Pins in a map: Paris

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Tom Mason

Last weekend we went to Paris, to see the city together and spend some time with my brother before he moves country.

I like to get the Eurostar over, but this time we flew – and it’s so, so quick. You’re barely up in the air before the landing sequence starts. Anyway, we got to see Charles de Gaulle, which is probably my favourite airport (it’s incredibly stylish, as airports go) and because pollution has been so bad recently, all public transport was free!

We went to a few touristy spots, like Notre Dame, and visited the Louvre and the Museum of Natural History. We also went to the aquarium, which was fun.

Tom Mason

But I really just love wandering around Paris. The buildings are so elegant; it’s a place where history and modernity seem seamlessly integrated.

Tom MasonThe Shakespeare bookshop was a particularly good find. It’s set in a quirky old building, and comes complete with piano, reading room, writers-in-residence, and a handsome cat.

It’s the weird bits of cities that I am drawn to; the slight variation in symbols (French stick figures have smaller heads), funny restaurant and street names (Crossaint Road), quirky graffiti. It’s also wheelbarrows full of ducks.

Tom Mason

Speaking French again was…interesting. It’s been a while since I’ve had to use any, a long time since I studied it, and several times Spanish words tried to override my brain instead. ‘Por favor’ is far easier to say than ‘Sil vous plait’, but as my brother pointed out, no-one in Paris says please anyway!

My favourite thing by far (apart from saying goodbye to Dan’s gorgeous flat) was hiring bikes and cycling up past the Eiffel Tower. The Velib scheme is Paris’s answer to London’s Boris Bikes, and although slightly more complicated to set up, are just as nice to ride.

Cycling on the right side of the road was new though!

Tom Mason

I’m always happy to visit Paris, and look forward to going back.