At the beginning of the year my friend suggested something pretty cool – which was that we go to Paris for a few days and then to the Swiss city of Basel. I’ll be honest – I’d barely heard of and knew nothing about Basel, but of course said “Hell yeah” to revisiting the French capital with my friend, who turns out to be the last person I went to Paris with (btw, you can see my old posts here and here if you fancy a few LOL’s). That was all the way back in 2012 – an eternity for a Paris obsessive like me, who dreams of living there and doing all the Parisienne cliches one can think of.
So in the early hours of the 3rd of September myself and my two friends met at Gatwick airport (sadly a glamorous trip on the Eurostar wasn’t meant to be) and off we flew to Paris. Once we landed we headed to where our Air B&B was (it took a while to find, oops!), dropped off our stuff and officially started our mini adventure. We spent two nights in Paris and then flew to Basel on Tuesday evening and spent two and a half nights there – I say half because we had to get up in the middle of Thursday night to catch a super early flight back to Gatwick on Friday morning (I had to head to work, what a nightmare!). Anyway, here are a ton of pictures and a few notes on this dreamy trip – it’s not going to be a guide as such I’m afraid, because I didn’t do anything ‘groundbreaking’ and definitely feel like I need to go back and discover a few hidden gems!
Oh, Paree – you’re such a delight. Five years is a long time without going to Paris – but let me tell you, it felt like I had been there only yesterday. And that was such a wonderful feeling.
As expected, the weather was very mild and easy – not too sunny, but still perfect for walking around for hours.
For day 1, which involved getting my butt all the way to Gatwick airport in the early hours of a Sunday morning (guess what – I’m nowhere near Gatwick), looking for our Air B&B (it wasn’t easy) and wandering around Paris for the rest of the day. So what did I choose to wear? Why, my red floral Topshop midi dress, of course (seen here).
This pretty little pastry basket was part of a delicious late breakfast/brunch/lunch we had while we were waiting to get into our Air B&B (so annoying that we had to wait, but oh wells, it was cheap). It’s not in the centre of Paris, but if you happen to be close to the metro stations Daumesnil or Dugommier I would totally recommend L’Inedit Café – it was buzzing and felt super local and non-touristy.
Day 2 was the day we basically did a ton of stuff. As one of my friends had never been to Paris we did all the touristy things, which both myself and my other friend were happy to do as we hadn’t been in so long. One ‘new’ thing that we did was visit Rue Cremieux, a street full of colourful houses that I can now say is the dreamiest thing ever. My Instagram needs were fulfilled but I do have to say it did feel a bit invasive, as at least one of the houses had a ‘No Photos’ sign – I don’t know how I would feel if I lived on a colourful street and people were taking pictures of my house every day!
As you can see my choice of outfits were very colourful for Paris – and doesn’t this ASOS dress work perfectly with Rue Cremieux? I actually love this dress so much, and am gutted it’s not really winter friendly. Till next year…
I also love my little raffia bag from Stradivarius – I’d say it’s one of the best £14 I spent this summer. She (yes, it’s a she) is just so cute! And she was a good choice for Paris and Basel, working with all of my outfits and managing to carry my camera. It’s good that she’s now gone into winter hibernation because I totally want to rock her next summer again.
I sadly didn’t get around to checking whether the iconic shop Colette was still open while we were there, but if there is one cool shop I can recommend it’s Merci – it’s such an amazing three-story concept store, full of luxury interiors, fashion and lifestyle pieces. Overall it’s expensive but it’s worth a visit just to swoon around for half an hour. Plus, how cute is this car outside of the shop?
We came across this extremely photogenic restaurant called Aux View Paris d’Arcole, not far from Notre-Dame Cathedral – my friend says we’d already walked past it in one of our previous trips. Maybe I should actually try eating there one day?
No, this will never get old. Not even the hundreds of people there trying to sell you souvenirs and alcohol could get in the way of this magical moment.
The first time we caught this view on the train on this trip was at night, and we all screamed like little girls. I feel sorry for the people who were around us, but it was a great moment for us.
There was actually a queue – albeit a very civilised queue – to take this picture of the Arc de Triomphe. I don’t think it was as dangerous as it looks? Totally worth it though.
Ah, Montmartre. So freaking touristy but as charming as ever. Especially through the eyes of Instagram.
Isn’t La Maison Rose the prettiest thing ever? I stumbled upon it just by chance in Montmartre, and I was delighted I did because one of the brands that was represented by my workplace at the time had done a beautiful photo shoot right by this place. Sadly my friends were taking a break at the time so I couldn’t get myself in the picture with it – although it looks better without moi!
Sacre Coure doesn’t get old either – in fact it was here were I got that warm fuzzy feeling of feeling like I’d been there only yesterday, and feeling just as charmed by all it as I had in the past. It was like seeing an old friend and feeling that the spark was still 100% there.
Despite having a worryingly sweet tooth I am very fussy about sweet treats and wouldn’t eat the beauties seen above, which were picked by my friends. But not photographing them wasn’t an option.
Isn’t Notre-Dame de Paris such a beaut?
On day 3, we had to be selective and on the ball, as we would be heading to the airport for about 5. That didn’t stop us from making one fatal error – the Louvre is closed on a Tuesday. What a D’oh moment. But when life gives you lemons make lemonade – OK, that expression doesn’t apply here but basically we went to my favourite Parisienne museum, the Musee d’Orsay instead. And we all got this awesome shot. It was incredibly stressful – let’s just say there was no civilised queue here – and I almost didn’t get it, but finally did and it so 100% worth getting that Instagram moment.
Yes, we did the Catacombs of Paris. I don’t know what to think of this ‘space’ – it’s pretty weird. And it does feel very disrespectful and immoral in a way, walking around and taking pictures of people’s bones. I even feel bad putting this picture on my blog, but I really wanted to talk about the Catacombs. As someone who doesn’t really like ‘grizzly’ things as such, I was surprised at myself for being so up for seeing it. But I guess it’s an important and fascinating part of Paris’ history and therefore a bit of a must-see. I wouldn’t go again, and I would hesitate to recommend it to people – I also found it a little overpriced.
I loved walking past the Stravinsky Fountain again – back in the day, I didn’t know what all those crazy statues were all about. But then two years ago I went to an art exhibition in Bilbao about one of the artists behind them, Niki de Saint Phalle (see here), and this time I looked at them with a fresh set of eyes and was able to truly admire their quirkiness and eccentricity.
We found this super cute bakery called Le Pain Au Naturel just before going to the Catacombs – yes, it classifies as a chain so I guess it’s nothing special but I absolutely loved it, that big palmier you see in my hand? It was YUMMY.
Another super vital thing we did on our last day in Paris? We milked Trocadero like there was no tomorrow and took a bunch of Insta-worthy pictures with Eiffel. I’d actually never really done this before and it was super fun and cliched but so freaking worth it. I was lucky to be with two friends who love taking pictures as much as I do and were totally up for helping me out with all this Insta nonsense. In fact, that was the main difference between my 2012 and 2017 trips – this time around it was all about doing it for the ‘Gram (lame, I know). And whilst I’m aware that it’s not a good way to live and travel – because those square-shaped photos are not real life – I do genuinely love photography and I guess it’s my little creative outlet, so I’m all for sprinkling a little magic into the ordinary.
So on our last afternoon in Paris tragedy struck and my camera’s battery died – the replacement battery I had brought was not actually charged. Tragic, I know. This meant I had to rely on my feeble iPhone 4s, which at the time was struggling with storage (damn you Apple for torturing us Apple devotees with storage issues) – hence why the pictures are not that great! But I did what I could and my friends helped too, so I’m actually not that disappointed with the results.
So, what can I say about Basel? I feel extremely ignorant admitting this but I knew nothing of this northwestern Swiss city before my friend suggested we go. I wouldn’t say to no to visiting any city because I love travelling and discovering new places, and I’m happy to say Basel did not disappoint. By the way, this was actually my first time in Switzerland!
I’d say it’s a reasonably small city so you wouldn’t need more than a few days to see it. My friend’s friend, who is living there at the moment, kindly showed us a few key parts of this medieval city – one of the most striking things about it is the Basler Münster Cathedral (where the above picture was taken), and the fact that it’s right on the river Rhine. Basel is full of arts and culture and has apparently almost 40 museums – I would have loved to go to Kunstmuseum but sadly I was on a bit of a budget!
Chocolate is definitely a thing in Switzerland, and I think Pretzels are a thing there too. Well, this is what I told myself while enjoying this chocolate Pretzel by the Rhine.
I can’t really recommend anywhere to eat in Basel – we were put off by the crazy prices we spotted on the menus and even went to Germany one night for dinner as it’s barely half an hour on the train (and might have even worked out cheaper)! I loved the Indoor Market Hall/Markthalle, which wasn’t particularly expensive and had a few shops as well as so many food stalls to choose from – just be careful with the opening hours as it’s not exactly an all-day thing!
Apparently there is a lot of street art in Basel – the main bit of street art that I came across was this pretty striking wall.
Basel is a very photogenic city, full of pretty architectural details that serve as reminders of different times.
I think this was someone’s house, which was in a park. Oops.
Perhaps by Instagram standards it would have made more sense to wear my Bonjour Boys t-shirt in Paris…
This beautiful building was very close to where we were staying – doesn’t it just look magical? As cheesy as it sounds, Basel is definitely one of those European cities that have a fairy tale touch, thanks to parts like its Old Town and all the medieval-looking details to be spotted everywhere.
There were so many beautiful facades…
The front of the Basler Münster, which features both Romantic and Gothic architecture.
Views of what I’m 90% sure is the Mittlere Brücke (middle bridge) from the Pfalz, a viewing terrace behind the Münster cathedral.
So many incredible details to be spotted on the Basler Münster cathedral – Gothic architecture is probably my favourite.
A shitty pic (soz) of the beautiful Rathaus (city hall), which is the most amazing shade of brick red and looks just as stunning on the inside.
Me stealing my friend’s ice cream just for the sake of a picture. Don’t worry, she got it back.
We were lucky enough to stay with my friend’s friend in Basel, who works at Novartis Campus – a place of interest for pharmaceutical peeps and architecture lovers. We went to her workplace and wow, it was amazing (it made me want to move, work and live there). The campus is almost like a city of its own, with lots of modern architecture, greenery, supermarkets (!), places to eat, etc. My friends and I were very lucky to be able to just go in and see it, as apparently it’s not open to the public – but Basel Tourism offers tours of the site every two weeks.
This cute church was very close to where we were staying – and by the way, another thing I loved about this city is the trams.
My modern attire totally clashing with the romantic and medieval vibes of Basel… should I have worn yet another French-speaking tee in Paris instead? Nah.
To summarise, it was one heck of a mini adventure. I already yearn for another trip to Paris and would love to go back to Basel with a little more money, because it overall seemed pricey AF. But lovely and doable without a ton of money too!
Apologies for such a lengthy post (and a big fat congrats if you made it to the end), I really did want it to just be a few notes and not a mini dissertation, but I get so carried away… I’ve got only one more travel post to do and that’s it for this year, I’ll have to try to plan a few more adventures for 2018!
Pictures taken in Paris and Basel between September 3rd and September 7th, 2017.