Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Planning Your Time in Paris

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Hey Owlets,

I'm still in holiday mode so I feel like it's the perfect time for another travel post. 

Paris is one of those cities where there is so much to see that you're never going to be able to do it all - especially if like me you only have a day there - so I wanted to talk about what I've learnt from my visit.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Do Your Research

Paris is a city that I've always wanted to visit so for me this wasn't an issue, but in other cities (even in Honfleur on the second day of the cruise) I've definitely fallen victim to this. I'm naturally a planner so I'll always be that person who's researched the city to within an inch of it's life before I've even left Bristol. You don't have to be as obsessive as I am, but if you don't research your destination before you go then you might miss out on something incredible that you never knew was just around the corner. One of my favourite ways to research where I'm going is by looking at the hashtags or location tags on Instagram. Often you'll find people that live in the city have posted a picture somewhere that you never would've known about from looking at the tourist sites.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Don't Rely On Trip Advisor

I feel like recently, with The Shed at Dulwich fiasco, we've all become a bit more sceptical of online review sites, but even before The Shed I wouldn't have recommended looking on these kinds of sites. The issue with this, other than businesses buying reviews, is that you will always see the same few restaurants. And ok, they might be at the top of the listings for a reason but, especially in Paris, they're probably at the top because they're central and that means that they're probably very expensive. Again, I'd turn to Instagram, or at least scroll past the top 50 results on Trip Advisor. By doing that you bypass the touristy places and might stumble across a hidden gem that no one knows about. And don't even bother trying to get a table in Cafe De Flore.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Don't Over-plan

One of the things that really annoys me when I see tourists in Bristol is that they have this sort of mental checklist where they need to see this, this and this so they end up running from place to place, taking a photo for evidence and leaving without enjoying the scenery, which I don't see any point in.

Make a to-do list of three things you want to see in a day, and focus on really enjoying those three things. For me it was Chanel on Rue Cambon and looking at the shops on Rue St Honore, visiting Irving Penn's exhibition at Le Grand Palais and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately seeing the exhibition fell by the wayside, but I never could've expected a 3 hour queue.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Plan Time to do Nothing

It sounds weird planning to do nothing, but it's really important that you do. Sometimes you'll go somewhere and find something else that you really want to do or find that you want to spend more time at something than you thought. If you've planned your day to the minute, you lose out on stopping for a coffee in the little side street that you found, or wandering into the tiny shop that you'd never know existed. Having that time to do nothing gives you chance to stop and take in the scenery, or sit down and have a rest if you're tired.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Look For Starbucks

I feel like my last tip is kind of a weird one but it's particularly useful, especially if you're in Paris (or most other European cities to be honest!) on a Sunday. Unlike England, everything is shut, so sometimes you'll find yourself stuck with nowhere to go (especially if it's pouring with rain like it was when I was there!). On Sunday all of the independent shops are closed which includes cafes, and there's very few places to go inside. Starbucks, as a rule, is generally open all the time so if you need somewhere to sit down and maybe shelter from the rain, then opening maps to find the nearest store is your best friend. There's also free WiFi, so if you're coming from outside the EU and can't use your data in France then it's a great chance to catch up on messages and get in touch with people back home.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

I'm going to stop there for today but there's so many things I learnt or that I wish I'd have done differently during my time in Paris, so if you'd like a part two of travel planning tips then let me know!

Is there something I've not mentioned here that you think would be helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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