EXPLORING PARIS WITH NO SLEEP FOR 24 HOURS. I stumble around the city centre of Paris.
Hi everyone. My name is Scott. Welcome to Planes, Trains, Everything and welcome to a rather damp and dreary Paris. When I checked the weather report a couple of days ago they said it was going to be dry with a possibility of a shower. Now it's wet with the possibility of a dry spell. I was actually going to go to the city of Reims - I think that's how you pronounce it as it looks like "Reems", but it's a bit of a washout today so I'm gonna just stay in the city, going to try and keep dry, and you can come along with me as well.
Right, where shall we go first? Well, first things first, I think I need some coffee and some food. I've just spent the last 20 hours on two coaches travelling down from Edinburgh to Paris and I'm absolutely wrecked so I really need something to get me up to cruising altitude and the nearest place I can think of which might sell something apart from that cafe over there is the Gare de Lyon - that way - because wherever you find a large station you always find eateries. Let's find out what this cafe is selling.
I had a look at the menu and the only thing that stood out is being recognizable was a mushroom omelette, but I looked inside and no one was actually eating. I mean it is quarter to eight but they were just sitting around drinking espressos and cappuccinos. No one was eating and I didn't want to feel like the odd one out so we'll still head up to Gare de Lyon and see what's happening there. I'm also aware of the fact that today is Sunday. When I was researching my trip to Reims - if that's how you pronounce it (I can't speak French) - most of the attractions were closed, most of the must-see shops selling chocolates and whatever were closed and I'm wondering how strict things are here in France on a Sunday. I know in Austria you need a special permit to open a shop on a Sunday.
If you're in a tourist area, for example, you can get the permit, but just to open up a shop for a laugh on a Sunday you can't do it. Well guys, two pastries and a coffee later and I'm at about 50%. I was at rock bottom about an hour ago.
Oh boy I was wrecked. I really was. I feel as if I've let everyone down because I'm not going Reims today, but then it is the Champagne capital of the world and it deserves a proper visit and not a visit on a Sunday. That was really bad planning on my part.
Right, I think we should go for a little walk. What do you think? One of my philosophies in travel is always have a Plan B and my Plan B today was, if I didn't get to the city of Reims, then I would be here in Paris and that's exactly what I'm doing. Here's a bit of retro tourism for you.
Remember those things? They're called maps. You don't have to have internet connection, you don't have to have a powered up phone to to use them. This one in particular is a good one because it's actually a waterproof one. I use a black felt pen, I circle the things I want to see and then when I get home I just swipe it clean and I start again. Great invention. Right, there's something down here I want to see and I'm going to take you guys along with me as well if I can find it.
I was trying to find the entrance to an Ibis Styles hotel, but as far as I could see through the window it might have been closed. Oh well. Ibis Styles is one of my favorite hotel brands.
Every property is different, every property is unique. They tend to either reflect the city or town they're in, or the culture from that city or town. For example, in Glasgow we have two Ibis Styles - one down at George Square and that is a Glasgow theme - everything which is Glaswegian - and the other one on Waterloo street is actually a Scottish music theme. So while I'm here in Paris I'm going to see how many of these Ibis Styles I can find here.
Gee, I wonder how many will have the Eiffel Tower? We'll soon find out. I'm also trying to find Gare Austerlitz which I've never been to and it's one of the main terminal stations in Paris. It's just a little bit tricky to get to because you have to cross this very busy road then the river and then find you away from there, but I think it's in that direction. I can feel myself dropping down to 45% already.
I think I need another coffee, but first let's have a look at this. I hadn't realised Austerlitz was such a small station. It's mainly Orleans services leave from here. Nothing much else and there's no place open selling coffee. Oh no! We're down to about 40%. Unfortunately that Ibis Styles has a security door.
All I want to do is just stroll in have a look around the reception area and then head out again because that's where all the unique designs are. I'm going to keep looking. A soon as I find an Ibis Styles where you can just wander in and have a look around I'll show you. In the meantime I think I'm down to about 25%. I need coffee badly.
Okay, we're down to 20% now we're starting to get critical. I need caffeine. I was just thinking why am I so tired? I'm so tired because this morning we arrived at the Bercy Coach Station and I thought "Wow we arrived one hour early!" No, no.
I just forgot to put my watch forward when we crossed the channel. Yes. But apart from getting next to no sleep last night on that coach, the night before that before I left Edinburgh I think I only got about 3 or 4 hours sleep so it's kind of catching up on me now. Right we're down to 19%. Caffeine! And that was another Ibis Styles. Here in France, the home of the Accor chain, they're not very inventive, so it must be just a British thing.
I'm disappointed about that. I thought they were all weird and wacky inside obviously not. Okay here we are at Gare de l'Est.
If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen me broadcasting live from Gare de l'Est and that was just along there a few moments ago. If you are on Facebook, if you're on Twitter or if you're on Instagram, please follow me, because you do get updates as to where I am, what I'm up to and just general extra nonsense. I also feel as I'm just wasting time here because I can check in at my hotel at 2pm. It's currently five minutes to one. Once I get to the hotel I will be having a shower.
I know I shouldn't lie down, but I will probably lie down. Hopefully I won't sleep for too long. Famous last words, but I need to rest. Right, let's go for a little wander around the Gare de l'Est then we'll go up to Gare du Nord. Do you ever find that you recognise a place and you know you've been here before, but you can't remember why you came here? Well I've just spent the last 10 minutes standing here trying to think why I've been here before and I remember.
It was about 12-13 years ago. It was a travel agent's trip on Eurostar from St. Pancras to Gare du Nord. That's where our coach was, down the bottom here, and we had to cart all of our luggage from the station down there. I do remember that trip very well because up at Gare du Nord I managed to bump into Donald Sutherland - one of my movie heroes and I got to share his hand. Right, Gare du Nord... straight ahead. My favorite European train station? You bet! One of the many things I like about Gare du Nord is the fact that most of the platforms aren't blocked by turnstyles...
... although I think that is coming. I just went for a walk up to the RER - the regional trains - and there's a lot of work going on. There's some 2024 project in place and I think it's only a matter of time before these are sort of close to the public unless you have a ticket. That's a shame. Well, this is my hotel and I'm going in there for a well-deserved shower. It might not be the classiest of places, but it's the cheapest.
Nada, nil, zero, zilch, FOC [free of charge]. How is that possible? Well my number one travel hack is to use an American Express card. Every purchase I can goes through that card and I earn Avios. I then convert the Avios to Nectar points and using the affiliation link between Nectar and booking.com I can book my accommodation free of charge.
Boom! All right, let's get checked in. So ladies and gentlemen, the Altona Hotel. I think I'm going to enjoy this.
What, don't believe me? Oh I'm gonna enjoy it. First things first. I'm gonna go for a shower. Well I'll tell you that feels better. Oh yes! Right, would you like a guided tour of the room? This will take no more than 10 seconds.
One wall mounted TV, one Kettle with coffee (sorted!) cupboard, another cupboard, fan for those warm Parisian days in summer, wardrobe with very small safe - you couldn't put much in there you? Couldn't hide a laptop in there that's for sure. One double bed... ... and you even get a bathroom as well. Are you ready for this? Well it's a bathroom. It's a shower room. One shower which I have used, spotlessly clean as well I must say. One toilet...
It's actually not bad. ... oh and I forgot the view. You get what you pay for and this hotel for me was free of charge. Are you ready for this? So against my better judgment I'm going to go for 40 winks.
Make that 45 winks. I think I deserve it, and then I'll go out and get something to eat and I'll take you guys along with me as well. I am on the hunt for a Paris souvenir bottle opener because my son needs one apparently and I saw one at Gare du Nord but they were just cheap junk and there were about €6 and they looked as if they would bend without any effort so we'll go on a bit of a hunt tonight, but 45 winks and I'll see you this evening.
I lay in bed for about three hours. I generally don't sleep during the day, but it was at least enough to recharge the batteries up to about 75%. While I was lying there an almighty thunderstorm passed, oh and I'm so glad I didn't go to Reims because I would have gotten absolutely drenched there. Being a Sunday there would be no galleries, no museums, no public buildings opened and I would have been exposed to the elements. I would have gotten absolutely soaked so sometimes these difficult decisions work out the best.
Right I'm going to try and get some snacks for the room tonight which could be a challenge because it is just gone 6pm on a Sunday. I think some of these shops close early, and then I'm going to go and try and find something to eat. Our mission was a success. For some reason every time I'm in Paris I get the desire to have a pizza. It's like being in Rome and wanting escargot.
It just doesn't make any sense at all. I think it's because most of the menus I can't read, but if you have a pizza menu you can buff your way through it. Speaking of which, let's find a place where I can get a pizza. It's amazing how a pizza washed down by a local beer, on this occasion Kronenbourg, helps lift the spirits.
I'm at about 95% at the moment so I'm doing pretty well. Right I'm off to Sacre Coeur, because the Sacre Coeur is one of these things I always do when I'm in Paris and also there's a whole lot of tourist shops and I should be able to pick up a good bottle opener for my son. A small bookcase in a public park! That wouldn't last five minutes anywhere else, but here in Paris... Yeah, why not? Right, Sacre Coeur that direction. I can see it. The Gare du Nord and the Sacre Coeur are my two 'must visits' when I'm in Paris.
Do you go to a place on a regular basis and you have a must-see... if so let me know what they are notes below. Maybe it's just me, but I just I've always been like this. When I lived in Australia if I was ever in Adelaide I had to ride the Glenelg tram.
If I was in Melbourne of course I had to go to Geelong for the football. I also had to go to St Kilda. I don't know why. Let me know in the notes below if you have regular places you must visit every time you visit a city or a town. This is my this is my number one attraction in Paris.
It's 9pm, so it's time to head back to the hotel. It's an early night, but I need a decent sleep. I thought today might have been a wasted day but no. I managed to see a few of the sights and I'm glad you guys came along with me as well and in fact I'm very glad I didn't try going to Reims anyway because I would have been absolutely shattered. Anyway guys thanks so much for coming along with me and I'll see you next time.