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A Weekend in the City of Light

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The city of light, the city of love, and the most romantic city in the world. The French capital certainly has somewhat of a reputation to live up to.

Paris is the third most visited city in the world, and for good reason. Renowned for its fine food and wine, designer brands, rich history and thriving culture, a weekend in Paris is the perfect end to any European travel adventure.

One thing Paris is not known for is low prices, so do be prepared to pack a few spare Euros just in case. Multiple Eurolines coaches run daily to and from London, in addition to regular connections with most of Europe’s major cities.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Getting by in Paris on a student or backpacker’s budget is no mean feat, so those looking for an affordable place to stay should look no further than the Generator Hostel in the 10th arrondissement.

Just a minute’s walk from Colonel Fabien metro station, the hostel is well connected with the rest of the city. Generator boasts an affordable restaurant serving continental breakfasts along with a huge lunch and dinner menu, with large portions at reasonable prices.

The hostel is also equipped with two large bars serving a wide variety of creative cocktails, one located on the ground floor near reception and the other on the top floor, serving patrons of the spectacular roof terrace. The hostel reception and facilities project the image of a thoroughly modern hotel and this is reflected in the spacious private twin and double rooms, which all boast a desk and chair, large en suite bathrooms and large bright windows with clear views of the 10th arrondissement. Guests are made to feel like they are staying at a good hotel only minus a few amenities, and most importantly, minus the cost.

The roof terrace at Generator Hostel

Paris is a huge city with so much to see and those only visiting for a few days should seriously consider taking a bike tour when they arrive. Blue Bike Tours run ‘Best of Paris’ tours twice daily at 10:30am and 3pm, departing from the Place Saint-Michel near Notre Dame, the first stop of the tour.

The Best Of tour is the premier way to traverse central Paris and see all of the city’s biggest landmarks in a short space of time. Guides are well informed and like to share unknown histories of the city with those who take part. Tours last four hours, including half an hour for lunch, and are a welcome break from the crowded Parisian metro, especially during the hot summer months.

The experience is a great way to sample a bit of everything and help decide which attractions you would like to revisit and devote more time to outside of the tour. Tickets cost 29 Euros per person and places should be reserved online in advance.

Blue Bike Tour's low riders

As you would expect, highlights of the tour include the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Those who want to avoid queues at the Louvre should head to the Carrousel du Louvre, a large shopping mall connected to the northern wing of the world famous museum. Tucked away inside the mall, visitors will find a quiet entrance to the museum itself, guaranteed to have a far shorter queue than the entrance near the pyramids.

Those wishing to come back and climb the Eiffel Tower without wasting the whole day queuing should aim to do so around 9 or 10pm when most families with children have stopped visiting for the day and queues are at their shortest. For good views of the tower itself, head to the steps of the Trocadero after dark where a spectacular light show sees the tower sparkling for five minutes every hour on the hour.

The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid, credit: Wikimedia Commons

Paris is renowned world over for its quality food and wine, but quality usually comes at a cost. There are a few exceptions to the rule, however. Those looking for delicious French cuisine at reasonable prices should brush up on their GCSE French and head to Le Bouillon Chartier, near the Grands Boulevards metro. Chartier is a fast paced, no nonsense experience and tourists should not expect to be waited on hand and foot; the restaurant can also get extremely busy so small parties should be prepared to share tables with others. Make sure you or one of your friends can speak French at a level where they feel comfortable ordering for the rest of your party, as the waiters here will not even entertain English.

Provided you aren’t the kind of patron that thinks they’re God’s gift and you can handle all of these factors without taking anything personally, you will have a great time enjoying delicious food and good wine in charming surroundings; and the audaciousness of the cheeky waiters will only add to the experience.

The gorgeous Bouillon Chartier

After your meal, round off the evening by heading back to the hostel to watch the sunset from the roof terrace, Mojito in hand. The views are stunning and seeing the sun sink behind the distant Sacré-Coeur truly is spectacular. After the terrace closes at 10pm, take the metro to Quai de la Gare and walk straight to the nearby bank of the Seine where you will find a number of trendy riverside bars, in a very popular up and coming area. The bars here are extremely busy on the weekends so don't show up too late if you want to find a good table. Cocktails are around 8 to 10 Euros depending on your choice of bar and bartenders here aren't stingy with their measurements, so whatever you choose it's guaranteed to pack a punch.

Coaches provided by Eurolines, passes start from €195 for 15 days and can be purchased from www.eurolines.com/en/eurolines-pass/ 

Accomodation provided by Generator Hostels. Prices start from 25 Euros for a bed in a shared dorm and 98 Euros for a private double with en suite. http://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/paris/

Bike tour provided by Blue Bike Tours. Prices start from 29 Euros for a best of Paris tour. http://www.bluebiketours.com/paris/




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