Hands up, I’m a romantic. Nothing makes my heart skip a beat like the idea of long romantic walks, candlelit dinners and a huge, comfy hotel room – preferably with a well-stocked mini bar. When the idea of Paris was floated at SLiNK HQ I scrabbled over the desks, batting away any competitors to grab the trip with both hands.
Since the birth of the Eurostar, all the way back in 1994, Londoners have been able to hop on a train in the city and – before you can say ‘Ou est le Louvre’ – you’ve arrived in Paris. I grabbed my significant other, packed a small rucksack and looked up my favourite steak restaurant: I was headed to the city of love.
The fast and easy journey on the super suave train was surprisingly pleasant, and much less hassle than flying – although there are rigorous security checks, you don’t have to be there hours before your journey and there’s a certain 1920s ‘je ne c’est quoi’ about rail travel.
Our train left St Pancras at 6.20 am and I just quietly shut my eyes as we waited for all the passengers to be seated in London…and only opened them again when the train manager made an announcement saying we were ten minutes from the Gare du Nord. (Sleeping on journeys is my specialty…
We were staying at Hotel Le Six on the Left Bank, walking distance to pretty much everything – including the gorgeous chocolate shops in Saint Germain and Bon Marche. Arriving at the hotel by taxi, having had an impromptu tour of the city from a keen driver, it was stunning. Our jaws dropped to the floor as we stepped out the car and walked to the doors. The hotel isn’t swanky, it’s not pretentious and there’s no airs or graces – but it is just simply gorgeous. Walking through the front doors I still had the impression of my boyfriend’s jacket carved into my face from falling asleep on his shoulder. But the staff were far too polite to laugh at two ‘Brits abroad’ and welcomed us with tea and coffee. It was too early to check into the hotel – we rocked up at 10am – but we sat and talked to the check-in staff about where to go. Providing us with a map, they printed out directions to Shakespeare & Co and took in our luggage. Leaving the hotel we walked and walked and walked. In fact, we walked the whole weekend. Although the metro is relatively easy to understand we didn’t want to miss a thing – and being so central it was easy to walk from sight to sight.
Visiting the city in December, it was bitterly cold and we were wrapped up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves. Vin Chaud – mulled wine – became our tipple of choice as we made our way around the city of love. The Louvre, the Notre Dame, ‘lover’s bridge’… we even queued to go up the Eiffel Tour!
But the best part of the trip was going back to Hotel Le Six, talking to the staff and heading up to our gorgeous room. With the world’s biggest bed, made to perfection every morning, and a huge bathroom it really was idyllic. The room had not one but two balconies with chairs and table on one side. Looking out over the City of Love at dusk, tracing the rooftops with my sight, was unforgettable. Of course, I threw the doors wide open despite the -2C temperatures and did my best Carrie Bradshaw impression. It felt like a scene from an old black and white movie.
Breakfast at the hotel was wonderfully Parisian, with mini pastries sat alongside a huge cheese and cold meat selection. With every type of tea imaginable, it would be easy to while away a morning enjoying the ambiance and delicacies on offer. For those looking for something more lling there is a traditional English breakfast on offer – or at least the components. But, hey, when in Rome.
Location was a ten out of ten for the hotel, which was in the popular 2nd district of Paris. It was an area famed for housing love-birds Ernest Hemingway and Zelda Fitzgerald – most likely found propping up the bars – in the 1920s.
When it came to check-out, which was a very laid-back, European midday, I’ll admit I was sad. I didn’t want to leave the simplicity and sophistication of Hotel Le Six. I didn’t want to come back to London with its obvious lack of patis- series and home-grown chocolate shops. But, armed with plenty of wine, cheese and bread, I hopped onto the Eurostar and bid Paris a fond ‘bon soir’.