Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New Year in Paris 2014 (Part 1)

Hello and Happy New Year 2014!!!

So as stated in the title, I spent New Years in Paris this year-my first time abroad celebrating new year so hopefully this year will be full of many firsts! Although I've been to Paris before and have seen the sights, I didn't get a chance to go to the top of the Eiffel tower. This time that was top of my list and I also wanted to take in the sights and sounds a bit more. Anyone who has already been sightseeing in Paris to the various landmarks will know how ridiculous the queues are though-it's actually enough to put you off. Especially when you're dealing with drizzly cold weather as I was-it doesn't put you in the best mood. So I did a bit of investigating and cracked a few ways to beat the queues. In part 1 I will tell you about my pursuit for the perfect venue to spend my New Years Eve, and in part 2 which will the next blog post, I'm going to share the information they don't tell you at the Louvre, or the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, about how to get inside QUICKLY. Also, being a veggie, I was determined to have a better time of it this time than I had last time in Paris, when I had to mainly rely on Italian and fast food chains. All that and more...

Queues for Metro tickets

I arrived in Paris by Eurostar on December 31st-one of the craziest times of year. I'm starting this blog post from there because there's something I have to share with you to ensure you get off to a good start. When you arrive at 'Gare Du Nord', you may decide, like I did, that buying a travelcard and getting on the metro to get to your hotel is the best bet. I decided on this mode of transport because I had very small luggage and I knew that I would probably be jumping on the metro again later that evening in the pursuit of somewhere to spend my New Years Eve. Also, my hotel was not far, and very short walking distance from the metro station I would get off at. Paris, like London, is very easy to get around by train. When you go into the ticket hall of the Metro, you will find a HUMUNGOUS queue for the information desk, and the self service ticket machines. As in ridiculous. I took one look at this and thought about our stations in London. In big stations people (especially tourists) will flock to the nearest ticket machines when in actual fact, there are usually lots of self service ticket machines dotted around the station. With this in mind, I walked down closer to where the actual trains were where we would be getting on, and of course, there were lots of EMPTY self service ticket machines. So bear this in mind when you get off at Gare Du Nord-don't go to the line that all of your fellow passengers from the Eurostar have just joined-take a walk. 

Where Shall I Spend My New Years Eve?

My cousin Kiran joined me on this Paris trip. We had decided that we wanted a very specific evening. Paris does not do fireworks at New Year. This is a popular misconception, due to the fact that they did them for the Millenium, but actually, that was the last New Years Eve that they did them for. Knowing this, we had set our sights on spending our New Years in a warm, indoor setting, with candles, preferably a log fire, and great food. That may sound ridiculously specific, but, that was the vibe we had in mind and set our hearts on. So after throwing our belongings down and getting freshened up, we headed out on our mission. At this point it was only about 4pm though, so we had a load of time to kill. So we decided to walk around Paris as much as possible until our feet fell off. We headed over to the area where Sacre Coeur is and had a look at this beautiful landmark from outside. As we carried on walking along the main street (which reminded me a bit of Soho in London) we ended up outside the world famous Moulin Rouge. They were charging 700 Euro's to watch a New Years Eve show and have dinner-what a bargain!....:-) We decided to take some snaps and then move on.

We got on the metro and got off at Arc De Triomphe which has a metro station right outside it. From here you can take a lovely walk down the Champs Elysees which was beautifully lit up at this time of year with Xmas lights. I've done this walk before but I did it a few more times on this trip because this road is long and lined with restaurants and shops with lots of bustling activity-the vibe is kind of like Oxford Street just because of how many people congregate here to shop and eat. So we walked  down to the Eiffel tower from the top of the Champs Elysees which is about a mile and a half. Like London, everything is within easy reach and I would really encourage you to walk everywhere because you get to see things you wouldn't have otherwise come across. For example, we passed some pretty German style markets on the way that made us feel extra festive. By the time we got down to the Eiffel Tower we decide to grab a hot chocolate as it was pretty cold out.  I paid about 10 Euro's for my tiny hot chocolate which is pretty horrendous but there's not much choice when you're buying from a cafe right outside the Eiffel Tower on New Years Eve!

At this point time was getting on, and we hadn't spotted anywhere that we wanted to spend our evening. We decided to head back to our hotel in Montparnasse as we had noticed some restaurants on the way out. As we walked around Montparnasse, suddenly we spotted a little gem in amongst the restaurants. We looked in and it looked warm, was completely candlelit, and I could hear All Night Long by The Mary Jane Girls playing, a song which, though released before I was born, is close to my heart. SOLD!

We spent the rest of our New Years Eve eating Bread and cheese (I can't comment on the rest of the menu as I only ate bread and cheese) drinking wine, and having a singalong with the friendly waiters who had excellent taste in music :-)

In my next blog post I'll be talking about the rest of my trip-tips and tricks about how to beat those queues into the Louvre and to the top of the Eiffel Tower, information you NEED to know for your trip to Paris!

Until then, 

Anita xxx