would’ve drained it. He started shouting at me to open my purse and to pay for myself. I told him I had no money so he would leave me alone. He was really aggressive and wouldn’t let go of my hand whilst he was shouting it, but turned me around so Cem couldn’t see what he was doing.

Once Cem did see what was going on, the men quickly decided that I didn’t need to pay for the pitifully ugly bracelet that he’d tied around my wrist. Funny that.

Cem paid 5 euros for both bracelets, which is a bargain seeing as the man who made mine would’ve emptied my purse if I opened it in front of him

I’m not going to lie to you. The way that man spoke to me shook me up. Both of us were angry so we decided we’d sit on a bench until we felt like walking up to Sacré-Cœur. We only sat down for a couple of minutes and then started walking up the hill.

If there’s still not enough drama in this weekend for you, here’s a little more…

We got to the top of Sacré-Cœur and looked at the amazing view of all of the buildings that fill the Parisian streets. Then, we walked towards the building with the intention of going inside. As we got closer, I went to open my bag ready for the security check.

My bag was no longer on my shoulder.

We both panicked. I actually couldn’t move. Cem ran down to the bench to see if I’d left it there – it wasn’t there. Did those men manage to take it off of me while we were arguing? Or, was I so shaken that I left it on the bench and someone took it?

I should probably tell you what was in the bag: both of our passports, my driving licence, my uni ID, my bank card, my perfume, my phone charger, Cem’s keys and my keys. Everything that we needed to leave the country in 6 hours was in that bag, as well as my whole life.

Cem rang the police and told them what happened. They said they were on their way. 20 minutes passed. No police turned up. Cem rang again. Apparently, we needed to walk to the nearest police station.

Before we did that, we walked to the top of Sacré-Cœur again to see if by some form of miracle, someone had handed it in to security. Outside the building were three police officers. We explained everything that had happened in the past 15 minutes and after some begging, they took us to the police station.

By this point, we fully expected to be staying in Paris for another night. We didn’t have time to find the embassy and get temporary passports in time for our 9:13pm train home.

We got to the police station and waiting for me on the front desk was my bag, with everything in it.

We were so lucky that someone was kind enough to bring it to the police station, which was actually quite a long way from Sacré-Cœur. If the wrong person found it they could’ve easily stolen all of our means of getting home and all of my money too.

We couldn’t thank the police enough for being so helpful.

Afterwards, the police officers very kindly dropped us off at the next place we wanted to visit: the wall of love. It’s essentially a wall of artwork that has “I love you” written hundreds of times in different languages. As you can see, Cem found the Turkish one…

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After the wall, we walked to a cafe so we could sit and have a coffee and leave behind the stress of the past couple of hours.

While we were sat down, I realised that two things were missing from my bag: my phone charger and my Gucci perfume. Although it’s annoying that I no longer have my favourite perfume and I had to pay 20 euros for a new phone charger, they could’ve taken a lot more from me. I’m actually glad that whoever handed my bag in to the police now smells wonderful and has a fully charged phone.

After all of that chaos, we decided to take a long evening walk to finish off our time in Paris. Although it was bitterly cold, it was worth seeing the Pyramid du Louvre and the Eiffel Tower light up at night.

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This is where our sight seeing came to an end. We found some dinner, collected our bag from our hotel, headed for the Eurostar and back to London we went…

Despite all the chaos that happened while we were out there, we had a really lovely time!

As always, thanks for reading.

I wanted to write a post like this so I can look back in years to come and read about all of the fun things I’ve done.

Ways you can reach me:

Bye for now,

Courteney x

83 thoughts on “Paris | November 2016

  1. I’ve always been worried about going to Paris because I would not do well with anyone touching me. I’d probably punch the guy while having a panic attack. You handle it so well. Having your purse missing WOW that would totally suck and that sucks your perfume and charger is gone but you got it back. What a crazy adventure! I love the photo of the wall of love. Hopefully if you go back you’ll have a better time.

    1. To be honest I can’t believe I handled it that well – I would usually cry in a situation like that haha. We still had a lovely weekend despite the couple of hours of madness we had on the last day though 🙂 thanks for reading and getting to the end! x

  2. What an adventurous, scary, beautiful, busy trip! I am so so glad that someone turned your purse in to the police, that had me on the edge of my seat. Your pictures are breathtaking, and I’m sure they do no justice to what is all looked like in person.

  3. Wow! What a story. I would have been freaking out if my bag went missing in a different country. You are very lucky someone was kind enough to return it. I hope to visit Paris someday and see the Eifel tower in person. Your photos of it are stunning!

  4. I have found that some of the best stories and adventuries don’t turn out exactly as we have planned! Sound like you still had fun despite the mishaps.. and now you’ve got a great story!!

  5. Paris is such a dream!! You handled the stressful times very well though! I so want to go, but since I can’t speak French it scares me that I wouldn’t be able to get around well.

    1. We found that in every restaurant or shop there was someone that spoke English so that made things a lot easier. It was a bit difficult asking people for directions because my French is ok but not fluent haha

  6. So we used to live in Germany so Paris was a short drive away. We had the same experience. It was SO stressful and not like I thought it would be. and we went twice!

  7. Aw!! I love this post even tho it makes me sad, my husband and I was planning on going to Paris for my birthday in January before our baby born but unfortunately I would be just 8 months .. so I won’t be able to fly ( so looking forward to awesome maternity photos )

    xoxo
    Sky
    venturewithsky.com

  8. I have never traveled out of Canada so this would be a trip I would LOVE to take! This looks like a lot of fun, and so much to see!

  9. I haven’t been to France since 1999 and I loved visiting back then. It would be a real treat to be able take my children to Paris to visit as a family. Your photos definitely inspire me to do so.

  10. Visiting Paris is probably #1 on my bucket list right now. I want to wait til my kids are older, of course, but I will make it there someday.

  11. Thank God someone returned your stuff! So weird that they took perfume and your phone charger though! You would think they would have taken the money!

  12. I’m glad that you still had a wonderful time even though you had such a bad experience with those men – how scary! My oldest daughter (8) has been talking about spending a month abroad in Paris. I would love to visit someday!

  13. Wow, looks like you had a wonderful time! I went one year in April, though it was very cold and snowed while we were there. I would love to visit again when it’s warmer!

  14. Wow what a stressful trip!! I’m so sorry all of those things happened to you. We were in Paris a few weeks ago, very close to the Sacré Coeur, and I know exactly which group of guys you’re talking about. They were definitely persistent… amazing that you got your purse back! Beautiful pictures!

  15. You look like you had an amazing time in Paris. Of course you had to see the Eiffel Tower but so happy you guys footed it and saw more of the city!

  16. I had a similar incident happen to me in Cuba. I went to use the restroom in a public place. There was no toilet paper and the toilets didn’t have lids! A lady outside the restroom rolled out a little bit of toilet paper and handed it to me. After I was done, she demanded that I pay her. When I explained that I didn’t have my purse, she basically demanded, in broken English, that I go get my purse and pay her. It was not a pleasant situation, so I know how you feel.

  17. That is so crazy, I’m sorry your birthday trip turned out like this. I’m glad you were able to still enjoy the city, I’d love to visit someday

  18. Wow! Your photos are beautiful! I am jealous – Paris is on my bucket list!

    Sounds like it was quite the trip! I once left my wallet beside a slot machine (with EVERYTHING in it as well) in the Dominican! 30 min later, I noticed what I had done – and it was still there!! I couldn’t believe it!

  19. Pingback: 2016 Highlights |

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