I emerged from Gare du Nord, into the rain. The sky was grey. The pink blossom glow faded second by second as I walked to my hotel; umbrella resting on my shoulder, bounding over puddles, eyes on everything.
The Hoxton, Paris. Although not particularly welcoming in layout (you have to walk through the bar and sitting rooms to get to the reception area) it was, from all I could see, a most beautifully decorated hotel.
I didn’t see the restaurant. When I asked if I should book a table, the receptionist said, ‘You are on your own, you should eat in your room!’ At first I was slightly offended by this, but by the time I’d met my bed (which was super squishy and smelt like Play-Doh), I felt it was the right advice.
I put the tele on and ordered room service. I couldn’t work out why there was so much stabbing. It seems that in between me selecting La Vie en Rose and my cheese burger arriving, I accidently missed the bit where I started watching Zodiac.
In the morning I packed up my bag and readied myself for a day of exploring. No real plans, destination Eiffel Tower.
I must give a massive shout out to Sarah for lending me one of her amazing Riut Bags. It’s the most comfortable and versatile back pack I have ever carried. It’s a multi-pocketed genius thing. All the zips are hidden against your back for security, and in this new design the bag is convertible from an everyday bag to a full-on travel pack, with just a few clips and adjustments. No backache. I didn’t even feel like I was carrying a bag.
I walked to Le Louvre, via the gardens of the Royal Palace where pigeons posed amongst pink magnolia trees. At Le Louvre people queued to pose on small pillars and pretend to touch the pyramid top. It was fascinating to watch.
Through Tuileries Gardens where I found crows and starlings, and across the River Seine. Down passed Bourbon Palace (didn’t look like a biscuit, disappointed) and along Rue de l’Universite to the Eiffel Tower.
What a beautiful and remarkable feat of engineering. So many times you see a landmark in reality and it doesn’t match what you’ve seen in photos (Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid anyone?) but I really did like the Eiffel Tower.
I sat and watched people buying the little monkey-metal towers that men were jingling on big wire rings, like bunches of keys chiming together. Occasionally a tiny tower would drop off into the dirt and be pecked by a pigeon or hidden by someone’s shoe.
It was quite muddy at the Eiffel Tower, people short-cutting across what was once grass, multiple children falling face first whilst parents posed for selfies.
The weather had been forecast as light rain, there were a couple of light ‘mistings’ (not worthy of being called showers) but other than that it was a cool crisp day, perfect for exploring.
I took the long walk back along Rue Pierre Charron and the Champs Elysees, window shopping and car spotting.
22.2 Kilometres. Not one cat.
People kept asking me for directions in bad French. I’ve been mistaken for Indian, Pakistani, Latvian and Irish before, but never French.
One man even stopped to ask (in French) where my bag was from, and once I’d ascertained that he wasn’t a mugger (and remembered that I was carrying a bag!) I told him. He said it looked Parisian.
I spoke French to people. I ate a baguette.
I got the RER to Charles de Gaulle airport. There was a rainbow coming out of the rear of an Easyjet plane (maybe that explains the delays). I sat and drank Orangina next to a family who were eating beef crisps.
On the night flight home I tuned in to a conversation between the flight attendant and a French passenger. ‘Anything from the trolley?’ asked the attendant. ‘L’eau’ said the man. ‘Sorry, I don’t speak French,’ she said and carried on, wheeling her way into every elbow and knee in her path.
The Hoxton Paris 30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 Paris, France
I was a guest of The Hoxton Paris and my stay was complimentary. As always, my opinions are my own.