Going deep into Paris on a 48-hour city break is an unforgettable experience

The only memory I have of my last trip to Paris is standing over a river of raw excrement. I was 13 and, for reasons I’ll never know, my school skipped the Eiffel Tower and went for the Sewer Museum instead.

Just to be clear, this was actual human waste – it stank, and our teachers told us not to touch the walls.

This time Napoleon himself couldn’t stop me having a real holiday.
So when my partner and I flew on a little propellered passenger plane to the French capital for two nights, we went straight for the tower.

At 47ft taller than London’s Shard (and nearly half the price), it was built in 1889 and still excites me as much as when I was a boy.

With that ticked off, how do you spend 48 hours in Paris? We booked a cosy Airbnb in Belleville, up four flights with a gnarled balcony railing and daubed outside with graffiti art.

All very hip. Noisy crowds packed the terrace bars as a burst water main spewed down the cobbles.

We headed into the city side streets in search of character and, lost, we found vaccine pioneer Louis Pasteur’s lab with the help of an old man in a beret.
The metro has the best buskers and themed stops. Busts mark the Louvre and there are copper submarine walls at Arts et Métiers.

We ate coq au vin and steak with red wine for less than a Pizza Express meal. Paris is pricey, but Prix Fixe menus in the Latin Quarter come in under €15.
Our favourite bistro outside that tourist spot was Le Petit Cler, the packed and charming little sister of the Obamas’ favourite restaurant.

The terror threat was always present in the background, with armed police patrolling the streets. Earlier, a suspect package forced us out of Charles de Gaulle airport soon after we landed, so it took two hours to get from plane to city.
But hauling ourselves up to the views from the overpriced artists’ hill of Montmartre, or ticking off revolutionary names in the jaw-dropping Pantheon monument, we never felt it intrude on our trip.

We avoided the sewers, picking the Picasso Museum where the artist’s works are explored in more detail than I’d ever seen.

These weren’t just women with noses out of joint – the artist’s landscapes, lifelike sculptures and early works fascinated me for two hours (museepicassoparis.fr €12.50).

Yet for all I tried, we couldn’t avoid going underground.
Dan goes head to head in the catacombs

Horrified deja vu set in as we clicked a turnstile in what resembled a public toilet and descended musty smelling stairs to the Catacombs.
Six million people’s bones were moved to these ancient quarries from the 1700s as the city’s graveyards became full, and they’ve been a grim tourist draw since.
Shins and arms were arranged into patterns like hearts and crosses in the low yellow light.

The silence was broken only by dripping water as the remains went on and on – despite the fact we were seeing only a tiny fraction of them ( catacombes.paris.fr €12).

For sheer weirdness and kitsch tourist value, it was the best bit of the trip.
All too soon, our snapshot trip to Paris was over. And as we left through the gift shop, with its skull keyrings, I kicked myself.
I’d returned to the great city vowing never to explore the deep again – and once more that’s exactly why I’ll remember it.

Get there
Flybe has flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle from Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, Edinburgh, Exeter, London City, Manchester and Southampton; and flights to Paris Orly Ouest from Southampton. One way starts at £34.99. flybe.com
Paris property booked at airbnb.co.uk
Tourist info: uk.france.fr
Time zone: UK +1hr
Currency: Euro £1 = 1.17
Best time to go: Beret good city break year round.

Published: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/city-breaks/going-deep-paris-48-hour-8475040

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