Paris | Gail's Interrail Adventure

17 March 2018


This is the next, and final, instalment of the Gail’s Interrail Adventure series, and this one is all about Paris. To be kept up to date on what I’ve been up to, click here for my couchsurfing experience, here for Toulouse, here for Menton/Monaco, here for Grenoble, here for Lyon and here for my Versaillesphotopost.

I arrived into Paris on Monday 12th February, from Lyon Gare Part Dieu, into Paris Gare de Lyon. Easy stations to remember. The travel and the metro were all really simple, and aside from a short powercut, or technical fault, or whatever it was that had happened while I was only a few metro stops away from the one I was travelling to, it all went smoothly.

But, I hated my hotel. Yes, I was staying at a hotel this time.

The hotel I booked was the Ibis Budget Gare de Nord 18ieme. The hotel itself was perfectly fine. It was a budget hotel, so everything was basic, as you’d expect it to be. The room was really nice, and the staff were all friendly and helpful. I just hated the location of it. The walk to and from the metro always made me feel really uneasy. It was just off a motorway (which made crossing a nightmare) and there were tonnes of police vans stationed there at night, with armed police patrolling around. Being British, I’m not used to seeing armed police, and so whenever I walk by them, I get really nervous, even though I know that I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s crazy, really.

I was staying in Paris for 3 nights. On the Tuesday, I visited the Chateau de Versailles, which I’ve already got a post up about, and after that I met up with my friend, Natasha, who moved to Paris almost a year ago! We went to a Vegan place that she knew, called Vegebowl, which was really nice.

On the Wednesday, it was Valentine’s day, and I thought it would be really funny if I went to the Eiffel Tower to watch all the couples getting engaged. I remembered Joanne’s mum saying that it was possible to walk along the Seine from the tower towards Notre Dame and see most of the major attractions, and so I decided that I would start from Notre Dame and walk towards the tower so that it would be later on that I arrived and I could find somewhere for dinner. It seemed like a good plan.

I got to Notre Dame easily enough and then I continued walking. I’d noticed that I’d started having the same problems that I’d been having in Lyon with there being constant construction work going on, which I thought was really weird because I was heading into Central Paris. Then I ended up at the Bastille, where suddenly everything made sense. I’d actually gotten lost again and walked the wrong way. Why haven't I learned from this yet?! I’d been walking for an hour and a half at this point. So, I used google maps and rerouted myself.

It didn’t take too long after that to reach the tower, and I could see it in the distance this time as I walked, which definitely reassured me. (Though, honestly the slow walkers didn’t help. All the shade.) When I finally arrived, I walked right around. There was more construction work going on, and there were too many people around asking ‘do you speak English?’ (which I already knew was a scam because it happened to my friend). But the queue was relatively short, and I really considered going up. In the end I chose food over the view, and I’m glad that I did. (I was so hungry.)

So, I wandered around and found a restaurant (that sold pizza, I’m so basic) and then allowed my phone to have a little charge up from my portable charger. The pizza was okay, but probably not worth it. And the 7€ dessert was definitely not worth it. I’d decided that I wanted to get snacks for the next day, because that was my travel day back to the UK, so I wandered until I found a Monoprix and bought from Nutella B-ready bars and some sweets, then headed to the metro.

Instead of taking the metro, however, I stood outside it, next to the river. The Eiffel tower twinkles every hour on the hour for 5 minutes. I stood for 30 minutes waiting to see it. I was freezing. Then I took the Metro to the hotel.

On the Thursday, I got myself showered and dressed, including makeup and then headed down for some breakfast. As I was packing my suitcase, after this, housekeeping knocked on my door. (It was 10am and I had a 12pm check out). Although I 100% understood the reason for doing this (because it was a 9 floor hotel and I was the 8th floor), I couldn’t help but feel like I was being rushed, so I packed as quickly as I could and then left my suitcase in storage before I headed to the Metro.

So. I’d been buying single tickets for each of my journey, because I found that that was a cheaper option for me. (Didn’t realise until too late that I could buy a book of ten.) So … I had until 9pm to waste. 13 hours. I bought a book of 10 metro tickets and my plan was to visit random places around Paris and just totally waste my day.

The first stop? Arc de Triomphe, where I was, yet again, greeted by ‘do you speak English?’. I blankly stared at the first person, but the second was resilient. I gave her scribbled and vague details but I didn’t have money for her ‘donation’ (which honestly was true.) She was annoyed that I didn’t even have one Euro. They could have been legit, but it just seems a bit odd that they’re only looking for English speakers for a French cause… Plus I had a really bad experience with a monk in my hometown when I was younger. I took a few selfies, trying to get the perfect one.

I had a wander down the Champs Elysees until I got bored (and it was pouring with rain) so back on the metro I went! This time, I decided to try and find the Paris branch of the company I work for. Which is probably the lamest thing I’ve ever done.

To cut a long story short, I got lost again. But when I finally got there, it was just really weird. Like, everthing was so familiar but so different. There were 4 members of staff, and I said ‘bonjour’ instead of ‘hi there!’. The desk was on the opposite side but I also felt like I could immediately begin my shift. It was so strange. I only walked in for around 2 minutes before heading back out again and heading to the metro. The next stop was a photo op with the Louvre pyramid.

I didn’t get lost this time. Bagged the photo. It was mid-afternoon at this point and I decided that it might be a good idea to try and find where my coach was due to depart from that night. So, it was off to Bercy!

The bus station was located in the middle of a really pretty park and it took me the longest time to find it, but once I did, it was so obvious. (It turns out that the description on the ticket was totally accurate, who’d have thunk it.) Then, I thought it might be a good idea to get some dinner, and headed back into Paris. I only had 20€ on me, which I don’t really recommend for a decent dinner in Paris, but I headed to Combronne where I found a restaurant with pizza advertised for 12€ on the outside menu. Perfect.

Except, once I got inside, and was seated at a table for one (literally), there was no pizza. So I opted for a pasta that didn’t have any meat mentioned in the description and prayed that it really was a meat free pasta. (It was.) It was 5pm when I finished. Rush hour. Now might be a good time to head back to my hotel.

Travelling there was simple enough, once again. I was surprised because I expected that it would be packed! In the end I arrived 2 hours before my coach was due to depart. So I sat down and waited.

My passport and my ticket were checked, and my coach had a socket for me to charge my phone. Everything was perfect. A few hours later I was at border security. Then a ferry. Then at 4.30am UK time, I was in London. (an hour and a half EARLIER than I expected.) My 5 hour wait had become a 7 hour wait. Then at 11.30am, I boarded my next coach to go and see Saph, and my French adventure was over.

I really loved being in France and I’d love to go back and visit both new places, and re-visit the places I ventured to. Though, I think if I return to Paris, I’d rather be with somebody because it was really lonely.)

I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts, and hope it’s made you feel like you were on this journey with me! I really enjoyed writing them, and I hope I can share it with the friends that I made and relive the memories with them, too! It all certainly was an incredible experience.

Where will I travel to next for Gail’s Excellent Adventure? I can’t wait to see!

Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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