I have a hunch that the stamps in my passport have contributed most of my insights, and prompted most of my questions.
I had a chatty taxi driver from Brighton rail station. “Where have you come from then?” “Paris.” “Ah, a romantic weekend with your boyfriend?” No. No sir it was not a romantic weekend in Paris.
I know there is a rule about Paris and weekends and who you go with. But you know what I do with rules? SMASH THEM! (That’s not true).
I was in Paris with friends, we shared a hotel room, drank red wine, ate cheese and experienced that obligatory low blood sugar/sore feet hour. I even got locked in the hotel bathroom momentarily. It was all very Weekend Away-esque. It just wasn’t Romantic.
Oh but Mr. Taxi Driver I have tried, believe me. Allow me to tell you the closest I got to a romantic weekend in Paris. I was at my boyfriend’s. “Let’s book a weekend in Paris” said I.
For some reason Friedrich’s (names have been changed to reflect how much he looked like a Von Trapp child) hesitance to book any time off for a long weekend was not much of a clue of what was to come.
On the day of travel I called Friedrich from my office to check he’d made it down from Leeds in time and was at St Pancras, “Do you want to get a trainic?*” I asked, to which memory tells me he replied in the negative… in fact he sounded downright sulky. Clue number 2.
When I met him at St Pancras Friedrich was crying. ‘Oh my goodness I’ve been jabbering on about trainics and somebody’s died.’ I thought.
Nobody had died. “I am not in love with you” wept Friedrich. Something told me, (intuition, instinct? I don’t know) not to reply: “Well I’m not in love with you so… we’re cool, right?”
It did not occur to me this was an opening line of a break up. I thought it was a peculiar clarification. Friedrich continued to weep and then I realised: “are you breaking up with me?”
Here’s how much I wanted to go to Paris. When I asked what Friedrich wanted to do now he said he wanted to go to Paris because I’d been so excited. So we checked in.
I had a t-shirt with lots of little Eiffel towers on it that I, uh, didn’t want Friedrich to notice. That’s what I remember most (probably due to a reason I will come to later) about the entire incident. So I had to keep my coat and scarf firmly on.
I was hot and cross and trying to have a “so, how’s work?” conversation when Friedrich announced that actually he could not do this. FUNNILY ENOUGH you can’t just waltz out of Eurostar Departures.
The staff get pretty antsy about a red-faced pair asking to leave. Did you know you have to state your reason for why you no longer wish to travel? BECAUSE YOU DO.
Before Friedrich and I parted ways he asked how I felt: “I feel like I want my money back.” “Oh, of course!” Essentially the guy had paid £300 to dump me.
I got on a train and tried not to cry. And then my mum texted to say if I was coming home I’d have to share her bed because she had friends staying. And then a bag fell on my head.
But! Last weekend I finally did Paris platonic style! We stayed at L'hôtel Madeleine Opéra, a great starting point for exploring on foot or by Metro. We reserved a perfectly adequate family room with bonus adjoining creepy room. Also there is a magnifying mirror. Bring tweezers.
When you get to Gare du Nord ask at the Metro ticket booth for a 10€ carnet, a pack of 10 single Metro tickets.
After eating onion soup and drinking Brouilly (which I never pronounced to the satisfaction of various Parisian waiters - I can’t speak French, so I let the funky music do the talking most of the time) at Le Saint-Amour we went vintage shop hunting. If you’re after kooky fur accessories Paris is the place for you. Also I noted that in the city of chic those high heeled trainers seem to be big.
Anxious to not miss out on the bistro culture we popped into Bistrot Vivienne. If you go at the right time you will see a bin MAGICALLY emerge from the floor (I may have overindulged in Brouilly by this point). I can’t tell you the timings for this, but I can tell you this is what you envisage when you imagine a Parisian bar.
We also visited Notre Dame, where I had a very substandard steak. When Olivia gives you instructions you follow them. Unsurprisingly the area is touristy, we visited on my insistence because the bookshop Shakespeare & Company is there. It’s a tribute shop/hostel to Sylvia Beach’s original shop where Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and others used to meet.
If you’re feeling like your glutes could do with a work out then it’s 5€ to walk up the Eiffel Tower. The views are incredible; but forget the Paris panorama, I totally saw a beaver in one of the ponds below the tower!
I also saw some rabbits hanging out alone on a wall. Is this a Paris thing I don’t know about? We ended the trip with a visit to the bohemian Chez Prune along the Canal St-Martin, a quick metro ride from Gare du Nord, where I recommend the charcuterie, and fromage platters.
And that, friend, is how we do platonic Paris. Do you have a worse break-up story? Or recommendations for more platonic weekend destinations? Tell me! @squeamishbikini.
*A picnic for the train, a tradition my sister and I started. It’s usually cava, sushi, eclairs and maybe some fruit after the time we overindulged and didn’t… feel well. SEE HOW EFFING WHIMSICAL I AM? Why would you ever break up with me?