Paris (+Milan) – Interrail 2019

With Paris we faced the end of our travels. While it was sad to know this would be our last location on the trip, there really could be no better place to finish than one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The unusual heat that had followed us throughout our trip continued to reach bizarre levels, but it made our visit all the more unique (if a bit sweatier).

The Milan Stopover

Rome to Paris directly would have been an extremely long and tiresome journey to do in one day, and after our Vienna-Rome experience I’m glad we decided against another wildly long-distance travel day. Instead, we took the opportunity to stop off in Milan for the night, and fit in one more city into our trip. 

Getting There — Fittingly, our shortest stay also allowed us our shortest journey; just three hours direct from Roma Termini to Milano Centrale on a high-speed train.

Accommodation — We spent our only night in Milan in a four bed dorm at the Atmos Luxe Hotel, a small but stylish hostel a bit far out from the city centre but close to the metro. There was a complimentary breakfast in the morning which made it all the easier to get ourselves up together for the next journey.

Highlights

  • Duomo Cathedral — Both the spectacular views from the terrace and the stunning stained-glass windows make the €13 ticket price for this attraction worth it. The excavations below the plaza are also fascinating, demonstrating the sheer depth of its history. The biblical scenes depicted in the three largest windows are a patchwork masterpiece. 
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II — Just the walk through this temple of designer clothing makes you feel a little bit fancier, even if (like me) your bank account hurts just looking at the windows.
  • Berbere — This chain pizza restaurant was exactly what we needed after a day of walking around in the heat. The ‘Nduja pizza was delicious, and the fun pop-art decor gave the place a bright and welcoming vibe. 

On to Paris — Getting There

We had a late morning train out of Milan so that we could take our time getting to the station. There were three changes, one at Basel SBB and another at Strasbourg. This was one of the more stressful and complicated journeys, not helped by the delay out of Milan through Switzerland. However, the delays were made a bit less painful by the amazing surroundings of the Swiss Alps. Though we had seen some incredible things from the windows of trains, this was certainly the prettiest journey of them all.

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Accommodation

We stayed in an AirBnB apartment just a road over from the Champs de Mars and Eiffel Tower. It felt quintessentially Parisienne, and to match that feeling we walked down to the local boulangerie every morning to get a fresh croissant and sit in the park as the sun rose. Where else to be a romantic than the city of love?

Highlights

A confession: I am not a lover of heights. In fact, I rather dislike them. So the prospect of going up the Eiffel Tower was not one which appealed greatly to me. It seems like a good thing to do if that’s what you’re into, but it does not feature on my list of interesting things to try. 

The Louvre Nintendo 3DS Tour — Yes it’s a little odd and very touristy, but the device-led tour of the Louvre was more or less just a glorified audio tour. The extra insight into the paintings and sculptures made the experience much more impactful, and the interactive map feature helped us navigate around the labyrinthine museum.

Montmartre and Macarons — It took us a little longer to get to this district on the metro but it was entirely worth it for the phenomenal view of Paris. The Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge are essential sightseeing destinations, being emblems of the rich history of the city. On the way back down the hill from the Sacre Coeur you can find the Musée du Chocolat, which features some extraordinary chocolate sculptures alongside a selection of sweets you can buy for yourself, including beautifully crafted macarons. The pistachio flavour in particular was delicious.

Siempre — On our final night of the trip we decided to splash out and go for a proper sit-down meal to celebrate. After roaming the streets for a short while we found Siempre, a tapas restaurant and cocktail bar located on the Avenue de la Motte Picquet. Through my broken French we managed to order some cocktails and what can only be described as the best charcuterie board I have ever seen or tasted from in my life.

And thus our trip drew to a close. The next day we got on the Eurostar from Gare du Nord and made our way back to St. Pancreas. It was perhaps one of the best and most surreal times of my life. The issue now is that I want to do it all over again. 

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