Paris to Athens D4: Going out with a bang

In 2013 I travelled from Paris to Athens, via Italy & Turkey, a trip of a lifetime that I took with my best friend. I’ll share the highlights, occasional chaos & many surprises that we experienced during our trip, as well as plenty of useful tips for travellers undertaking a similar adventure. You can read our full itinerary here.

Paris To Athens Travel Journal |

{Previous} Day 3: Icons & Underdogs

Our last day in Paris came too quickly. It was another cold, wet day in Paris but the grey skies only added to the city’s charm – most of the time. Trust Paris to always look good, even in the rain.

We ate breakfast at Maison Privat again, huddled under the awnings to avoid getting wet. We were starting our day outdoors, visiting Montmartre to see Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge, so we bought umbrellas. They broke by the time we’d reached the Pigalle Metro stop! Luckily, the next umbrellas that we bought proved much sturdier.

Maison Privat, Paris | Dog in Paris Cafe

Sacre Coeur

There was a mass on during our visit to Sacre Coeur. I’m not particularly religious, but the choir sings so beautifully, amplified by the church’s domes, that I’d happily sit through a service just to hear them sing. Photos aren’t allowed in Sacre Coeur unfortunately, and I don’t think it’s right to photograph a sacred space when you’re specifically asked not to. Luckily the beautiful interior of the basilica is something I’ll never forget. I visit it every time I’m in Paris, it’s one of my favourite buildings – inside and out!

Sacre Coeur, Paris on a rainy day

Sacre Coeur, Paris

Montmartre, Paris |

When you visit Sacre Coeur, don’t just take it at face value! I think some of the most beautiful perspectives of the building are from the sides or back of the basilica.

Sacre Coeur in the rain

Montmartre & the Moulin Rouge

It was still raining when we left, so we walked around the back and found some stairs leading to the Montmartre Artists Markets & some cafes. I bought a small painting at the markets (paintings & posters are my favourite souvenirs!) before we went into cosy Cafe Richard for a hot chocolate.

Paris-Montmartre-Artist-Markets-Painting cafes-in-montmartre-paris

This part of Montmartre is picture-perfect, but you have to be careful not to get too carried away in your daydreams because the area is rife with pickpockets.

montmartre-paris montmartre paris Au Lapin Agile Montmartre

After this, we got pretty lost in the back streets. I was sure that if we just kept walking downhill we’d find the main street and the Metro stations, but when a local offered us some help we found that we were nowhere near where we thought we were!

montmarte paris

We found the Moulin Rouge, in the heart of the seedy red light district and then found a Metro.

Moulin Rouge Montmartre Paris Montmartre Metro Paris

We caught our metro, but when we tried to change trains at the next stop, we got on an RER train going in the wrong direction! Before we knew it we were in the outskirts of Paris. It was a pretty long wait for the next train, but the beautiful thing about being on holiday is that we didn’t really need to be anywhere.

I took a photo here, at this random station on the outskirts, because I knew that otherwise I’d forget this little misadventure – it obviously wasn’t a trip highlight, but I think it’s good to remember for its ups and downs. And it’s fun to laugh at your mistakes later!

Paris |

The Eiffel Tower

It was my third visit to the Eiffel Tower, and while I probably won’t return on my next trip to Paris because it does take a lot of time, the view is always worth the waiting around.

Eiffel Tower View Rainy Day

In this picture, you can see down the Champs du Mars, a former military training ground, the gold dome of Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried, and in the distance, the black sheep of Paris – Tour Montparnasse. It’s an important building, because Parisians felt it was such a blight on their city’s skyline that they kicked up such a stink that laws were passed to prevent buildings more than six stories high within the city limits. Not only does it help preserve beautiful historic buildings and the city’s historic skyline, but it stops the Eiffel Tower being dwarfed by skyscrapers – preserving it’s striking beauty for generations to come.

Eiffel Tower Elevator Paris |

Passy, 16eme

Our next mission was to find a patisserie. I wanted to re-visit the Victor Hugo neighbourhood in the 16th, where I stayed on my first visit to Paris. I wanted to visit because it’s so beautiful and calm, but also because Mum wanted me to take a photo of the statue of Victor Hugo in the Metro station of the same name. Unfortunately, the statue wasn’t there, and most of the shops were closed. It wasn’t a total waste because we eventually found food, and the Victor Hugo metro station is still very charming, with or without the author’s statue. I love how even the advertisements are made to be more beautiful with gilt frames, like in the Louvre.

Victor Hugo Metro Paris Patisserie in Paris

Back at our hotel, we enjoyed our feast of pastries, tarts and camembert. Warm and dry, and with an irresponsible amount of indulgent French food, I couldn’t have been happier.

Pastries & Cheese in Paris

We must have spent the rest of the afternoon in a sugar-induced daze, because I don’t remember anything until it was time for a last-minute dinner in the Latin Quarter.

Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter has a labyrinth-like maze of restaurants, each one cheaper than the last. It’s not hard to get a three-course meal for 13 euro, which is perfect when you’re on a budget! It can be tricky to find, but just wait until I find a dodgy looking alleyway near Notre Dame, which inevitably leads me to the Latin Quarter. It doesn’t look like much, and it’s a testament to Chloe’s faith in me that she followed me down this alley – but our stomachs and wallets were rewarded.

Finding the Latin Quarter Paris Latin Quarter Alleyway Paris

Le Lido

Our final activity in Paris was a show at The Lido. Unlike the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, the Lido doesn’t stand out on the Champs-Elysee.

The Lido Champs Elysee Paris

We were caught in the rain on our way to the Lido, so our hair was pretty sorry looking by the time we arrived. We had decent seats, beside a pair of sisters who had their feet on their seats the whole time & racked up an enormous bill, ordering drink after drink (perhaps why they were allowed to have their feet on the seats?). The show was spectacular! I seriously enjoyed it much more than the Moulin Rouge. I loved every minute of it!

Read more: Skip the Moulin Rouge, See the Lido.

Best friends in Paris Lido Paris Lido Paris

It was the perfect ending to a four days in Paris. I saw familiar things and new things, and it only made me love Paris more. I can’t wait for my next visit! Next stop, Avignon!

Read all the posts from this travel journal series here.

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