The tower itself was awesome. There are multiple levels that cost multiple moneys for you to climb, but we had purchased our tickets in advance and had full passes to go up to the top. And we did! We spent a goodly amount of time up there exploring and marveling over the epic views of the city:
Paris itself is beyond immense, and kind of scary – I’m not used to that much urban sprawl, even if it dates back 400 years or so. It made me feel very lucky to live where I do; I don’t think I could handle the congestion of Paris for very long.
We made the most of our time on top of the tower. They had a Champagne Bar up there for people to buy incredibly expensive glasses of champagne to toast themselves way up high; I think we all ended up taking pictures for tourists while they posed on top of the world. I didn’t have any champagne myself; I had a bottle of Diet Coke (from London; Paris has Coke Light ewww) and happily drank that instead. Surprisingly, there’s a bathroom on top of the Eiffel Tower – so we all gleefully peed on the tower, and I graffiti’d just a little tiny bit (shhhh):
We bought some cheesy souvenirs in the Eiffel Tower shop, then headed down to find our bus – we were off to the Notre Dame to soak ourselves in history!
The ride over on the bus was a little insufferable. We decided to stay in the bus this time instead of sitting up top because we were freezing (and Heather was sick – she came down with the flu that morning but was determined to soldier onward), and we were joined by a very loud family from the US. The three kids were obnoxious and the parents couldn’t care less – and, after the middle child asked for the fourth time in a row, the father told him that “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was written by Bob Marley. We tried our best to tune them out, but they were very shrill in addition to being somewhat ignorant and we were glad when they got off at the Louvre. We continued on the bus until we got to our second big destination of the day: the Notre Dame de Paris.
I’m fairly certain you can guess the adjectives I’ll use to describe the Notre Dame, but I’ll do it anyway: amazing, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, humbling. Also, pictures were allowed inside so that was an added bonus. It was just incredible inside, and we spent hours admiring the stained glass windows, sculptures and holy relics inside. I’m just this side of being an atheist, but it was beautiful in there and I feel privileged for being able to see it in person. Our pictures won’t do the inside justice, but here are some anyway:
Drained from everything we had seen that day, we spent some time wandering along the Seine to collect our thoughts. It was then I realized I had forgotten to get a miniature Eiffel Tower to bring home, and decided to get one from a cheesy souvenir shop along the river. There were several to choose from, but I went with the one called MEGA SOUVENIR figuring that if I was going to get anything, it had best be MEGA to truly capture the magnitude of our trip – and with that in mind, I got this:
It is a thing of beauty; exactly like my photos and memories of the tower. *sniffle*
We had to be back at the train station for our 9pm trip through the Chunnel, so we hopped on the terrifying Paris Metro for a few stops. We were famished, so we went outside and picked the first restaurant we saw at random: the Paris Nord Cafe, featuring the snootiest waiter in all of Paris!
He was a stereotypical dream – so snooty! So full of disdain for we silly North Americans! So rude and abrupt! We were slightly disappointed that we had not seen a single mine or baguette in all of Paris, but our Snooty Waiter more than made up for it. We ate dinner, splurged on dessert (creme brule, crepes and apple tart) and made our way back to the train station for the two-hour ride home.
So, what did we think of Paris?
As beautiful as the sights were, the city itself was scary. We had been utterly spoiled by London being so amazing, and Paris in contrast felt really crowded, dirty and congested. The traffic was terrible, everything was filthy from exhaust, a lot of the city was undergoing repairs, and huge 5-storey ads for luxury goods were plastered on every surface. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely glad we went to Paris .. but whereas I LOVE London and am giving serious thought to applying for an ancestry Visa, I don’t feel the same urge to return to Paris any time soon. I am just not worldly enough for France, I think.
Next up: our last full day in London :(