After our fleeting visit home we were back at the van. Nothing had changed, nothing had moved it was all exactly as I remembered. I think we were a little different. The goodbyes this time were so much harder knowing it would be so long before we see our family and after recent events I was petrified of anything happening whilst I went on this selfish adventure. I squeezed each person that extra bit tighter and made sure I would tell them all about our adventures.
The drive from Charles De Gaulle into Paris was sluggish and frustrating but we knew it was a necessary evil so we could then relax and enjoy a couple of days in a beautiful city. Even the weather was better now, which I thought was a sign of things to come. Prior to the trip Joshua had done some research abut where to park a camper van cheaply and safely, something I never imagined possible especially in the capital! We rocked up at a park, the trees shaded the van nicely and with only joggers passing every so often it was a perfect haven of peace. As it was early we decided to make use of a Metro day pass – hey we are technically on holiday and I thought it might be a bit crazy for the bikes. I looked up some places to eat and of we went. The breakfast choice was easy – Twinkies. I loved the name and that it did gluten free options. We seemed to be in an area away from the tourists and surrounded by locals we ambled through the streets. The menu was perfect for what we wanted, a hearty meal to see us through a busy day. It may have been a bit more on the expensive side from what we were used to but we expected nothing less from Paris. The portions were HUGE so it was money well spent. Once wed filled up we were desperate to get out into the stunning sunshine that was pouring in through the windows as we ate and so headed over the Sacre-Coeur Basillica. Our plan for today was simple, we wanted to see places we hadn’t seen on our last trip or at least see them in a different view. It had been five years since wed last visited this place and it brought back so many happy and romantic memories we weren’t sure how we could compete with out 21 year old naive selves.
As we exited the metro for the Basillica we trudged up the hilly streets past the various tourist shops and cafes. So many of the usual cons were out in force. The usual suspects of sign this petition or here is a beautiful bracelet for you. Thankfully we are streetwise enough to steer clear but it did make me sad to think of those things in such a stunning location. The sky was the bluest I had seen it in a long time and the heat was immense. It was perfect. We walked to the top and made a beeline for a bench that overlooked the skyline of Paris. We soaked up the sun and planned our next walk over to Rue Cremieux a little cobbled street lined with colourful Parisian style buildings. It was a dreamy little quiet haven off a busy street filled only with the music from one of the occupants practising his guitar skills. This place lived up to its nickname of the most ‘instagrammable’ street in Paris. A tad different from the usual but still equally as lovely tourist hotspots it felt like a little secret not many people knew about.
After the mini photoshoot I forced Joshua to both be the star and also creatively direct the angles we meandered along the rivers edge towards the Notre Dam. We visited this beautiful building by night the last time we came choosing to dine in a tiny restaurant near the water and enjoying a bottle of champagne to toast to my 21st from my Auntie Lynne. Memories I won’t ever forget. It was lovely to be reminded of these times but also creating new ones like walking hand in hand across the bridge towards the building with the sun beating down on the back of our necks and pointing out all the elements we recall from our last visit.
The many flags hanging from buildings and painted in windows was a reminder of the current world up and as France were playing it was only fitting we joined in the celebrations choosing a small and cramped pub to prop up a table and enjoy a beer and some crisps whilst the game rolled on. I am not a fan of football but it was a lovely experience seeing all these people both men and women, young and old all so passionate about their country. Thankfully for us they won and the roar of celebration buzzed through the town. The crisps were an easy snack and filled the hunger hole that had grown with each step across the French Capital, but we needed something a bit more substantial. After a few failed attempts following Tripadvisor and google opening times (note to self the internet can be completely shit at times and point blank lie) we headed to a place which sounded like it would hit the spot. ‘Beast’ was its name and it was a BBQ meat heaven served on metal trays. We dived into pulled pork and beef brisket like we hadn’t eaten in weeks but it was so divine and just what we wanted.
As it was getting late (we’d been out over 12 hours already! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?) there was something I desperately wanted to see. The sun setting over the Louvre. We took the metro over as the last of the natural light was ebbing out of the city. By no means did it seem like the place was slowing down The bars were lit up and windows cast magical glows showcasing the people inside drinking and laughing. We passed the people and under the quiet of the arches to see the glass pyramid shape dominating the far side. It was the exact arch we walked under when we were 21. The square seemed eerily quiet, the snaking queue dividers were empty and only a handful of people ambled on the cobbles. We walked between the water and the glass structure peering inside to see only the security guard walking across the floor below. The dusky sky above was clear and shades of pinks and purples cast reflections against the building. The yellow glow from the pyramid such a contrast against the natural hues from above. It was the most romantic ending to the perfect Parisian day.