Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 6 : July 7 - Paris on foot

Paris, France

Wednesday morning we woke up and went for a little jog, our first since Sunday. Our, I should really say my first jog since last winter since I've been focused only on sprinting! It was just a 20 minute shake-out, so I made it, but it wasn't pretty. It is a real pain running in a big city, every block or two you have to stop for traffic or a stop light, you can't get away from the cars, it's all concrete (which I personally prefer). In short, it wasn't much fun we just did it to get it done.

After that we headed out to the Eiffel Tower. The Metro stop that was a few minutes from our hotel went straight to the Eiffel Tower, so it was an easy trip. We knew that it would be busy given what we had seen on Ile de la Cite on Tuesday, so we wanted to get there quickly and didn't stop to get breakfast. That turned out to be a mistake as we couldn't find anything to go near the Eiffel Tower. I did manage to get Janda some coffee though, so it wasn't a total loss. There are four pillars (feet) at the Eiffel Tower. Three of them sell tickets to all 3 floors and the fourth just sells tickets to the restaurant on the second floor. One of the ticket booths was closed, so most people were in the two lines to go to the top. They were long! I have to say, though, the lines moved pretty well and we probably only had to wait a half and hour or so.

Walking towards the Eiffel Tower

We got our tickets and got on our elevator pretty quickly once we made it through the line. The first elevator takes you up to the first and second floors, so we decided to look around the second floor before getting on the elevator to the top. It was pretty high and you had a really good view of Paris. Then we got in line for the next elevator. This was the scary one. As you look down out the window, you see the ground rushing away from you and you feel like if you took a step you could fall out of the elevator all the way down! We finally made it to the top and that's not so bad, it's very solid and you don't feel like it would be possible to fall. We walked around the top and checked out the view- in every direction, as far as you can see it is city, city, city. It was also a bit windy, but it was super hot that day, so not unwelcome.

Janda at the top

Me at the top

Champ de Mars

One of the views from the top

After we saw everything at the top, we headed back down the elevator. This time we got off on the first floor to see what that was like too. Luckily it was the least popular floor and the line for the ladies room wasn't completely insane like it had been upstairs. We walked around, saw the exhibitions, the cafe, the gift shop, etc... Then we decided to walk down the stairs the rest of the way. Even though the stairs are caged in, I still felt like I could fall off the Eiffel Tower! The walk down was pretty neat, but I wouldn't have wanted to do more than one floor that way. I'm pretty sure they don't allow people to climb the steps to the top, but if they did that would be insanely scary!

Walking down the stairs

Down the stairs

The view of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadaro

After the Eiffel Tower, we crossed the river to the Trocadaro and started the walk to the Arc de Triomphe. I had read about an open air market on the way, so we walked through that and got some lunch, a baguette, some cheese and strawberries. We carried that to the Arc de Triomphe and ate it on the Champs-Elysees. After lunch we headed through the tunnel (no running across the road for me this time!) and went to see the Arc de Triomphe up close. Our feet were a little tired from all the walking we had been doing on the trip, so we didn't climb the steps to the top, but I was OK with that!

The Arc de Triomphe

Looking down the Champs-Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe

Next we walked down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde. We went in a couple of stores on the Champs-Elysees, but I couldn't find what I was looking for- an outfit for Emma. :( All along the Champs-Elysees the roads and sidewalks were being set up for Bastille Day, which was yesterday. There were gates and fences plus huge sets of bleachers being put in place for what I'm assuming was a parade yesterday. The Place de la Concorde was completely covered, you could hardly see or get near the obelisk. That was a bit of a bummer, but we decided to relax in the Jardin des Tuileries for a little while instead. There were chairs and tables set up in the shade all along the gardens, which was just what we needed to A) get out of the sun and B) rest our feet.

Looking down the Champs-Elysees from the Place de la Concorde. You can see the bleachers they've built.

The Place de la Concorde with bleachers built on it

Relaxing in the Jardin des Tuileries

After relaxing there for a while, we left the gardens and went into the Louvre. It was pretty busy, especially as we got closer to the Mona Lisa. I swear that most people who went to the Louvre just saw the Mona Lisa and left. After we got past Salle 6 where she hangs, there was hardly anybody! The Louvre is 3 wings and 3 floors plus a basement in some areas. It would be impossible to see everything, but we did see 2 floors of the 3 wings. To be honest, I would have rather gone to the Musee d'Orsay and seen the Impressionist paintings, but Janda had never been and may never go back to Paris, so I thought the Louvre was the thing to do. On the way out, we saw the inverted pyramid and Janda looked for Mary Magdalen. ;)

The entrance of the Louvre

After a little break in the shade, we crossed the river at Pont Neuf and headed back to the St. Michel area. I did a little shopping and then we grabbed some dinner. We had a quick pizza and some crepes. I had a Nutella and banana and Janda had a Nutella and coconut. We ate them in a little park and then headed back to the hotel for the evening. After all that walking, we were definitely tired!

Watching our crepes being made

Janda and his crepe on the little streets near Place St. Michel

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