The last time I went to Paris, I was 11 years old.
My overwhelming memory of it was being sick, lots, and crazy traffic. Somehow, despite visiting a lot of European cities in my late teens and early 20s, I never returned. I very rarely travel these days (for very good reason) and I haven’t been on a city break in ten years or more.
When French magazine Parole de Mamans announced that they would be bringing top bloggers from around Europe to their E-Fluent Spot (no jokes, please) blogging conference I really wanted to go. To be honest it could have been two nights in a Travelodge on the M25 and I probably still would have applied as long as it was childfree.
I have no idea what circumstances lead to me being selected.
None the less, I was very excited to find out I had been. I was also fairly nervous about meeting all the ‘pro bloggers’, and hoped they wouldn’t laugh in my face because my Instagram is crap and I don’t know what self-hosted means.
I didn’t query it though, for fear of being kicked off the group, so I wished my children bon voyage as they went off to stay with my parents for the very first time, and packed my bags.
Once safely at the hotel we were met by Sophie, the event organiser, and off I went to investigate my digs with new roomie Franca who, I can confirm, doesn’t snore, but she does like to whip her laptop out at 2am. That’s the kind of commitment that you just don’t get from me.
We were staying in the Saint James Albany.
The room was fab… but sadly the hotel WiFi crashed, I suspect through the sheer weight of bloggers trying to log on, so it was less a blogging trip and more a digital detox. I did wonder briefly whether the whole thing was some kind of social experiment.
It wasn’t long before we were called for hair and makeup for the gala dinner being thrown for all the international bloggers. Whilst I feel what I ended up with strayed somewhat from the ‘natural look’ into ’80s hooker’, I kind of blame my shit French. I’ll never ask for boucles again. Zut alors.
Along with the rest of the UK Bloggers – Aby, Laura, Sara-Jayne, Karen, Phill and Jo, we ate French food and drank champagne with views of the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty…in Seine (if you thought I was too good to make that joke, think again). There was even a little bit of dancing. It was a fab soirée.
The gala dinner for all international bloggers took place on a boat called Paris en Scène.
The day of the conference we were, unsurprisingly, a bit bleary eyed and cotton-wool headed; a morning croissant, a stroll across Paris and a trip on the metro saw us right and we soon got busy chatting to the many brands that were there. Every single one of them apologised for their English; every single one could speak it amazingly well. Given my French is restricted to asking a) the location of the toilets (useful) and b) to buy chocolate ice cream (not useful) it did make me feel slightly ashamed.
As the conference wound down, we popped into a café with our interpreter.
Here we had the privilege of paying ten quid for a pint of Leffe. Ouf. Paris is not cheap.
Anyway I won’t go into details, but there was more bier, and then the official E-Fluent party where there was plenty of vin, and then a trip to a bar where there was more beer, some shots of something disgusting, a kebab, and a stupidly late night involved. It’s as if I never learn.
Our Eurostar wasn’t until half six the following day so after dragging ourselves to breakfast and forcing down some carbs we checked out, left our luggage at the hotel and took a hungover stroll around Paris to see some of the sights, stopping for a croque monsieur and a café au lait. Très bien.
We arrived back at the hotel about an hour before our car was due to arrive to take us back to Paris Gare Du Nord and went to collect our bags.
Only one of mine, the official conference bag which happened to have in it my new laptop and my handbag containing my jewellery and keys, was not there. Sacré bleu!
I searched. The hotel staff searched. Sophie searched.
It was then that we found an identical bag, containing Lego instead of expensive electronics and irreplaceable jewellery, and realised that it must have been taken by someone else with the same bag – everyone had been given them. I felt bloody stupid for using it, and was wondering what the hell I was going to do.
My husband (who had just bought said laptop) was going to kill me, or at least look very disappointed.
Sophie started ringing around all the international bloggers who were already on their way home, but no one had seen the bag. By this point, having slept less in two days than on a regular night at home (which is not much at all), I was pretty much in tears. Ciara came to stand with me to provide a bit of moral support as I sat waiting for news with my head in my hands.
Sophie came over and asked me to describe my bag one more time.
I could tell that this was her absolute worst nightmare – so close to the end of a fantastic event and things were starting to go wrong. In her head I’m sure she was calculating the fall out from having a blogger’s laptop stolen from the hotel. Through tears, I described my bag to her.
Ciara got a strange look on her face.
The bag had been attached to her suitcase. She thought I knew, and assumed I was looking for a different one.
I’m not sure who’s the bigger div but I’m definitely going with her.
After almost an hour of the hotel and organisers being on panic mode, we called off the search and we both slunk shamefaced back to our seats.Yea…. I can’t see us being invited back somehow. Pardon. Mortified doesn’t begin to cover it.
After that, the journey back was, thankfully, fairly uneventful. We said our au revoirs at a festively lit St Pancras and I schlepped across London and home.
And what of the Whingelets?
Well, they were (of course) both perfectly well behaved for my parents, and slept through the night for the three nights they were there.
On Wednesday night I returned, extremely tired and I daresay more than a little hungover, so the big one decided to wake up at 2am and piss about until about 4 when I sent her back into her own room with Daddy and then they both cried all the way to preschool. Nothing like coming back to earth with a bump.
A huge merci beaucoup for Sophie and Parole de Mamans for inviting me, Selectour Afat for arranging the travel, St James Albany for putting us up, Paris en Scene for the dinner and the amazing nighttime views of Paris, and Me and I for giving me something to wear to the conference.
I like to take photos of landmarks with the tops missing. De Rien. If you are after decent photos of the sights, you’re in the wrong place.