Being a creative person, I like to leave a few weekends free for impulsive trips away. Straight after work on Friday, we loaded up a Range Rover and took a road trip down to Paris to watch the Euro 2016 final. The whole weekend was full of great food, drinks, culture and of course football! We were hoping for a French win as this would’ve sparked a huge city-wide party, but it seems the French weren’t feeling up to the occasion this time round. Nevertheless, here are a few bits that will stay with me from our adventure!
1 – All Eddie Stobart drivers must honk
…or so rumour has it. Whether this is true, or just standard practice for all lorry drivers we’ll never know.
But it worked for us! Cracking start to the road trip.
2 – You can be late for the Euro tunnel
On our approach to the entrance to the Euro tunnel we noticed somebody driving the complete wrong direction towards us so had to take a detour into one of the disabled lanes. Little did we know this added an extra 5 mins to the journey that we didn’t anticipate, so unfortunately we missed our designated slot.
Luckily however, you can get on any train within an hour of the one you are scheduled to go on! And with three leaving per hour, you’ll never have to wait too long.
3 – The Arc du Triomphe is a dangerous place
Apparently this is one of the only places in France where your car insurance doesn’t cover you. If you aren’t aware, it’s a huge roundabout with about 8 lanes of traffic. No lane markings, or rules on who has right of way. Just pure carnage.
4 – Alcohol is incredibly expensive, so make it last
You can expect to pay between €8-12 euros per pint, or around €17 for a stein. We stuck to the steins.
5 – Everywhere you look, there’s beautiful architecture
We managed to see the Arc du Triomphe, Notre Dame, The Louvre and The Eiffel Tower all in a short space of time. All were pretty spectacular, and looked even better with the 30 degree sun shining down on them with blue skies.
6 – The cheese fondues are to die for
If you’ve never had a cheese fondue before, you seriously haven’t lived. I usually get at least one when I go on ski trips, but couldn’t say no to one in a little café in Notre Dame.
7 – The French aren’t afraid to belt out their national anthem
Being amongst a crowd of french fans for the match was awesome. As the match went on more and more people turned up outside the bar we were at until it turned into a full blown street party. The banter between the Portuguese and French was second to none. When Cristiano Ronaldo had to be stretchered off, the crowd erupted into the chant ‘Alors hopital’ – basically meaning get him to hospital… Brilliant. Allez les bleu!
8 – The Portuguese know how to throw a party
Our apartment was pretty much a 3o second walk from the Arc du Triomphe and on our way back we noticed the Portuguese fans were having an absolute blast. For about 4 hours straight fans were running and driving around the Arc in circles, setting off fireworks, singing and parading the flags with pride. At one point they had a game of ‘all pile on’ inside a pickup truck that was blasting out tunes… Hilarious to watch, despite being slightly on the dangerous side!
9 – Drinking culture in France is way more relaxed than British
I wasn’t exposed to one bit of negativity between fans, and with a mixture of French, German, Portuguese and English it was a joy to experience such unity and everyone wanting to have fun. If it was England it’d be a very different story, binge drinking just isn’t as big a thing in France as it is in the UK. This might be down to the price of alcohol though!
10 – There are absolute gems to be found on Airbnb
There were 4 of us on the trip and we managed to grab a 2 bedroom Airbnb in the centre for £35pp/pn. The host was awesome and offered up rafts of local information on where to eat, drink and watch the match… I’ll definitely be using this more for trips abroad in future.