I’m Top Traveller in easyJet 15 Hour Blogger Challenge

On 22 December 2010, easyJet announced that I was voted Top Traveller in the easyJet 15 hour Blogger Challenge. A big thank you to everyone who voted for the video of my challenge in Paris in the Facebook poll.

Introduction

As part of easyjet’s 15th birthday celebrations, four travel bloggers took part in the “easyJet 15 hour Blogger Challenge“.  I was one of the four bloggers flying to a secret destination in Europe, where we’d have 15 hours to explore that city with £100 to spend.  We didn’t know our destination until we arrived at the airport to check in.  We were accompanied by Kane, easyJet’s social media planner, who took photos and videos of our challenge.

My easyJet 15 Hour Blogger Challenge

My Challenge kicked off on Tuesday 23 November at 6am at Luton Airport. where my secret destination was revealed as Paris.

My £100 spending budget only equated to 100 Euro at a Luton Airport bureau de change. I never change my money at a UK airport, as the rates of exchange are low and the commission high.  I’ve researched this topic in my post “Best Debit Cards for Use Abroad” where I recommend a FairFX Anywhere card with a flat fee of 1.5% for purchases and cash machine withdrawals.  I go to a cash machine at my arrival airport and get out some cash in the local currency there. Using the FairFX card can increase your holiday spending money by up to 10% compared to using an UK airport bureau de change.

After paying 18 Euro for a return train/metro ticket from Charles de Gaulle Airport to my accommodation, the Seven Hotel Paris, I realised that 100 Euro wasn’t going to go very far in the French capital, as I’d to spend some more money on transport and buy food.  However, as my time was limited I thought I’d rather explore Paris than linger over lunch and dinner.

My room at Hotel Seven Paris

After checking into the hotel I thought I should spend some time online checking up on the Paris tips I’d received in Facebook and Twitter. However, that plan was rather thwarted by the poor wifi signal in my room. After I’d managed to arrange to meet Michael and Marlys tweeting as @Paris Buff for a guided Paris Movie Walk in Montmartre that afternoon, I decided I’d better get out and about. Fortunately I’d recently compiled a Best of Paris Travel Tips post on the Europe a la Carte Blog, so I had some ideas on what I could do in Paris.

There was a great baker and patisserie close to the hotel, so the 4.5 Euro Formule consisting of a ham baguette, a slice of flan and a drink was a fast, delicious and cheap lunch option.

Patisserie near Hotel Seven

We arrived in Montmartre early for our appointment with ParisBuff so walked up the steps towards Sacre Coeur which offered views over a rather cloudy Paris.

 

Dusk was falling by the time we began our walk with Michael and Marlys, I just caught the illuminations firing up on Sacre Coeur.

Sacre Coeur at dusk

Montmartre was looking very magical with the fairy lights in the trees.

Montmartre by night

We had a tasty potato topped salad at Relais Gascoine, as recommended by Michael and Marlys before heading for the Arc de Triomphe and a walk down to the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde.

Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde

Then it was back to the hotel for an early night to prepare for any early start the next morning.

Next morning after a visit to the bakers close to the hotel for breakfast, we took the Metro to Notre Dame with a quick stop at the Fontaine St Michel.

Fontaine St Michel

I’d planned to climb the tower at Notre Dame as suggested by Kimberly in her post “Paris from Quasimodo’s Perspective” but there was a long queue so I had to make do with a quick look around the interior.

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The rear of Notre Dame

It was such a lovely day that we decided to walk along the Seine to the Louvre.

The Louvre Pyramid

Then we continued along the banks of Seine toward the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower from the banks of the River Seine

We made the big mistake of going for lunch at a restaurant close to the Eiffel Tower, mainly as I needed a rest after all that walking. The food was not very good and the portions small. I said goodbye to Kane after a coffee, as his return flight was earlier than mine. I decided to do a bit more sightseeing before returning to the hotel to pick up my luggage.

I found a branch of A La Mere de Famille confectionary shop, as recommended by Sian.

A La Mere de Famille confectioners

The Musee de l’Armee was looking beautiful in the afternoon sun.

Musee de l’Armee in Paris

I’d hoped to go up the Montparnasse Tower as Neha thinks that it offers the best views of Paris. However, it was longer to walk there than I’d anticipated, so I didn’t have time to go up.

Montparnasse Tower, Paris

 

Then it was time to pick up my case and head to the airport, little did I know that my biggest challenge was still to come, getting back home.

My flight back to Newcastle from Charles de Gaulle Airport was delayed for more than 2 hours as Newcastle Airport was closed due to snow. We were sitting in the plane not knowing what would happen for almost 2 hours, at one stage the pilot thought we might have to be diverted to Edinburgh, not good for me as a taxi had been booked to take me home from Newcastle to Berwick upon Tweed. However, we did finally land at Newcastle around 22.45.  There was no sign of the taxi or contact from them.  There was a long queue at the taxi rank, no taxis there and it started to snow again. It seemed that the best course of action was to hang around the airport until early morning and then make my way to Berwick by public transport. When I phoned my husband to tell him I wouldn’t be home that night, he said he’d come and pick me up.  I finally arrived home at 3.30am after a horrendous drive north on the snowy A1.

Podcast about my easyJet 15 Hour Blogger Challenge in Paris

Article in Local Paper About My Challenge

On 5 January 2011 our local paper, the Berwick Observer, reported on my Blogger Challenge.

Thank You for Your Tips

I hope that I managed to take a note of everyone who offered me Paris tips. Due to my limited time in Paris and not getting a decent wifi signal on arrival at my hotel, I wasn’t able to follow many of the tips. I haven’t been able to retrieve all the tips made on Twitter so I’m just linking to the Twitter streams. I managed to retrieve the tips on Facebook more easily.

Twitter

Facebook

Paul Kilduff – Take a lift to the top of the Grande Arche in La Defense – great views

Gotz A Primke – Visit the flee market marché des Puces at Porte de Clignancourt. And the famous cimetery Père Lachaise. Also Les Égouts, Paris’ Underground, is a cool Place to visit.

Simon Falvo – a Paris Movies Walk with @Paris Buff (great minds think alike as I did arrange this).

Terry Sullivan – A walk in Jardin de Luxembourg (left bank) on a sunny Sunday morning! Bliss

James Benedict Brown – I suggest you head to my favourite arrondissement, the 11th. It’s a Tuesday, so you wil…l find the beautiful and lively food market on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, just near Oberkampf metro. It’s always been the first stop when we take self-catering breaks in this densely populated and diverse neighbourhood of the city. Then turn east and walk uphill towards Belleville and Menilmontant, two of the prettiest, most diverse and most interesting neighbourhoods of the city. Reward yourself with a drink at La Mer à Boire, which has a stunning view over Parc de Belleville towards the skyline of Paris.

Easyjet Top Traveller

Now that all the bloggers have done their challenge, our endeavours will be judged  in terms of entertainment value, utility and originality, by easyjet Facebook fans, so that  a “Top Traveller” can be crowned.  If you vote for the “Top Traveller” you then have the chance to win a two night holiday in the winning featured city.