A Day in Le Touquet, France

Le Touquet Northern France

Since backpacking over 4 years ago, I don’t get to travel as much as I used to. While I could blame a mortgage and my full-time job tying me down, travel is one of the reasons I love my job. I get to talk about it, think about it and, sometimes, do it.

There’s been a few work trips I’ve skipped the opportunity to share on here, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I should let my work and blog mix. But some places, and some adventures, are too good not to share and Le Touquet is one of them.

Located in northern France, it wasn’t somewhere I had heard of before starting my job. (So it’s still quite a hidden gem, probably to people my age.) It was its full name that began to entice me;¬†Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, Paris by the sea. (Paris by the sea?!) ūüėć

What to do in Le Touquet

My one and only time in Le Touquet isn’t going to be the ultimate guide to the town. (Hopefully I can build up to that over a few visits!) I had a pretty awesome day though and I wanted to share a few of things I did. (Despite it being late by a few months now!)

Bike tour around Le Touquet

Although it’s called Paris by the sea, it doesn’t compare in size to the capital and getting around is easy; especially on two wheels. And hey,¬†bike tours are nothing to be sniffed at! There’s even a celebrity pull to going on a bike tour here as Emmanuel Macron done the same thing in the same town. (Possibly not when he was president, though…)

Emmanuel Macron is no stranger to Le Touquet either, his wife, Brigitte, in fact owns her own apartment here. (!)

What to see in Le Touquet

Much of Le Touquet was built in the 1920’s¬†(from what I remember of the bike tour) and that jazz/golden age vibe still survives today, which means art deco architecture can be found everywhere.

The Westminster Hotel¬†(H√ītel Barri√®re Le Westminster) is a marvel of the era and again attracted some notable guests. Including; Winston Churchill, Sean Connery, Ian Fleming, Edith Piaf and Mae West.

Hotel Westminster in Le Touquet

Hotel Westminster restaurant in Le Touquet

I lucked out in getting to stay here (it’s quite luxurious and I doubt my travel expenses would cover it) but staff were happy for us to have a little look around. If I were to come back to Le Touquet then pretending to be a guest by having a drink at the bar, or dinner in the restaurant, would definitely be on my list. (It feels very Great Gatsby!)

Although I didn’t get time on my day out, Le Touquet’s lighthouse is also said to be worth a trip. Not far from the hotel (oddly it’s not bang on the coast), the views from the top are supposed to be the best in town, reaching out to see the surrounding countryside on clear days too. And so, continuing on my imaginary return trip to Le Touquet, I’d also take a slower paced tour around the villas close to here. (As I cycled past them pretty quick on the bike tour!)

Surprisingly, some of the most expensive property in the country can be found in Le Touquet. Of course the south of France would have some eye watering contenders, but what makes these villas special is again their 1920’s flair, built and even named uniquely. It wasn’t until recently that some of these villas were given numbers. (Just imagine if you were the postie here!)

Villa in Le Touquet

Tata Ice Le Touquet

Where to eat in Le Touquet

Le Touquet is also a culinary hotspot in France – again, a fact not many Brits are aware of. It might be thanks to the many aspiring chefs who come to the town to study their expertise, which creates a larger than average group of chefs in the town’s population!

Sadly though I was only here for a day, and there’s only so much you can eat in one day. For a work lunch (or any lunch) however I can recommend BYS’ Restaurant/Bar. Located on the bay of Canche, the sun and tide were out providing stunning views, picture taking predictably ensued, before we settled into this warm and rustic restaurant.

Clearly loved by locals, we bagged one of the last remaining tables and sat down to study the menus (putting my French to the test!). Feeling very relaxing and particularly snug with an open fireplace, it still had a sophisticated ambiance. I ordered the steak frites, because, when in France… but there was also a great choice of seafood.

Steak and chips in France

All of this chat about Le Touquet and no mention of its beach? Sadly, again my excuse is that I cannot take photos the same time as cycling. We didn’t stop off for long but I can vouch for any opinion to those who praise its seafront. A long (7km) and wide sandy beach, it’s decorated with rainbow coloured beach huts that again create a vintage French elegance. (No wonder Le Touquet is so popular in the summer!)

√† bient√īt…

Just an hour’s drive from Calais, I am making it my goal to not let this be my only visit this year (plus there’s more things what to do in Le Touquet than I had time to fit in). It felt like the perfect day (for a day in March!) and I left Le Touquet with dreams of winning the lottery to buy one of its unique villas I cycled past just hours ago…

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How I Spent 5 Days in Paris

How to spend 5 days in Paris

For a city where its grand boulevards look like they’re straight from all the movies, its caf√© culture is magnetising, to even its rooftops applying¬†to be¬†UNESCO World Heritage recognised; it can be hard to decide how to spend 5 days in Paris.

Lucky for me then as I was preparing for my third visit in the city of love at the end of last month, I thought organisation is key.  I knew what to expect, yet I also knew what I had missed in previous visits too.

Whilst this isn’t exactly a guide on the top¬†things to see in Paris you must see – after all, I’m no Parisienne expert –¬†this is¬†more a personal account to inspire¬†any future trip to the French capital.¬† Which, if the spirit of Paris could speak,¬†then it would tell you too to avoid planning it, discard¬†any Paris¬†itineraries¬†and discover your own secret corners of a city that’ll stay with you for a lifetime.

Day 1

Père Lachaise Cemetary in Paris
P√®re Lachaise Cemetery… peaceful and beautiful
  • Arrival in Paris
  • P√®re Lachaise Cemetery

Being from the UK, I may be flying in, catching a train, boarding a coach or even driving into Paris Рso I can choose to arrive at any time of the day; early or late.

Whatever time you arrive, don’t overdo it on¬†your¬†first day in Paris. Pick a sight that’s a¬†walkable distance from your hotel, hostel or¬†AirBnb.¬† For me, that was¬†P√®re Lachaise Cemetery – an unusual suggestion for those who haven’t been initiated, but probably the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever wandered within.¬† (Even in death, Parisienne’s do it in style.)

The final address of famous artists¬†who’ve ever¬†claimed Paris as¬†their home rest here, such as;¬†Edith Piaf,¬†Fr√©d√©ric Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.¬† After¬†I dipped¬†my toes in some exploring, I ended¬†my day at a caf√© for dinner with a glass of French wine.

“Even the pigeons are dancing, kissing,
going in circles, mounting each other.
Paris is the city of love,
even for the birds.‚ÄĚ

‚Äē¬†Samantha Schutz,¬†I Don’t Want To Be Crazy

Day 2

How to spend 5 days in Paris
Montmartre is a dream…
  • Montmartre
  • Sacr√©-CŇďur
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Galeries Lafayette

Whether¬†you have one day in¬†Paris, or two weeks; missing out on¬†Montmartre would be like missing out on the artistic heart of Paris.¬†¬†Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso all lived here, so this should set the scene.¬† Located on the highest hill in Paris, the¬†Sacr√©-CŇďur¬†also sits¬†here and looks over Paris with¬†incredible views.

After walking this quarter’s charming streets, I headed south of the River Seine¬†to stroll around Jardin du Luxembourg.¬† Dedicated to the children of Paris by Napol√©on, these lush gardens make a good spot for a picnic lunch.¬† (Or just¬†nibbling on some macarons!)

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris
Picnic in Jardin du Luxembourg…

A hidden gem I hadn’t discovered in my previous visits was the rooftop of¬†Galeries Lafayette.¬† The¬†luxurious department store provides a free¬†view and is a sight to see itself.¬† (Even though I couldn’t afford any of the designer names within it…)¬† A stained-glass dome is at the centre of the building and on the clear day when I visited, I snapped some beautiful sunsets of the Paris skyline (Eiffel Tower included) on the top floor; the rooftop.

‚Äú… you‚Äôll have to fall in love at least once in your life, or Paris has failed to rub off on you.‚ÄĚ

‚Äē¬†E.A. Bucchianeri,¬†Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Day 3

Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles
Every corner is a wonder in the Palace of Versailles…
  • The Palace of Versailles

The trip from Paris to Versailles (outside of the city) isn’t that long itself.¬† But the estate is so vast it requires a day, at least, to explore.¬† I’d missed out on Versailles too in my previous visits and so the former home of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette was a must do for me this time.

It really took my breath away; the palace, Hall of Mirrors and gardens as far as the eye can see.¬† I didn’t manage to see it all in the 8 hours I had. So if I were to go again, I’d consider hiring a four-person electric car (like golf carts), get around by the shuttle train or rent a bike.

‚ÄúParis is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness.‚ÄĚ

‚Äē¬†Willa Cather

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Day 4

  • Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris isn’t a necessity when you don’t have kids, but considering it’s the only Disney park in Europe I’d have to travel a long way to find another one.

Sadly, I never experienced the *real* magic by visiting when I was young (a lot younger), but I had a blast on my first visit¬†when I was 16.¬† This time round I¬†particularly noticed how¬†child-focused it really is (which of course it should be).¬† Or¬†I could just be¬†getting older…¬† For anyone who loves Disney though, it’s easily accessible from the city of Paris for a day out.

‚ÄúParis isn‚Äôt a city, it‚Äôs a world.”

‚Äē¬†Lepota L. Cosmo,¬†Love in Paris – Poetic Guide to the Romance of the City

Day 5

Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Perhaps the most well-known roundabout in Paris.
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Champs-√Člys√©es
  • Eiffel Tower

The famous Arc de Triomphe probably comes second on everyone’s Paris to do list (after the Eiffel Tower, bien s√Ľr.)¬† Surprisingly, I’d only glimpsed it from the street previously, but even more surprisingly, when arriving at the back of the queue to climb its 284 steps to the top there wasn’t a long wait.¬† (Most main attractions in Paris have some of the longest queues I’ve seen!)

Now a roundabout, with 12 exits,¬†you can point out a number of other monuments from the¬†sweeping views above it.¬† (Never try to cross the road, there are underground subways.) I was lucky enough to see¬†Sacr√©-CŇďur all the way in Montmartre!

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

One of these 12 exits is probably the most famous street in Paris; Avenue de¬†Champs-√Člys√©es.¬†(Beauty lovers: stop off here for Sephora!)¬† Luckily it’s only 2km long too, so you can stroll past all the designer names that line Paris’s most expensive avenue and reach Place de la Concorde.¬† If you keep going, through Jardin de la Nouvelle France you’ll reach the Louvre,¬†too.

This time instead of getting lost in the artworks at the Louvre (I have done this before and it’s worth a visit), I¬†indulged¬†in a bit of retail therapy before setting sights on true icon of Paris.

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Queues spiral out of control at the Eiffel Tower, but don’t let this put you off.¬† (Learn from my mistakes; book in advance!)¬† The harder decision is to choose which time to venture to the top; during the day or by night.

Paris was more ‘Paris when it drizzles’, rather than ‘Paris when it sizzles’ on my first visit.¬† Meaning the view from the Eiffel Tower, by day, was¬†almost non-existent.¬† By night, it quite literally sparkles, every hour on the hour.¬† Luckily, I went for the latter this time.

How to spend 5 days in Paris

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The next day, sadly I was on the train home.  Have you been to Paris?  What are your favourite things to see and do in Paris?  Share your tips, experiences and in the comments section!

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