It’s easy to get be overwhelmed when on a city break. Hours of walking around churches, museums, shops can mean you miss out on seeing the real side of a city. That’s why on my recent Eurostar trip to Paris, I decided on a fresh approach – call it ‘A Travel State Of Mind’. It’s a check list of ideas to get the most out of a mini break. Here’s how I explored Paris and had so many adventures.
What is #ATravelStateOfMind? This is a concept dreamed up by Eurostar to encourage us to get way more out of a city break. I took up their challenge, working my way around Paris using the following six hashtags.
# Pack Small, Live Big
The idea? Lighten up a little and get set to go grand.
I failed at the first hurdle. My bag was MASSIVE. I’m a woman who needs boots, jumpers, floaty skirts, stripped tops and a million accessories. A small bag was never going to cut it for me. What I did pack though smugface was my new CocoRose suede pumps in my fav shade of blue that fold up into a tiny bag and that saved vital space for yet more striped tops.
# Ask a local, not your phone.
The idea? There is no competition when it comes to local knowledge. Swap your screen for a cheery hello and discover the city’s best secrets.
As an official phone addicted – I check my IG, Facebook and emails at least once an hour at home – not using my iphone to research the hell out of my Paris trip was tough.
I arranged my stay – for both me and my friend Anwen – through a holiday home swap with GuestToGuest (a bit like Airbnb but free to use). We scored a beautiful apartment that was a real home rather than a hotel. Within our first hour we’d met our lovely neighbour, Nick, and over a glass of wine or two (hic) he pointed out on the map the best places to eat, shop for croissants and where to get a decent coffee. Brownie points!
We asked everyone for advice from the baker who made our sandwiches (gave us a great park to enjoy said sandwiches) to the friendly museum staff, to the great waiters – in fact everyone was so lovely. Hold in mind we don’t speak (much) French, we unearthed some gems in this city by giving a few smiles to the locals. This is how we ended up in the Bonne Nouvelle area of Paris where the bookshops where busier than the cafes.
The idea? Change your point of view and get a whole new perspective on a city
This was the most fun to do. I spammed all my socials with my shots of Paris skylines. And I gave Anwen the important job of being my personal photographer for the trip – snapping me in various poses around the city – including balancing on a giant stick of rock/modern art in the Palais Royal gardens.
#Say Yes and See What Happens
The idea? Think positively when you travel and take the plunge to embrace the extraordinaire.
This is where Anwen took this challenge to the next level. After eating Pizza on Nick’s suggestion (see #2) we were heading back and we saw a fun packed bar called Hoppy – which specialises in wheat Beer. We were spotted outside the bar by an American couple – who invited us to join them for drinks. Anwen didn’t even pause she just said Yes! Several beers later we had made new Instagram friends and planning a trip to Austin next year.
Other Yes moments
Yes to the Museu D’Orsey – we slacked off the more popular Louve for this less well known art gallery (using our two for one discount vouchers with your EuroStar ticket)
Yes to Bikes. We spotted Paris’s bike (like London’s Borris bikes) where you can pick up and drop off bikes across the city. Braving the crazy French driving, we cycled our way through the city and stumbled across this flower market (where I was told off for touching the flowers). And all for the cost of 1Euro for 24 hours transport.
Yes to acting like Amélie in the movie. Cue lots of photos in the pastel pink doorways, swirling of skirts and the movie sound track playing in my head. Blossom, blossom, blossom.
Yes to going on the wheel. More views + less crowds. Move over Tour Effiel.
Yes to our very own cocktails. After asking locals where to drink, they suggested BonHomie – this crazy cool new bar that made the most awesome cocktails. Our barman loved created a cocktail to match Anwen’s red hair, while I had a ‘cool but complicated’ whisky sour. Few shots later, we made new friends (again).
Yes to just soaking it all in…….
# Lunch Longer
The idea? Take time to ponder life’s big questions
This was the easiest challenge. Anwen and I enjoyed baguette in the park in the blossom, late brunches in a café by Notre Damme and sandwiches on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. We did a ton of people watching. French women are fearless when it comes to high heals – it made my eyes water. They all look so bloody chic too. ALL THE TIME.
Over many long lunches, my big question? How to create that perfect capsule wardrobe.
We got so in to the swing of hanging out, that at end of our trip we allocated a few hours just to kick back and relax in the newly designed Eurostar business lounge in Guard Du Nord. Imagine pink velvets armchairs, brushed gold lighting and endless cups of coffee up above in the rafters of this station.
# Bring back more than just a tan
The idea? The best souvenirs come in all shapes and sizes.
Shopping – hey? Well that is where I excel! How damm cute are these chocolate bars? Yes, they cost £10 or something just as stupid as that but they were a must-have from my trip. Does the blonde on the wrapper remind you of anyone? Also on my shopping list was these colourful mini Effie tower key rings for 50p each for my mum and sister as souvenirs.
It’s not just shopping that inspired me. On the way home, I made a video of our last hours of Paris (see above in the top of this post) which I have love playing and re-playing to get that mini-break feeling all over again.
Well there you go – that is how I know want to travel on all city breaks – with a few smiles, a positive attitude and one pair of shoes = #ATravelStateOfMind.
If you want to know how I stayed I Paris for FREE I insist you check out my blog post at the end of the month. Don’t forget to watch my short video on our last hours in Paris (and my tour of the brand new VIP lounge in EuroStar’s Gare Du Nord) as well as lots of arty shots of this pretty city which is slowly filling up Instagram feed over here.
Planning your next mini break? How do you feel about trying this new way of exploring a city? I’d love to know if you have ever tried out one of the ideas above on your recent trip. Share the adventures you got up to.
**Disclaimer. I was given one return ticket on the Eurostar to Paris. All thoughts and photos are my own.