Carolyn and I both freely acknowledge that we are incredibly lucky to be able to be sitting here in Paris, sipping some French wine purchased at the grocery store for under ten bucks, eating some chocolate, and letting our feet rest up from the well-intentioned abuse we’ve put them through.
Despite this great fortune and our gratitude for same, we felt even more fortunate after deciding to put our shoes back on last night and wander out of our apartment to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up. Once there, we knew we had to go up in it and see Paris at night.
Before we post the slide show of our best pictures of the experience, I thought we’d describe the surrounding area around the tower a bit. Everyone sees the tower and understand it represents Paris, but what’s it really like around it?
There’s a fairly large park that surrounds the tower, and at least at night it looks to be filled with couples and groups that bring maybe a blanket and a picnic basket and some wine in order to view the thing as if it was one continuous fireworks display. While romance is in the air, the area is also filled with street vendors hawking everything from bottles of wine and champagne to miniature statues and flying toys and even roses that they stick in the ladies’ hand and then step back expecting to be paid. I also suspect that these same vendors are probably the most responsible for the many warnings that are posted to be wary of pickpockets.
So, it’s a bit of a mishmash and I think it’s best just to plow through all that and get to the base of the tower and decide whether you want to go to level one, two, or all the way to the top, which apparently doesn’t get offered every day. There are four elevators on each of the tower’s bases that go to levels one and two. Once on level two, there is a single elevator that takes you to the very top through the ever-narrowing spire.
On this lucky day not only did they offer rides to the top, but it was a crystal-clear night, with visibility as far as the eye could see. In addition, they have a light show of sorts once an hour, with twinkling lights that sparkle all over the outside of the tower. As we approached it for the first time, suddenly the light show began, and we stood and watched in complete gratitude that everything was going so well for us. It was quite a special night.
I’m not especially fond of heights especially if it’s in any way dicey. I don’t mind flying at all, and can look down from the highest building if I’m not standing next to a wall that only comes to my waist or some such. But if it’s something like an outside glass elevator or where you don’t feel totally secure, then I hear the siren’s call from below and can picture my body hurtling through the air to be met with a thud on the ground, and it’s just no fun at all for me. So once we got to the second level and I could see as far as the eye could see and was completely safe and content, I really had no desire to go up the spire to the very top. Carolyn, however, has no such phobia (unless there were spiders in the elevator), and so after some contemplation I decided I really wouldn’t have any fun taking the elevator ride, and so she went up on her own. By her description, I wouldn’t have had any issues at all once at the top; it’s all enclosed by thick wire or glass, but even she felt a little uneasy about the elevator ride, so in the end, I was glad I didn’t go up. Her pictures are included in the slideshow but even with the extra height, not much more can be seen so I have no regrets not going to the very top.
In any case, and without further ado, here is our slide show of the Eiffel Tower experience:
The tower is truly a remarkable feat of engineering, and worth every bit of its iconic status as representative of Paris. We shall never forget that shimmering tower of steel and light, and our magical evening ascending it and seeing the City of Light in all its glory.
The next day began around noon as I’d woken up in the middle of the night and just couldn’t return to sleep, and the next thing I knew I was stumbling out of bed to discover it was almost 11:00 and Carolyn in all her sweetness had just let me sleep. Our main game plan to start was to see Notre Dame, which we did, and can be best presented with yet another slide show:
After that, we had a nice meal in a little restaurant in the Latin Quarter, although we noticed that virtually every restaurant in one of the side streets had almost identical menus. The food was tasty, but I’m not sure why they think everyone wants the same thing. That seemed a little odd to us.
Afterwards, we navigated through the Metro again and went to the Champs-Elysees (which is pronounced something like “Shah is silly” and translates to: “Elysee is the Champ” because Elysee was the wife of the guy who invented the boulevard and she made him make it all about shopping) and had a romantic stroll on a street with a famous name but that is really nothing special except that you can say, “We had a romantic stroll along the Champs-Elysees.”
We wandered about the Arch de Triomphe again and then made our way home on the Metro, almost not getting lost most of the time, and then camped out drinking wine, eating chocolate, writing this blog, and being content with our two full days and two half days in Paris. We will gladly come back.