Disneyland Paris at Christmas

Sometimes you just need a bit of magic in your life. Cheesy fake American magic, but magic nonetheless. I don’t know why but I thought that Disney was ages away from Paris, everyone I knew who had gone had stayed at the resort so that might be it. But when I looked into it Disney was actually on the metro map and a super quick half hour on a train from central Paris. Annoyingly you can’t use the standard single trip metro tickets so you have to buy a €7.50 each way train ticket to get you there. Compare the cost of the train ticket to a flight to Florida…and it starts to look damn reasonable actually.

I fully intended to get there for park opening. Then I got distracted by the bacon and coffee at Mama Shelter and well, I managed to get to Disney half an hour after opening which I was quite proud of under the bacony circumstances. There was a bit of a queue to go through security but that was the longest I had to wait all day, there is a real argument for going to Disney in winter.

I walked in and went a bit nuts. Disney nuts, but nuts regardless. I was like a three year old who had just been introduced to the magical combination of E-numbers and sugar. Everything was just so…DISNEY. There was the castle, the princesses, and there were Disney Christmas decorations everywhere. When I calmed down for a second I was hit by another emotion; panic. I HAD TO GET ON A RIDE. Remembering the long long lines of Disneyland California I was suddenly all aflutter that I would miss out of some of the rides because of the wait time. So I jumped in the nearest line and stood amongst the screaming French children as we waited for the magic of Peter Pan.

I’m going to be honest, it was seriously underwhelming. The animatronics looked like they were from the late 70’s and was just a bit crappy. The kids seem to like it though (not that I could understand them, they were talking in French, but they were smiling in a cool French sort of way) so maybe I was just not hyped up on enough sugar yet?

Disneyland Paris Pirates

Next stop was Pirates of the Caribbean ride which was my favourite from Disneyland California. Again the wait time was super quick, maybe about 20 minutes? The ride was exactly as I remembered it from half a world away and over a decade ago. Except in French, so I may have missed a bit in translation. Again the technology was a bit dated, the pirates looked more like they were waiving off flies instead of a death defying sword fight, but sometimes you just have to stop being cynical and get in the moment.

I was seriously excited to see my other favourite ride, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (or Et Le Temple du Peril in the native tongue), had made it all the way to Paris. I raced over to the ride, got seriously lost, ended up on the set of Aladdin, found a Zazu hat and eventually made it to the Temple du Peril. The entire time I was lining up (only about 15 minutes) I was thinking how cool it was that they had built the Indiana Jones ride next to a classic roller coaster so there was something to watch while you waited. Now for those who haven’t been the American Indy ride is inside and you are essentially in the car with Indiana Jones as he gets chased by giant boulders and the like, so much fun. As I got closer and closer to the front of the ride I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. That roller coaster that they built next to the ride? Yeah, that was the actual ride. I couldn’t look like a chicken in front of the smoking French teenagers so I just had to go through with it, all upside down spiral loop-de-loop of it. Shudder.

Disneyland Paris temply of doom

Moving swiftly along I discovered my seriously rookie error, not eating early. Since it was winter only about half the food places were open and the lines even with a non-busy park were epic to say the least. Not wanting to stand for half an hour in a line I instead made the super smart decision to spend an hour walking all over the park trying to find food; all the while getting more and more hangry. I never learn do I? Luckily the winter parade was my saviour, as the crowds gathered around the castle to watch a snow covered Micky and friends I snuck into the Lucky Nugget for some live music and a pretty good attempt at American BBQ.

After lunch I went to check out futureland and the always terrifying Space Mountain. I mean, a roller coaster in the dark? What sort of sectionable thought that up? Its Disney though, so you just have to give it a try and scream along with the French teenagers. Then came the most entertaining thing of the entire day, the 3D movie. Now most parks are showing something along the lines of Shrek, but not Disneyland Paris. They are still on the Michael Jackson movie when he played a renegade space captain trying to save the world with an assorted bunch of muppet friends. You know a movie is really dated when Michael Jackson is still black in it.

Eating healthy at Disneyland Paris

Euro Disney is a bit of a funny one really, if you are looking for a Disney fix without the cost of going to America then you will go and have a magical time. But if you are visiting and expecting it to be of the standard of the American parks then you will be seriously disappointed. I mean even the food was alarmingly healthy with almost no deep fried options, that’s not Disney at all; there was even a fruit stand! I would actually also recommend going in winter when the park is a lot quieter even if it is freezing. I think my visit/opinion of the joy of the rides would have been completely different if I had had to queue for an hour or more for each

The Chocolate Factory Paris Chocolate Butt Plug Santa

It wouldn’t be a Runawaykiwi holiday without some completely bizarre experience … so let me introduce you to the chocolate butt plug exhibition I went to while in Paris. If your mother is reading over your shoulder it may be a good time to suggest she makes a cup of tea otherwise things could get a bit *awks* #blush.

When I was riding the metro I saw a poster for what I thought was an exhibition called the Chocolate Factory by Paul McCartney. Now I love chocolate, and I don’t find the music of the Beatles offensive so it sounded like something that I would enjoy. I didn’t think much more of it until I was walking off my éclairs and stumbled upon the exhibition.

When I walked up the stairs of the gorgeous Paris mint that housed the exhibition I was confronted by a forest of giant inflatable butt plugs. At this point I began to think that I may have misunderstood the poster. Yeah, not Paul McCartney, but Paul McCarthy the controversial artist. Remember the Christmas tree that got put up outside the Louvre? The one that the worlds media giggled over and said oh those silly French, don’t they know that the tree looks like a sex toy? Well, turns out the French did know, and for Paul McCarthy that was the entire point.

The Chocolate Factory Paris Inflatable Butt Plug

So after the forest of ‘trees’ it was on to the chocolate factory proper, and boy could you smell it. As soon as you walked through the door the smell of coco smacked you in the face and left your mouth watering. The first room is where the assistants (all dressed in red with blond bob wigs) made the chocolate; melting down, tempering and then cooling into molds. Then yet more assistants would take the chocolate…shapes…and move them to shelves in other parts of the exhibition.

Day after day of making and moving 3D chocolate butt plugs and chocolate Santas holding butt plugs. The best part of it was that because this was France there was everyone from children to grandmothers viewing the exhibition and considering its artistic merits, anywhere else in the world those hallowed halls would just have been filled with giggles.

The Chocolate Factory Paris Butt Plugs on display

There wasn’t much else to it really, just room after room of shelved chocolate Santas holding their presents for naughty adults. Or good adults depending on your point of view. Some of the rooms also had an audio visual components with a projection over the space showing the artist sketching his Santas and planning the shelves and chocolate making machines.

I was totally down with the quirky art, with the deliberate flirting with controversy, but one thing I could never forgive the Chocolate Factory for is that they didn’t give out any damn chocolate. I was even willing to buy and eat a chocolate butt plug I was so desperate for chocolate, but the only one they had for sale in the gift shop was a full sized one for €80ish. Even after driven mad smelling chocolate for an hour that is too much to spend on a chocolate butt plug. And that ladies and gentlemen is a sentence I never thought I would write.

The Chocolate Factory Paris Chocolate Butt Plug

Sweet treats in Paris

Oh I love a good éclair. I mean what other treat would you design an entire day around? Last time I was in Paris I happened upon L’Eclair de génie the most banging éclair shop ever. The éclairs are small compared to what you get in England and seem expensive too (€5 per), but holy hell the flavours are immense.

After taking two metros to get to the St Paul L’Eclair de génie store the first problem was which delicious little jeweled treat to buy. There were about ten different choices and I had to battle with the inner blogger as to if I went with the ones that looked the prettiest or the flavours that I would actually like. No surprise given my capacity for food that the flavours won and I purchased; passion fruit and milk chocolate, raspberry cream, and mascarpone chocolate biscuit. The next problem was where to eat them?

Now last time I was here I made it about 3 meters from the shop before digging in. Hey, don’t judge they are really that good. But because I was only in Paris for a couple of days I wanted something a bit more…French. So I walked, and walked, and walked. I went from St Paul down the riverbank to the Louvre and the Tuilerie gardens. For some unbeknownst reason I decided this vista was not well suited to the flavours of eclairs so I kept on walking.

Shakespeare and Company Paris

I crossed the river and wandered down to Shakespeare and Company, the famous book shop which has served as a base for writers for 96 years (they let writers sleep in the shop in exchange for a few hours work). I couldn’t stay too long getting lost in the books, I was holding three beautiful éclairs after all.

There was only one place that would work; Notre Dame. I wandered across the love locks bridge and found a bench outside the beautiful old beast of a church. People were milling around, pick pockets were asking you to read things and one particularly dumb group of kiwi girls were asking if Notre Dame was the one who predicted the end of the world. #embarrassedtobeakiwi

L'eclair de genie the best eclairs in Paris

I put on my iPod and cranked up a bit of Rudimental and dug into the first éclair. I tried for a while to take a selfie of me eating the first éclair but it is impossible without looking like you are giving someone a blow job – sometimes its hard being a blogger.

The original intention was just to have one now and save the rest for an after dinner treat, but with the setting and the music and the crisp winter air it was just all to perfect to stop at one. So I kept going and polished off all three. I mean, when you are in Paris you just have to do these things right? My favourite by far was the mascarpone which had full chunks of chocolate amongst the cream and endless caramel sauce drizzled along the top. Sigh, can I eat these every day?

Love Locks bridge in Paris

Mama Sheter Loves Paris

When I was looking into my Paris trip, Mama Shelter was recommended to me by multiple tweeps so I knew that I was in for something cool. And by cool I mean seriously hipster. Mama Shelter specialises in the concrete and black carpet look that just screams ‘I have a beard, bow tie and always pack my air drums’. I will start this by saying that I got a press rate when I stayed at Mama Shelter, which was roughly equivalent to getting free upgrade from a Mama to a Mama Luxe. As always my opinions are my own which you will gather as you read on and discover I threw a lime at a waiter. Oops.

When I arrived I thought that the receptionist was just being super friendly because she knew I was a blogger (these thing happen), she gave me a quick tour of the restaurant, sang the praises of the Sunday brunch and then helped me work the lift (you needed ninja like reflexes to get your card in and out). But when I was wandering through reception later on this seemed to be how they treated all guests. Very unusual in any big city to get this level of chilled out perkiness in a hotel check-in team, but lovely to see.

They won my heart forever when I walked into my room and saw Clark Kent and Darth Vader masks just to make my selfies more interesting when taking them on the iMac strategically placed on the wall. Biggest perk of travelling alone? No one to question you when you spend half an hour jumping on your bed in a Clark Kent mask pretending to fly. Sometimes you just have to do these things.

Masks at Mama Shelter

Anyway back to the rooms. The darkness was cool and all but more suited to a bat cave than a hotel room because it was seriously painful for getting ready. I was taking the chance of wearing bright lipstick while in Paris and I needed a seriously good light to colour within the lines, cue awkwardly smudgy lipstick. But the bat cave was super snuggly when I packed it in at 4:30pm on Saturday night and decided to eat treats and watch movies. Oh yeah, that fancy iMac has oodles of free movies. So as the young party animal that I am I watched Pitch Perfect, Silver Linings Playbook, Star Trek (the one with Sherlock), and The Worlds End. Exactly the sort of cultural fodder that you can expect in Paris.

The lime throwing incident… yes. I was so shattered the night I arrived that I just wanted to eat in the Mama Shelter restaurant. I had been told earlier that since it was just me I would be able to eat at the bar without a reservation, so I rocked in got sat at the bar and…waited. And waited. And waited. It was 20 minutes of me watching the bartenders serve other people, clean glasses and chat. I was so angry that I flicked a lime wedge that was next to me. What I didn’t realise was just how much of a violent lime flicker I am…what I intended to be a one inch flick was actually an Olympic quality citrus of death flick that hit one of the bar staff. Mortified does not begin to describe it. But they finally noticed me and brought me a cocktail…so win?

While we are talking food, the breakfast blew my mind. Normally in France you can expect a full on European breakfast; cold meat and cheese, bread and some cereals. Mama Shelter had ALL THE FOOD. There was bacon, eggs, cold meats, breads, pastries, a few types of fruit salad, coffee on tap or special order. It was amazing. The only difference between the Mama Shelter breakfast and what you would see in an American hotel was no pancakes, but with all the pastries on offer they were really not missed.

Mama Shelter Paris Breakfast

If you are unfamiliar with Paris Mama Shelter looks like it is not in the centre of town, but it has three metro stops just a short walk away so as a weekender its perfect. For the extra win there is a late night supermarche just down the road, and the best patisserie I have been to on the opposite corner. I mean, what more do you want?

And the best bit about Mama Shelter (ok this might sound a bit weird), the shower. It was one of those rain showers, the ones that never quite live up to expectations. Honestly I have tried them in a few hotels and they are always just like a normal shower without the added bonus of directionality. But this beast, holy shit it was amazing. Like standing in a full tropical rain storm. I wasn’t planning on washing my hair (curls are a flipping nightmare on holiday) but that shower made me go out and BUY shampoo in Paris…it was that good.

The verdict? If it weren’t for the bartenders (again, sorry about the lime) and if it had a few more lights in the rooms it would be close to the perfect Paris hotel. I really recommend it for a weekender in the magical city that is Paris.