what to eat
First of all, if you haven't watched Dexter's Laboratory growing up, then the title of this article will not mean the same thing to you and I.
I can now assure you, that apart from the fact that me and my best friend had cheese omelettes every morning (and sometimes for lunch) during our weekend away in Paris (and that it's actually omelette au fromage) there's nothing else about eggs or cheese in this article. Sorry guys. However, in terms of food places, I have yet to find a place that I didn't enjoy eating at. From what I can remember, my favourite places were La Fumoir where we had nice late night cocktails and brunch and wine at L'Escargot Montorgueil. Street food is quite common near the Latin Quarters and if in doubt, walking into any of the usual Brasseries just about anywhere in Paris, should not leave you disappointed, or hungry.
Those of you who want to sight-see and eat and drink fine things all in one go? Try Bustronome. As per its name, you're sat inside a double-decker Bus, eating and drinking a number of courses of food, with paired-wine, if desired. It's pretty cool, and worth booking way in advance.
GETTING TO paris
I first went to Paris in 1992 and was the most excited child with the full collection of Aladdin stickers at Disneyland in my sticker collection, when the Disney cartoon had been released. This is only a few years before the Eurostar started running in 1994, so it was a complicated journey, that I thankfully don't remember much of. Disneyland Paris is a train ride away from Paris at Marne-la-Vallee.
The next time I booked a trip to Paris, a friend and I leisurely rocked up just ten minutes before the departure time, at which point we experienced the expression of complete disbelief on the Eurostar Officer's face, at the gates. We could tell that he thought we weren't very bright. We eventually made it to Paris in the evening, managing to get some sympathy from the Eurostar staff at the ticket counters at London and Lille, luckily at no further cost.
Ever since, trips to Paris from London feel no less strenuous than a train to Bath or Bristol. The fact that I don't need to go through any airport security screening and I can carry FULL SIZE body lotion and shampoo, are good enough reasons to go to Paris for a weekend break (as long as I am there 30-40 mins before) instead of somewhere else in Europe. I also worked for a French company which was kind enough to allow their employees to travel on Business Premier, which means you can in fact miss trains and get the earlier or later ones as you please. Once, I missed a return train to London on purpose as I wanted to check out the lounge. When I say 'check out' I mean go a bit crazy with the little french bites and unlimited french wine, which was followed up by champagne in the train, once I got on it. The 'cabin crew' equivalent of planes would give me a wider smile every time I asked for another glass, in a funny way. I wouldn't say the seats in Business Premier were significantly better than Economy and I wouldn't really pay for a Business Class ticket myself, but it is a 'stress-free' option for those who can afford the prices, or work for companies who can.
Eiffel Tower is often the first thing that comes to mind if we were to mention Paris to anyone, whether it's because of its historical significance of the French Revolution, or because it's a 300m tall metallic cone in the middle of the Capital of France, or the fact that it's the most common and recognisable souvenir everyone brings back for loved ones (please don't bring me any more... I have five, in all varieties. One has little lights on it too). I do like the tower and I find the flickering lights display in the evenings quite endearing. During a work trip to Paris, I had to travel on my own so I had an evening to myself and chose to sit in a boat restaurant by the river, read a book with a glass of red wine and watched the lights every now and then, while the sun went down. The waitress was bemused by my excitement, but that didn't affect my mood.
You will also, inevitably end up going past the Arc de Triomphe, at the end of Champs-Elysees and the Notre Dame cathedral, a gothic church is within walking distance, and yes it is worth going inside. For art-lovers and those who actually think Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa was worth being painted, you can go inside the Louvre. If not, then you can admire some of the Roman sculptures and / or take the usual tourist holding the tip of the pyramid - photo and leave it there.
exploring the city of paris
Paris Metro transport is not the most exciting to look at (it's quite boxy, metallic and old), but it is also very affordable and if you're lucky, you may get a random performance from some musicians, one often has an accordion, a harmonica, and they walk through the carriages. You could even experience a puppet show behind a makeshift curtain. These things make me smile every time, because it's almost impossible to expect a puppet show in the London Underground trains. Even just the thought of how Londoners would react...
Walking around Paris is probably my favourite way to explore the city, as you can pop into random boutique clothes or accessory shops, designer perfume shops, shoe shops, you name it. My friend showed me around Le Marais, which is now my favourite part of Paris. It feels local and perfect for some unique shopping, far from the usual high-street experience or the 'Oxford Circus' vibe you get at Champs-ElysÃ©es. If in doubt, it's worth checking out the 'Paris Pass', even if it's to have a checklist of what you shouldn't miss.
Working in Paris' financial district would require you to go to La DÃ©fense, which is best to go to using the RER or the Metro. Do not take a taxi there, unless you would like to kill some time, going round in circles under the tunnel. It's a maze. The area has been through a couple of deserted periods during times of crisis, but in 2009 it started to take more of a vibrant shape.
where to stay in paris
This really depends on you. I enjoyed staying close to Saint-Lambert, not far from the Eiffel Tower, but for the latest trip, my friend booked a crazy hotel for us (CitizenM Hotel) near Gare de Lyon, which was an easy walk to Le Marais, Notre Dame, etc. Our hotel was very 'Jetsons' and had disco lights for the room including special lighting for the shower, with settings ranging from Romantic to Party mode.
There's another hotel that I encountered, which was very quiet, and after a few cocktails I was convinced it was haunted: L'Hotel. It's quite famous, so I heard and the bar-tender used to work in a number of bars in London, so was quite the pro, when it came to cocktail-making. I'm not sure he enjoyed my lack of gin / vodka / spirit knowledge and my no-idea-what-I-want-to-drink responses to his 'Fun Quiz', but he did make some delicious drinks, probably costing around 20 Euros each. Apart from the haunted-vibes, it is worth checking out. I guess.
And that's my overall view of Paris. In terms of people, I personally think Parisians are quite friendly... or at least as friendly as Londoners! Almost everyone speaks perfect English, so no, it's not worth trying to practice your rubbish French from tenth-grade...