Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wandering Wednesday - The Eiffel Tower, France

Paris. When we first booked a trip there in 2007, I was beside myself with excitement. I remember people telling me negative things - it's just a giant cement block, it's dirty, it's too busy - so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I truly fell in love with the city of lights on our first day. We've been to Paris a small handful of times now and although I've never lived there, I feel like I 'know' it. Like it's almost my city. There is so much I could go into about Paris though, today I just want to remember its most famous landmark: La Tour Eiffel.


Built as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, it now graces the cover of many travel brochures & tour guides, drawing in countless visitors every day. I remember seeing the first time I laid eyes on this steel beauty. We were on the metro, coming out of a tunnel when it just appeared before my eyes across the river. So much bigger then I had expected. Walking up to it, I never expected each leg to be so monstrous. Or, there to be so many people - oh the joys of Paris in summer! Until you've set your eyes on it, it's really hard to fully grasp just how such a large hunk of metal can be so enchanting. Although there is SO much more to Paris then just the Eiffel Tower, it's symbolic. It's the heart of a Eurotrip. It reeks of romance and for me, many happy memories.

On our first visit we were on a pretty strict budget and decided to save a few bucks by walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Lets just say, it's not for the fainthearted. If you're unfit or don't like heights/wind, take the elevator. The plus side to the stairs however was the cheaper admission, shorter wait in line and the reading about the history of the tower up every couple of flights. It gave me a GREAT reason to stop and catch my breath :-)




As I expected though, laboring up those stairs was well worth the effort!



The next time I visited Paris was on a girls weekend (girls weekend in Paris - a once in a lifetime experience and the BEST idea ever). I wanted to see it at a different time of day so we headed over to the left bank late in the afternoon with the intention of watching the sunset off the top of the tower. Sounds romantic, huh? I wish I had done this the first time around! Being winter, the lines weren't as bad as my last visit so we took the elevator up to the second floor for some hot frites and a spectacular sunset. The advantage to taking the elevator (other then the lack of physical exertion) was that we could also go up to the viewing deck on the top floor. It's fully enclosed and although the views weren't that much better then the floor below, it was still fun to go to the top.



As photos often depict, there's a long stretch of grass below the Eiffel Tower known as the Champ de Mars - down here is where we got some of my all time favourite photos of the tower (one now proudly displayed on canvas in our bedroom). It would make for a lovely picnic spot - some champagne, brie & a baguette would go down a treat right here, but despite all my talk, it's something we never got around to :-(



One thing to be aware of at the Eiffel Tower - and any other major tourist spot in Paris - is the 'gypsies'. My cousin had forewarned about them, but basically just avoid anyone asking you to sign a petition, asking for money, trying to put a braided bracelet on your wrist. Sadly, they tend to work in groups and tend to have a number of different scams going on that get a lot of unsuspecting tourists.

There are some other great viewpoints of the Eiffel Tower - from the Jardins du Trocadero on the other side of the Seine...


... from the park in front of the Sacre- Coeur in Montmartre - in particular, for the sunset (note: a nutella crepe is essential for watching the sunset here!)


... and also from the Arc de Triomphe - the top of which is a great place to get an uninterrupted view and watch the hourly 'glittering' of the tower after dark.



The Eiffel Tower has only disappointed me once. In 2010 we spent a few days over New Years there with friends. We had a fantastic time and decided that the Eiffel Tower would be the perfect spot to see in the new year. We had all seen images of spectacular fireworks displays over the Eiffel Tower on TV each year, read about it in travel brochures and were pretty darn excited. We found ourselves, freezing and crowded in with other tourists just before midnight on the Champ de Mars. People were setting off firecrackers around us and when the clock hit midnight, nothing. A couple of mini fireworks, no more. We waited, thinking perhaps our watches were off. We waited some more. Other people around us looked confused. We ummed and ahhed and finally at 12.30 called it a night and sadly hit the metro. Honestly, it was the most pathetic fireworks display I've seen in my life (we put on a better show ourselves earlier that week in a Swiss skate park - another story in itself) and to this day, I am still disappointed that Paris did not live up to my NYE expectations.


My dream would be to one day go back on the final day of le tour - how amazing would it be to watch all the cyclists coming down the final stretch! We almost drove there to see this when we lived in Holland but ended up just watching the famous bike race pass through our country instead. As always, it just goes right on my ever growing travel wish list... One day, one day!


Happy wanderings :-)

3 comments:

  1. I am loving these photos! Especially the first one and the ones with the bright flowers. So gorgeous.

    We spent a night in Paris last year but didn't get to go up the Eiffel Tower. I want to plan another trip!

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  2. Beautiful photos!
    I've always suspected I'd be one to not love Paris, but you make a very convincing argument :) Sabrina (the Harrison Ford one) is one of my favorite movies, and it also makes quite the case, so maybe I should move Paris closer to the top of my list :)

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  3. Im right there with you! I explored the city with my mother in law and her sister. It was just fantastic and I definitely plan to go back! I have a girlfriend who has inherited an apt if you ever want me to put you in touch with her.

    I SO enjoyed everything Paris has to offer.

    You've inspired me to try to get some more of my pics framed!

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Thanks for reading, your comments make my day :-)

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