A couple of weeks back I spent 36 fabulous hours in Paris.
It was my 27th birthday and I guess if I was any other person this trip would have been a surprise, but this is me and I hate surprises (no, really); so I was told about it a few weeks in advance so that I could mentally prepare.
Mentally prepare? It sounds like I was embarking on a trip of torture, right? But the thing that I need to prepare myself for, ahead of a trip abroad, is the travel.
I have travelled from London to Paris via Eurostar before, way back in 2008, about 8 months before my panic attacks started. I was still a fussy traveller back then, but my pre-travel anxiety was nowhere near as bad as it is now.
The good thing about the Eurostar is... it's bloody quick. If you have ever flown into Paris, you will know that you did not actually fly into Paris, but into an airport that is a good 45 minute car journey away from the capital city's centre. The Eurostar drops you at Gare-du-Nord train station, which is situated north of the river Seine and is a short taxi ride away from most places.
The Eurostar trains themselves are spacious, comfortable and have everything you could need for a 2.5 hour trip. I was so relaxed on the way out (and not that pharmaceutically induced type of relaxed), that I even managed to sleep; this is nothing short of a miracle, I am normally wide awake and on high alert the entire time I travel.
I will admit that just prior to entering the channel tunnel I went into anxious mode. Each breath I drew was short and shallow, I was sipping water and chewing gum like a super anxious crazy lady (oh wait) & and my travel buddy (god bless you) had to whip out the pre-packed notebook and pens so that I could doodle to distract myself.
17 minutes (oh yes, I timed it) inside the channel tunnel flew by & I managed to cover the front of our "travel journal" with anxious doodles, so it wasn't a complete waste of energy.
I have spent five days in Paris before, during which I managed to cram in pretty much every museum, monument & tourist attraction possible. So this trip was more about enjoying the (damp) Parisian atmosphere. However, you can't help but wander past (and inside) some of the famous Parisian landmarks.
Whilst in Paris I used the metro to get around; this was something I had not done before. If you hadn't gathered by my mentioning the pre-tunnel anxiety on the way over... I do not like feeling "trapped" in places, including tunnels. London's underground is something I tolerate, because most of the time you have to, but the Parisian metro was some what of a treat in comparison. Bright, clean and far less smelly; the trains were spacious and the metro stations were lined with plants in some parts of the city - dreamy.
I mentioned the damp Parisian atmosphere further up, but I think I was being a little too kind with my adjectives. It rained cats, dogs and half an ocean whilst we were in Paris. I was literally soaked to the skin, even with an umbrella, but that did not ruin the mood. This meant there was more time for refreshment pit stops & I somehow managed to stumble upon the most beautiful tea room. I felt like a bit of cultural party pooper eating a scone when abroad, BUT it was exactly what was needed after hours of strolling around in the rain.
Shortly after my trip, the Louvre was temporarily closed due to concerns for the artwork it houses. A dramatic amount of rainfall meant that the river Seine was substantially higher than it should be and there were concerns that it was going to burst it's banks.
I have since sat and wondered how many of these beautiful love locks were washed away during the floods?
Spot the Heron? Yes... it is real.
A lot of browsing, eating and drinking (caffeine) was enjoyed during this mini break. Parks were explored, friends were made in restaurants and toes were splashed in puddles (or lakes). The main thing I want to report about my time spent in the French capital?
Adventures had: Lots
Laughs had: Lots
Panic Attacks had: NONE!!
I wasn't going to be leaving Paris without a souvenir, so I popped into a pharmacie when passing and picked up a couple of Bioderma goodies; I swear by this stuff. After years of buying it on Amazon, they now stock it in boots; however it is still much cheaper, and better stocked, in France.