Halloween in Paris was not traditionally celebrated by me this year – unless you count the arrival of my mum and her friend Gill in the late hours of Wednesday evening as some form of trick or treat. It was definitely a treat of course! After a slight miscommunication involving my mum absently mindedly texting my English phone, I left The Gentleman bar in St. Michel early to retrieve my next lot of guests. Though my visitors were far from lost without their Parisian guide- they had already found the local bar, Le Gambetta, opposite my residence and had ordered a round whilst enjoying the live music. Even though the suitcases stowed away in the corner did look like a bit of a sight, we stayed for another drink before retreating over the road. I ended up chatting to some of the guys next up to play, and was told to come back if I want to discover some live French rock music. Before then I had not yet ventured to this quirky bar just a stone throw away from me, but I am definitely planning on popping in again sometime.
Not living the student lifestyle, my mum treated me to some of the best food I’ve had since arriving in Paris, so I am going to dedicate separate entries to the places that really got our mouths watering! After lunch in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés arrondissement, we did some window shopping in some very chic boutiques – most of which were a little bit out of our price range! Though I did nab myself a pair of gorgeous long tan leather boots in one of the many shoe shops grâce à Maman. As in Belgium, France seems to have so many more non-chain stores selling masses of different makes. (This never ends well for the bank balance of neither me nor my Mum, who has most definitely passed on her shopaholic gene to me!) After having been slightly side-tracked, we arrived at our next destination – the Tour Montparnasse 56 , an office skyscraper constructed in the early 1970s with the fastest lift in Europe and which offers a 360˚ panoramic view of Paris. Whilst not the most typical way to see the Parisian skyline for tourists, it is one of the best views of the city I’ve had so far. At 210m high, it towers above the Arc de Triomphe, however it does not compare to the La dame de fer herself at 324m. That being said, I had a remarkable view of Paris’s most famous attraction from the tower.
It was back to Montmartre yet again in the short space of a week, as my mum like me has a love for this little coin. One positive from going so much is that I know all the side streets and short cuts like the back of my hand now to avoid the hordes of tourists. We then went into the Sacré Cœur which was in the middle of performing an evening ceremony. This was really quite fascinating, though I couldn’t help but feel like I was intruding along with all the other tourists just passing through. After refuelling ourselves with our second crêpe of the day and some more wandering, we made our way to the Beaubourg quartier for happy hour and dinner. I have become rather fond of the bar/restaurant ChouChou here, which offers live French music and 5 euro cocktails with generous spirit levels during its so-called ‘happy hour(s)’. It was pretty entertaining to see the cocktails going straight to my mum and her friend’s heads, who tottered over rather tipsily to the restaurant (which just so happened to be round the corner!)
The main theme of Friday’s activities revolved around what my Mum and I like best – fashion. After a quick morning trip around Rue de Rivoli, we made our way to the famous Galeries Lafayette for its Autumn/Winter collection fashion show. This had been a chance find of mine whilst attempting to try getting hold of tickets for the Paris fashion show, which I then found out is near to impossible if you’re not famous, a designer, or just insanely rich. (Or just incredibly lucky – my friend Jen tried her luck and somehow got in last month!) My first experience of a French fashion show was immensely enjoyable and definitely only encouraged my clothes addiction! Whilst I am usually one who is totally against any acknowledgement of Christmas before December, I have to admit that seeing the store’s seasonal décor sparking away in all its grandeur was rather dazzling.
In complete contrast to our glamorous fashion-themed escapade, we left the shops behind and ventured further along the Boulevard Haussman to the equally impressive Église de la Madeleine. Designed as a temple to commemorate Napoleon’s army, its Neo-classical architecture is quite different to that of the great Notre Dame or the Sacré Cœur. We then promenaded right up to the top of the Champs Elysées and ended our tourist-filled day outside the Arc de Triomphe before heading back chez moi in the vingtième. My mum treated me to a luxurious supermarket shop including my favourite lu biscuits, as well as Spéculoos flavoured spread and yogurt (this is definitely becoming an obsession of mine!) before our final supper in a local restaurant just round the corner from mine. Having all my visitors has been amazing this past week, however it will be nice to return back to Parisian non-touristy life for a while. That said, Hôtel Paris always has its doors open, and is expecting an overnight booking tomorrow night!
ChouChou: 63 Rue Rambuteau 75004 Paris