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A guide on how to have a relaxing weekend away in Paris

A guide on how to have a relaxing weekend away in Paris

Darren (L) and Charlie (R) next to Fontaines de la Concorde

For many living in London, Paris is an easy go-to for weekend getaways.

It takes next to no time to get there thanks to the Eurostar after all.

My friend and I traveled straight to the French capital after work on a Friday. So as you can imagine, when we both arrived at Kings Cross St Pancras, we were both incredibly tired and sweaty.

Thankfully we had the pleasure of travelling in Business Premier on our journey there.

We were warmly greeted at the door to the Business lounge. It was a relief to be able to find a quiet corner, on a comfy chair, to destress before the weekend away.

Paris is a large city. So you wouldn’t automatically assume it to be a place where you can unwind.

Just as you can in London though, the right places allow you to let go of the stresses of the world.

I’m a big believer in figuring out where you can go to relax – whether you live in a tiny city, or in a big city like Paris.

Our hotel for the weekend was the lovely HOTEL LUMEN Paris Louvre. Aptly named, it’s a mere 10 minutes walk from the notorious Louvre museum.

That Friday night, we caught up on RuPaul’s Drag Race and then headed to bed.

The whole point of the weekend was to relax, after all. So an early night after some easy-viewing television felt appropriate.

So if you are also looking to take a break in Paris, here’s a couple of places or activities I’d recommend.

The Tuileries Garden
The Tuileries Garden | Photo: Charlie Mathers

Tuileries Garden

The early night meant we felt fresh and ready the next morning for exploring the French capital.

We began the day with a stroll through the Tuileries Garden. This is a public garden between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde.

It felt a little bizarre at first when we first got there. It almost seemed like everything was still, as if we were out in the countryside.

The few children were there weren’t running around and screaming, but instead just enjoying a walk with their families.

Everyone was incredibly relaxed, calm, and immediately seemed friendlier than most in London.

The weather was incredible too, which made the morning walk even more glorious that it already was.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn (I do) but Darren pointed out that a couple of people had been checking me out. And that’s how you know it’s a good place to go for a morning walk.

The Louvre Museum and Pyramid
The Louvre | Photo: Charlie Mathers

The Louvre

You can’t go wrong when it comes to The Louvre really, can you?

I would prompt anyone to get a Museum Pass prior to visit. It makes museum visiting far less stressful. There’s none of that faffing around for tickets.

For 48 € ($54.97) you get access to a variety of the city’s museums and sights.

Examples of museums and attractions included: the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Arc De Triomphe and the Panthéon.

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Museums are inherently relaxing.

It’s one of the only times everyone slows down their speed walking!

It’s nice to see everyone taking a breather and enjoying the art.

Of course you have the expected visit to the Mona Lisa. She’s fine. She’s a painting.

If you planned on avoiding crowds during your visit, have a think about whether you really wanna go see her or not though.

But, I must say, it is nice being able to say that you’ve seen the Mona Lisa. It’s a bucket list thing, yaknow?

Darren gazing out of a Louvre window | Photo: Charlie Mathers

Evening activities

Touristing really takes it out of you.

Darren and I returned to our hotel after visiting the sites to take a break, and plan ahead for our evening.

We were very lucky that we’d been provided with a booklet detailing a variety of LGBTI attractions and bars.

London has some incredible LGBTI venues. It doesn’t take a detective however to note that it severely lacks in venues that cater to/target queer people and not just jocks and twinks.

Darren is non-binary and I’m bisexual. So, we both very rarely feel entirely comfortable and welcomed in gay spaces.

I go to LGBTI spaces in hopes of seeing people like me. So I quickly learned to loathe the fact that in London, most ‘queer’ venues are just going to be filled with white gay men.

It’s all well and good saying you’re a ‘queer’ space. But if the only people featured in your marketing are masc, white men… How much do you really care about making people who aren’t masc, white men feel welcomed?

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La Mutinerie

La Mutinerie was everything one could hope for in a queer space and more.

The venue may be a bar at night but during the day it can be everything from a tattoo shop to a library.

They even hold the occasional sex party, which is open to everyone to attend bar cis men. Wouldn’t find that in London, would you?

Feminist organization FiérEs has a stand at each of these events with information about safe sex and ‘everything you need to practice it.’

I must admit, I was very disappointed there wasn’t one the night we were attending. It gives me another reason to return though.

Darren and I could immediately tell just how queer the venue was when we were inside.

To be honest, there wasn’t a single jock or twink in sight.

There were femme people making out. There were people with breasts who felt comfortable enough to take their shirts off and continue dancing.

The DJ didn’t pull a face when someone climbed onto the table next to them to dance. All they did was steady them when they occasionally wobbled.

And to the side of the dance floor, there was a relaxed seating area where people were just sat with a beer having a chat.

If I could replicate the space and bring it to London, I would do it in a heartbeat. I know it’d be a dream for countless other queer people.

La Mutinere Bar | Photo: Charlie Mathers

Rosa Bonheur sur Seine

Would you judge us if I said our highlight of the entire weekend was Sunday brunch? Because it was.

Rosa Bonheur sur Seine is a cute little boat on the Seine. It was really homey and the staff were incredibly lovely.

Also, the spread? Let me tell you.

They had everything covered from bacon and scrambled egg to a ridiculous variety of pastries.

I filled myself up to last until the evening. There is no such thing as self-control when it comes to croissants.

It became obvious pretty quickly that it was a popular spot too.

We were the first ones to arrive but it filled up pretty quickly. A large majority of the customers seemed to be families.

I’m really let down actually that my family didn’t take me for brunch on a boat on a Sunday.

Mom, Dad? Sort your game out. There were people with their dogs. Some people had their grans with them.

It was incredibly cute. I’d go there for brunch every day if I could.

The only downside? Every time a large boat passed, the entire thing would rock slightly. It took me a hot minute to get used to the occasional rock.

Inside the Rosa Bonheur sur Seine | Photo: Charlie Mathers

Happy with my full stomach, Darren and I continued our quest to visit typical Parisian sights.

It took us a while to recover from the amazing meal we’d had. The walk from the restaurant to the next sight certainly helped though.

Paris is one of those cities where you can just wander around and stumble across something.

In our case, we ended up walking past the spot where Princess Diana was killed in the car crash.

A bit of a bummer, yes, but the amount of flowers and picture boards still lying there was truly beautiful.

Arc De Triomphe | Photo: Charlie Mathers

Arc De Triomphe

If you’re not a fan of stairs, you might as well strike the Arc De Triomphe off your list now.

To enjoy the view from the top, you’ve got to climb around 280 stairs.

There are lifts but they are often out of use.

Having visited when I was younger, I was prepared for the impending burning feeling in my thighs. Darren however, was not.

There’s something poetic though about climbing all those stairs for the view at the top.

No picture can really do the awe-inducing view justice.

An especially good time to visit is in the evening, as you get a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower lighting up the night sky.

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Relaxed and refreshed

The last time I visited Paris, it was on a school trip when I was about fifteen. We’d passed Notre Dame on a boat journey but hadn’t actually been able to stop by and go in.

So my heart sung when we had the opportunity to do it this time around.

We even caught a choir! The sound of their voices gave me shivers. I felt like we’d walked into a movie.

Sometimes I wish we could bottle up memories and just open them back up to revisit.

I wish I could make the feeling I got in my heart when the sound of the organ surrounded us last forever.

Paris may be a city but that doesn’t mean you can’t take things slowly.

With the right combination of hotels and visits, a relaxing weekend away is perfectly achievable in the city of love.