Since watching the Netflix series Emily in Paris, I have been desperate to visit the city again, so I talked my husband into a day trip to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary, after all there is no more romantic city in the world than Paris.
It was an early start with our train from home to London St Pancras leaving at 05:16 to make the 07:01 Eurostar but it definitely is completely possible to do a day trip – just be prepared for a long day and ideally take the next day off work to recover.
Our first stop on arrival was The Place de l’Estrapade, where Emily’s flat is in the series and a visit to Boulangerie Moderne. Now it’s this bakery where in episode one, Emily samples her first pain au chocolat. Naturally I ordered the same and I have to say I was blown away, it really was heaven on the tongue, so buttery and delicious with gooey chocolate. I don’t think I will ever eat a pain au chocolat in England again. It was lovely sitting by the fountain in the middle of the square and doing some people watching. Also in this square is Gabriel’s restaurant in the series, Les Deux Compères, which is actually an Italian restaurant called Terra Nera.
We then walked to the nearby Pantheon, which is an impressive monument and one I seemed to have missed on previous visits to the city. We didn’t go inside but did pay a visit to the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church, located next to it and lit a candle. There is another filming location from the series here too, The Bombardier, and English style pub which Emily goes on a first date to with her British crush, Alfie.
From here, we walked down to the Seine and the iconic Notre Dame. It is heart breaking to see what the fire of 2019 did to such a magnificent piece of architecture, but it is inspiring to see the renovation well underway with plans to reopen the cathedral in December 2024. It is being restored sympathetically with many medieval building techniques being used.
The square in front of the cathedral was playing host to fete du pain, a bread festival and the aromas of freshly baked bread, drew you towards it. You could see everything being made on site and of course purchase it. We bought a baguette each for lunch and sat in the gardens to eat it, feeling very Parisian.
With Notre Dame closed to the public, we visited Sainte-Chapelle – somewhere I’d found when googling best sites to visit in Paris and certainly somewhere I hadn’t been before or even heard of. It’s a royal chapel in gothic style and was the home of the Kings of France until the 14th Century. The lower chapel is dark and rather underwhelming but when you climb the stairs to the upper chapel, you realise just why people rave about this attraction. There are 15 stained glass windows telling stories from the bible and a rose window at the west, representing scenes of the Apocalypse. All I could say was wow, it really took your breath away.
No trip to Paris would be complete for me without a visit to Kookai, the fashion label that dominated my teenage wardrobe. My husband was less impressed with this but luckily there was a chair by the fitting rooms for him to relax in. Clearly my shape has changed somewhat over the years and so the clothes aren’t perhaps as flattering on me as they once were, but I did buy a lovely green long sleeve v neck top.
Flagging a little by now, having been up so long and covering quite a bit of Paris on foot, we headed for Café de Flore in the Saint-Germain des Pres district, another filming location from Emily in Paris, where she meets Thomas, but also legendary as once frequented by famous writers, philosophers, actors and designers including Ernest Hemingway, Jane Fonda, Brigette Bardot and Yves Saint-Laurent. It feels very luxurious and the waiters all have waistcoats and bow ties. The hot chocolate was to die for, just like liquid chocolate, if a little expensive at €9.50.
My feet had decided we needed a break from walking so we then got the metro to Chaterlet. We walked through Westfield Forum des Halles, a modern shopping centre which makes it feel more like London or the US than Paris with the usual chains such as McDonalds and Nike. We headed back down to the Seine and to Pont des Arts, also known to Parisians as Le Pont des Amoureux or Lover’s Bridge. This was a necessary pilgrimage for me as felt like I had been cheating on my first love of Sex and the City with Emily in Paris and this of course is the site where Big says the iconic line in the final episode “Carrie, you’re the one”. The bridge is one of the few pedestrian only bridges in Paris and is covered with love padlocks.
A quick stop was made at the Louvre so we could do the iconic finger on top of the pyramid shot, before it was back to Emily in Paris filming location hunting and we headed to the Palais Royal, a formal royal palace. The forecourt or Cour d’honneur, has striped pillars which look like sticks of rock and seem to be a prime location for influencers to pose. The Jardin du Palais Royal is a beautiful tree lined garden, where Emily has her lunch break in the first episode and meets her friend, Mindy. Many of the benches have quotes written on them from 20th century writers. The one I am sitting on translates as ‘we’ll never look enough, never fair enough, never passionate enough.’
Near here at Place de Valois is the location of the offices of Savoir where Emily works in the series. Here I bumped into other fans of the programme having their photo taken outside.
Time was now against us and we still needed to have our anniversary dinner, so we jumped on the metro to Abbesses. Just in case we needed any further exercise, we were greeted here by a 186 step spiral staircase to the street – should have definitely used the lift! It was then onto the funiculaire to take us up to the steps of the beautiful Sacre Coeur with wonderful views over the city.
We headed to La Maison Rose for dinner in Montmartre. The building is pink with green shutters and really beautiful. People were stopping to take photos all the time of this pretty restaurant. Emily and Mindy eat here in season one, episode five, which isn’t surprising as it is definitely Instagram able. We had a table outside and it was lovely that it is finally warm enough to eat al fresco. We had a lovely meal to celebrate our pottery anniversary and then headed back on the metro to Gard du Nord for the 21:13 train back to London. We arrived home about 12:20am!
I love the French language and it was great to have the opportunity to brush up on my rusty A Level French. Paris really is a beautiful city and there is still more I want to see, which gives me another excuse to return. I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated our anniversary, even if I was very tired at the end of it, having been up about 23 hours and covering about 28,000 steps! Our second celebration will be the pottery date night I bought Phil as a gift which involves air dry clay, hot chocolate and fudge. Definitely a lot less strenuous!