Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Weekend in Paris - Things to do & my new favourite places!

I've just got back from the weekend in Paris. My sister took me to celebrate my 30th Birthday and it was amazing!! I'be been twice before, once 8 years ago with my hubby and again 5 years ago when I took my sister for her 30th.

The Eurostar was early - 6.18am and the return journey was at 8.20pm on the Sunday so that we had 2 full days in Paris.

We stayed at Grand Hotel des Gobelins. It was a cute hotel situated on Boulevard Saint-Marcel. The nearest metro was a good 10 minute walk away. There's a supermarket located a few doors down (handy for grabbing a bottle of wine to drink whilst getting ready) and there's a few shops around for general mooching.

We dropped off our bags when we arrived as we were too early to check into the room and set off to explore. Our first stop was Saint Germain - by far my favourite place in Paris. It's packed full of people but not in an over-bearing way - the streets are bustling with people, the cafes all busy and it just oozes atmosphere. We found a cute little cafe to have lunch at. A steak and a glass of white wine later and we were refuelled. We came across a chocolate shop called Un Dimanche A Paris (A Sunday in Paris) and had to stop for a hot chocolate. I was thrilled to find they sold Florentines. I have attempted to make these before and they turned out awful. It was pricey at 4 euros 60 for just 1 but hey, we were in Paris so what they hey. Sue chose a salted caramel chocolate to try - 90 cents. We ordered 2 hot chocolates and were shocked when the assistant put out 2 tiny cups. We got the giggles as we couldn't believe it was 2 euros 50 for this tiny mug of chocolate. We then took a sip and it was pure heaven - the thickest hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Sueling said 'who's laughing now'!!

I had read on a blog before we left about another chocolate shop called Patrick Roger. She mentioned these almonds covered in caramel and chocolate that I just thought sounded amazing and had to try. We eventually found it (my map reading skills are non existent) and I found them - but they were 15 euros for a tiny bag! My clever sister said I should ask to try one before I bought them. I did and as it turns out they were a huge disappointment and definitely not worth 15 euros. The shop was amazing though - creations that looked too good to eat. Check out the little shiny chocolate - they made me think of the stones that greenclaws used to plant!

We walked a lot the first day - here's a few holiday snaps. Yes - I'm don;t care about looking stupid whilst taking holiday snaps - holding the Eiffel tower, check! Copying the St Michele Statue - check!

On Sat night we went to find a bar I had found online before we left. On the website it looked great but when we got there it wasn't so great. It also turned out that we were in the 'ghetto' of Paris! It was a little scary so we found another bar for a quick drink before heading back to our favourite spot - Saint Germain!

Luckily we stumbled upon a Latin Bar - this was so much fun!! See the proof below!

We were pretty drunk after a few hours here and ended up at a piano bar where we met the lovely bartender Taquis and a newly engaged couple called Danielle and Hayden. They were loads of fun and we ended up at another bar where we had a cheeseburger before getting a taxi home. 


On Sunday morning I think it's far to say that we were feeling pretty rotten. Awful. Just plain hungover.
I fely so ill I didn't want to get out of bed but as we had to check out I had no choice. 

We decided to head to the Eiffel Tower and stopped for lunch. Big mistake - it was really expensive and was rubbish quality. My omelette was nice enough but my sister ordered spaghetti bolognaise and it was a mound of pasta with a tasteless dollop of sauce on top - and I mean a dollop. It was expensive - next time I would recommend eating somewhere other than near the tower as they charge ridiculous prices. I think the majority of places don't care about the quality as it's mainly tourists that they'll never see again. Lesson learned. The coca cola sorted us though out and we trekked to see the Eiffel Tower. 

 Sue had been told about a shopping centre called Lafayette so we decided to do a spot of shopping. WE ended up walking for 20 mins in the wrong direction and after jumping on the metro to get there we found it was closed as were ALL the shops in that area!!! As we'd been before we had visited Sacre Coeur so thought we should go back and take in the views of Paris once more. On the way (and slowly flagging from too much alcohol the night before and lots of walking) we luckily stumbled upon a cupcake shop called Chole's Cupcakes. It was the cutest place!! Sueling declared that we deserved it so in we went. It was tiny but perfectly formed with 3 small tables painted mint green which looked so pretty with the pink walls. They had 4-5 flavour cupcakes available and we both chose the vanilla & white chocolate. They were served on little plates with a spoon and napkin. Unfortunately they did not serve English breakfast tea but seeing as sue is very clever and had teabags in her bag we ordered a hot water! The owner was lovely. She still charged us for 2 teas and rightly so. You can't put a price on a proper cuppa tea!! The cake was amazing and had white chocolate ganache baked into the batter. It was topped with Swiss meringue buttercream. I want another one just thinking about it! 

After that we felt so much better and set off up the hill again. We found an amazing shop on the way called Paper Dolls. The owner, an English woman called Candy who has lived in Paris for 20 years had set it up to support young designers. The decor is based on Alice in Wonderland. There's a chair, teacups and a place setting on the ceiling! Candy was SO lovely. If you go to Paris you must stop by.

The Sacre Coeur is up A LOT of stairs. We were shattered when we got to the top! I love the mini square that's full of street artists doing caricatures of tourists. We finally made it to the top and took in the view. The last time we visited it had been blazing sunshine. This time round it was cold and dull so didn't really have the same effect. The view is still amazing though and is definitely worth the walk up all those stairs!

We then made our way to the Eurostar to wait for our train back. It was an amazing weekend and I can't wait to go again!! Next time I would stay away from alcohol though ;)

Important Tips About Paris:
* Their underground system is called the Metro. You have to buy 1 ticket for each single journey which costs 1 euro 70. You can buy a book of 10 single tickets for 13 euros 40 (I think) so it works out cheaper to get a book of them and saves you buying a new ticket each time you travel.
* Buy the metro tickets on the Eurostar - they make an announcement on the train where you can buy them in carriage 6. We didn't do this and when we got there we then had to queue for 20 mins just to buy the tickets.
* Don't go to the Rue De Belleville area - this is the ghetto of Paris! It was scary and it's just as well we bumped into an English Girl who told us this when we arrived there otherwise we'd have stayed in the area and may have had a completely different night.
* The shops are closed on a Sunday - some areas are open. Plan ahead so that you don't end up walking around empty streets like we did.
* Taxis are fairly cheap - definitely get one home to be on the safe side.
* We took out euros at St Pancras. The exchange rate was awful - £150 got me 152 euros. I bought a couple of things using my debit card and when I got back I discovered that the 2 necklaces that came to 60 euros only cost £53 so it would have worked out better for us to use our debit cards instead.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Monster Party!

We are moving house in a few weeks - there's no move date sorted, no van and I've only just started packking boxes and even though I've got all this to do I've been busy crafting!

I've made my sister some baby shower invitations and today I made a few invitations for my son's 2nd Birthday party. He's into monsters inc, cars, toy story and finding nemo at the moment so I picked monsters as the theme because I just love these little mini monsters and lets face it - anything with googly eyes are super cute!

This is what I have so far. I just love the little cupcake toppers, which I need to attach sticks to yet. Items are also available from my Etsy shop. Hopefully I'll have better photos soon.