Un Séjour à Paris - Vicky's guest post
Welcome to a series of guest posts designed to help you plan the ultimate short getaway to Paris! Whether it was a flying visit on a school trip or a romantic mini-break, most people who visit Paris are here for only a short time. I want to find out what they loved, where they visited, and what they'd do differently. It'll give future travellers the perfect snapshot of a jaunt to Paris, warts-and-all!
Today's guest blogger is Vicky.
She's a 24-year-old hobby photographer and avid traveller. She spent a year near Paris as an au pair a couple of years ago, and recently graduated from university with degrees in history and comparative literature. She's currently living in Vienna, Austria.
Tell me a few details about your trip to Paris...
I remember my first trip to Paris very vividly. It was back in 2011, a spontaneous three-day stay with my family. Although I was enamoured with the city's beauty, it all remained pretty distant. However, this changed a year later when I randomly decided to spend a whole year in France (because of my language skills I had actually been looking for au pair positions in either Italy or the UK, but life had different plans in store). When I arrived at my new home town, about an hour from Paris by train, I was 18, had recently finished high school and didn't understand much of the language apart from the daily basics and greetings. During the following year I learned the language and used to stay in the capital at least once a month with fellow au pair friends, met loads of people and made rich memories of all kinds that I hold very dear to this day. Over the course of the last couple of years, since moving back to Austria, university and everything inbetween I have returned to Paris twice. The first time in 2014 to visit a friend who studied there and the second in 2016 for the world cup (another very spontaneous one, seems like France and I have a spontaneous relationship altogether).
Which arrondissement did you stay in?
I can't remember the first hotel we stayed in, but it was nothing special, your average hotel chain, not too close to the center. Ever since then, I usually stayed in Montmartre (18th arrondissement), either at a friend's place or an airbnb apartment. I always loved it, the reachability, the surroundings... it feels like coming home every time.
Where's your favourite place to eat in Paris?
I'm afraid I can't answer that one. My visits have never been culinary ones and I don't really have memories regarding food. Next time I return, I'll test out all the vegan places (and visit far more bookstores than Shakespeare & Company!)
Where was your favourite place in Paris?
I was obsessed with thrift shops when I first visited, but it's been a while and I don't know if it's still that much of a thing or if those particular shops still exist. There were some on the rue de Rivoli and another pretty cute ones in Le Marais. I also adore the Jardin des Tuileries and the Quartier Latin.
What was your most-used French phrase while you were there?
Bonjour & bonne journée :)
What are your top tips for a first-time visitor to Paris?
Since I often stayed over the weekend, I found the Ticket Jeunes Week-End very useful, definitely check it out if you're under 26 and want to make the most of public transport in Paris and the Île-de-France. I also LOVED the free entry to most museums and attractions (including the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe platform, the entirety of Versailles and so much more) for EU citizens under 26. I wish we had that here in Austria!
What surprised you most about Paris?
The amount of homeless people in the metro stations! I've always felt like many people have this fairytale picture of Paris in their heads and it's all Ladurée and Champs-Élysées, but like any city, it's so much more than the façades, good and bad alike. I just found the disparity especially striking in Paris.
How has your trip to Paris influenced your creative process?
It mostly influenced and established my fashion sense! I know, the whole Parisian look is such a cliché, but strolling the streets and watching people a lot has really inspired me. There's just something effortless and natural about the way a lot of people dress here compared to other cities and I like to think I've taken a bit of it back with me and made it part of my own style.
Any other awesome things to add?
If you've got a few more days at your disposal, make sure to explore a bit of the surroundings by train. It can take a while to get there, but it's so worth it, and not overrun by tourists in the way the city center is. My favourites were Giverny (Monet's house and garden, gorgeous in autumn) and the Château de Fontainebleau.
Thanks so much to Vicky for being this week's guest blogger. Don't forget that you can see more of her work on Instagram.
I'm always on the lookout for Francophiles to contribute to the blog, so please do get in touch if you'd like to get involved!