Thursday, July 30, 2015

Twenty-four hours in Paris

French Village Diaries 24 hours in Paris Villa Modigliani Montparnasse
Villa Modigliani, Paris

Our recent trip to Paris might have been a quick one, but it was almost perfect and as five years have passed since I was last there, it made me realise that five years is too many years to stay away from Paris.

Adrian often arrives at Montparnasse station when travelling for work and pops above ground for a coffee, before making his way by Metro to Gard du Nord for either the Eurostar to UK or the Thalys to Belgium. It is an area of Paris he knows well, but one I don’t think I had ever been to until last weekend. He booked us a night at the Villa Modigliani that has a private, secure underground car park, but is also an easy walk to Montparnasse station and two Metro stops. As we drove, having the car park was very handy, but I would say small cars would be preferable as it was quite scary getting the Mondeo around the tight corners.

French Village Diaries 24 hours in Paris Villa Modigliani Montparnasse
The cosiest shower
The hotel is hidden in a secluded courtyard with a pretty terrace to the front and back that had the weather been better we would probably have made good use of. Our room in the eaves was clean, cosy and comfortable, and we both slept really well. It was surprisingly quiet for a room in a city; even with the window open on Monday morning, when Paris was busy, the courtyard muffled the street noise nicely. The bathroom in the eaves meant the shower was rather limited for space unless you were short like me, but for us it was a rare luxury to have a bath. 

Our rooftop views (sadly not of the Eiffel Tower which we only glimpsed from the car on the drive in) were of real Parisian life through open kitchen windows; the young man washing his dishes in his modern fitted kitchen, the elderly lady making her dinner in her rather dated kitchen, the young couple preparing for a night out. There were also apartments with huge picture windows leading to flower decked roof terraces, empty of life as the weather wasn’t really alfresco weather.

French Village Diaries 24 hours in Paris Villa Modigliani Montparnasse
Rooftops of Paris
After our chilly but fun afternoon watching the Tour de France on Rue de Rivoli we took the Metro back to Montparnasse and on the walk to the hotel we found a small family run Italian restaurant, which looked just perfect for our evening meal. After a quick freshen up at the hotel we were seated in La Mamma (by the Italian mother) enjoying an aperitif and watching the pizza chef (her son) working away in full view of the diners. The pizzas were delicious, the service was friendly and full of smiles and the prices were not too dissimilar to our rural restaurant prices. 

French Village Diaries 24 hours in Paris Villa Modigliani Montparnasse
Paris Metro

The staff at the Villa Modigliani were all very friendly and I would have no hesitation in going back or recommending the hotel, the only negative I can think of was that their breakfast is priced at 16€ per person, but Paris isn’t short of cafés serving coffee and croissants. We chose an open fronted window seat at Adrian’s regular café when he is making the trek from Montparnasse to Gard du Nord. Having him as my own personal tour guide meant I looked far less like the lost tourist I would have been without him. Two café alongés and two croissants for 8.20€ was much more within our budget and the bonus was that we got to walk there and watch a bit of early morning life on the way. It was quite the sensory overload for me from the smell of the boulangeries, the beauty in the stonework and the balconies as well as the people. I love my quiet village life, but Paris gave me tourists in colourful rain coats with wheelie suitcases, a lady in high heels daintily peddling a hire bike to work, a suited and chic scarf-wrapped man on a moped and even a smart lady scooting her way along the pavement, as well as the sleepers curled up in the doorways. I am also happy to report we didn’t meet one surly Parisian; even the waiter in the café at breakfast smiled and served us without delay.

French Village Diaries 24 hours in Paris Villa Modigliani Montparnasse
Breakfast in Paris

Paris, thank you for an almost perfect 24 hours. I will be back and I promise not to leave it so long next time, but please can we have better weather next time, thank you.

This is not a sponsored post, but should you wish to stay at Villa Modigliani or eat at La Mamma here is where you can find them:
Villa Modigliani, 13 rue Delambre, 75014 Paris 01 56 54 20 00
La Mamma Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, 46 rue Vavin, 75006 Paris 01 46 33 17 92

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