I had always dreamt of going to Paris and seeing the Eiffel tower and wondering the streets of the city of love. As a single 30 something hip Muslim chick I decided to cross the channel and visit Paris. I booked a trip to Paris via the Eurostar.
I didn’t realise how easy it was to travel to Paris by the Eurostar. I was in the centre of Paris in just over two hours. As soon as I stepped of the train I knew I was in a foreign land. Language has never been my strong point and French with all its big words was alien to me. I was however able to muster bonjouir and ca va. That’s French for hello and how are you. I know, I could totally be a French Parisian chick for the day.
The two hour journey had made me quite hungry. I could murder a chicken burger. Wait a minute, could I get halal food in Paris? Of course, I can, as Paris is home to over 3 million Muslims. But, where is the nearest Halal Dixy’s. Damn it. A chocolate croissant and coffee would have to do. There goes my diet.
Armed with my tasty croissant, backpack and Lonely Planet Guide I decided to go exploring. But, not before I checked into my hotel. I had booked a cosy double room for one in the trendy Montmartre area which was close to the Moulin Rouge.
Once, I had checked into my room and whinged about having to pay a city tax of two euros I climbed the thousand steps to my room. Once, in my room I realised that the room was just a cosy double. There was not enough room to swing a cat in here. The French sure believe in minimalistic furnishing. The bathroom was tiny, so I better go easy on all the croissants.
I walked along the streets in the hip Montmartre area and took pictures outside the Moulin Rouge. I climbed the thousand and thousand steps, up the hill to see the view from the top of Sacra Coeur. The view was pretty amazing though and totally worth it. I decided to take a little break and have some lunch. My French wasn’t great so I wasn’t sure how I would manage to order. I used good old Google translate to order an onion soup, quiche with legumes (vegetables) and jus d ’orange (Orange juice). I have to say the food in France is pretty damn good.
I checked my itinerary and chose to visit the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower during the day and night. During the day the Eiffel Tower looked like a huge metal tower. I stupidly decided to walk to the top of the tower to save some pennies. Folks, do your legs a favour and pay to use the lift. At night the Eiffel Tower sparkled and looked amazing. I took a boat trip along the river Seine and fell in love with Paris at that moment.
I walked along the Champs Elyse and admired the huge boutiques such as Dior and Chanel. My budget didn’t quite stretch to a designer handbag. I could afford another pastry and coffee. I found a delightful Boulangerie and gasped at the amazing pastries, I was in pastry heaven. Unable to muster any French I just pointed to the cake I wanted and held my finger up so she knew I only wanted one.
I was desperately seeking some halal food and found a greasy looking place with a halal sign. I ordered poulet and pomme frites (chicken and fries) and sat inside and people watched. I spotted several Muslim men and women. I noticed both old and young women sporting a hijab and men with beards. They didn’t stand out and seemed to fit into this beautiful city.
Paris is an ideal city to explore alone if you are a female and if you are Muslim it’s totally fine as well. There are plenty of halal places, you just have to look for the halal sign. It’s worth learning some French to help you along the way.
Aurevoir Paris. I will be back again..