The THALYS Train - fast, comfy and a great Service
It is my intent to travel less by plane this year. Whenever I am booking a flight, I am wondering about my carbon footprint. I will cover this subject in another article soon.
So – why not travel more often by train? The high-speed THALYS train which connects various cities in North-Rhine Westphalia with Brussels and Paris is a perfect opportunity. I have not been to both metropolis for years, so here I come, Paris! Fancy red seats are waiting for me in the THALYS Premium Class. Departure from my home town Düsseldorf is at 8.17 a.m., which means time for breakfast! The friendly attendant keeps offering croissants, coffee, and soft drinks. This guy is fluent in English, German and French – chapeau! Contrary to my usual habits I enjoy two croissants, getting ready for the „city of love“. WiFi is free of charge and works smoothly which allows me to work a bit, apart from having a lovely nap. Cologne, Liège, Brussels and … Paris, woohoo! In less than four hours I arrive at the Gare du Nord – merci beaucoup, THALYS!
Photo kindly provided by THALYS
Parisian Charm at the 25hours Hotel Gare du Nord
No cab needed to get to the 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord, which is right across this old traditional station, I literally stumble into the hotel which has just opened its doors. Really looking forward to a bed that has not yet been used too often and all those nice surprises, which you get when staying in the 25hours Hotels. A charming welcome at the reception, stunning spring weather in the middle of February and a weekend in Paris is ahead of me. Great reasons for getting in the best mood you can imagine! I have not practiced my French for some years (apart from a few conversations in Quebec, Canada…) but I am getting back into it quite nicely. And who knows, a glass or two of red wine later on may even help more. First, I drop off my luggage in my room and then off to Montmartre which is just a 15-minute walk away from the 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord.
Room with a French Touch
Considering the usual size of hotel rooms in Paris, this one is pretty large. I even have one of those typical Parisian balconies with a fabulous view on the Gare du Nord and the busy goings-on in front of it. Long red window curtains - oh la la - and a cool hallstand which serves as a closet. Also, the cushions with the label „Lets spend the night together“ are not to miss in a 25hours hotel. Same goes for all the little gadgets and kind of toys in my room. As I said before, the 25hours hotels are a true youth fountain! The almost historic black light switches are a pretty cool contrast, love it!
Crowds in Montmartre and a charming Café
Off to Montmartre with the white basilica Sacré Coeur, overlooking the city. Endless staircases are a good compensation for the missing gym in the hotel. And being outdoor makes much more sense on such a glorious day. And how about the famous Montmartre? Oh well, rather Parisian but also – sorry – a true victim of over-tourism. Jam-packed cafés and restaurants. Tourists, who get their portrait painted and making endless selfies. I quickly take a few photos (no selfies!) of the majestic Sacré Coeur and escape from the crowds. By coincidence, I discover a modern café off the beaten track. Sucre Glace is offering a modern ambiance with cool decor, tasty espresso, and a wonderful veggie quiche (no, I am not looking at all those yummy little cakes…). Now I am ready for more city adventures on this beautiful early spring day.
A wonderful Park to relax
I go downtown by subway – „Metro“ as it is called here. The Tuileries Gardens are my first destination, a vast park between the famous Champs Elysées/Place de la Concorde and the Louvre museum (which, by the way, has the most beautiful of all metro stations). I have always loved this place, in particular on a sunny spring day. There are lots of chairs around, but unfortunately even more tourists (and also Parisians, I assume). So I do some more walking workout and just squat down on a little wall just next to the Louvre. What else did I do in downtown Paris? Wait for my next article. Now I would like to tell you more about the stunning 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord.
A yummy Dinner at my Home away from Home
After all the walks I dont feel like doing a lot in the evening. Getting old? Definitely not, I was just tired from walking for hours and hours ;-). Apart from that, the 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord is offering fantastic food, even for vegetarians. You order your favorite meal from the menu and pick it up in the fancy restaurant NENI. Sweet potatoes, hummus and a glass of red wine (after all, I am in France…) – and then some TV watching. Laziness at its best!
The next evening I have a date with a friend, so its nice to spend a quiet evening.
I have a wonderful nap in my room which is surprisingly quiet, despite the location in a very busy neighborhood.
Sundays mean long breakfasts. Gosh, the NENI restaurant is simply wonderful. A colorful mix of styles, far away from those many boring hotel restaurants. You rather feel like sitting in a large living-room. The buffet is awesome. Cannot get enough of that tasty bread, hummus again, delicious marmalades and a great selection of cheese, of course. The friendly waiter is offering eggs and brings a great espresso. I am asking him about the very special, kind of chilling music. „All the music you are listening to here was selected by the staff, look at the leaflet on the table.“ What a great idea. Shirley from the front office has selected „Overnight“ by Parcels, modern funk music which reminds you of summer. Well done, Shirley!
From that leaflet on my table, I also learn about the different kinds of kisses in France. People in Paris give you four kisses when saying hello, seems like they simply cannot get enough. Good to know!
Gosh, I have been sitting in the restaurant for almost two hours, time to leave!
A chic Bar and a Metro Station close by
What else to see in the 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord? The chic bar SAPE, of course, which has become a meeting point for „tout Paris“ (almost…). And a few meeting rooms, fancy and definitely great to increase your creativity. There is a little coffee bar in the lobby where you can also rent e-bikes … if you are not scared of the Parisian traffic.
The Metro station Gare du Nord is just at the doorstep. In about 20 minutes (you have to change one or two times), you reach downtown with all major sites. Beware – the subway is mostly crowded. People are pushing and dont expect to have a lot of space for yourself. But I have survived, and traveling by Metro is pretty cheap (1.90 EUR for the ride downtown – February 2019). You can pay your ticket by credit card.
All in all, I have really enjoyed my stay at the brand new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord. I can highly recommend it for a city break in wonderful Paris. Ah, when checking out, the front desk officer asked me about my stay and how I liked the bed. Even the staff questions are different in the 25hours hotels – so refreshingly different. And to answer the question – my bed was great, Monsieur. See you again soon – à la prochaine fois!
More to follow – stay tuned!
Photo by Jean Philippe Combeau