We got up early today, and at 0715 I was off to start the laundry at the laundromat which was just 2 doors down from the hotel. We finished the laundry by 0900 and had the breakfast that the hotel offers. 1 croissant, 1 bun, 1 glass of OJ, all the cereal you can eat and all the coffee and tea you can drink. OK, but really "bready".
Our plan for today was to hit the Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe. We headed down to the Lamark – Caulaincourt metro (about 200m from the hotel) and bought a 3 day metro pass. Finally something that didn’t cost an arm and a leg: 19 euros each. The metro attendant helped us figure out which metro we wanted to take and then we were off to see the Eiffel Tower! I was excited.
We got to the tower and there was a small sea of tourists already there. It probably took us about 40 minutes from when we got in the line at about 1000 until we finally got into the elevator to go up to the 1st and second floors. Well, there were 3 elevators bringing people up to the 2nd floor and from there it was one elevator bringing up people to the 3rd floor (about the same height up again as the 2nd floor was). We immediately joined that line and took some pictures as we waited. Paris was lovely from up on the tower. We could see that it soon would be smoggy as the weather warmed up and the haze built upon the city. After waiting about another 30 minutes we made it to the elevator for the 3rd floor. They packed us in like sardines and we took the elevator up to the top. The view was very NICE. It was interesting to see the people and cars milling about down below looking like ants. We took pictures of Paris, probably from every angle you could imagine. Unfortunately the Champs de Mars was directly into the sun so it meant that it limited our pictures to more northerly exposures. I dreamed how the city might look from up there at night.
We went down to the second level and took our time looking around from there. It seemed that, even thought it was super cool from the 3rd floor to see the city, the view from the second floor was clearer, less hazy. We took a whole bunch of photos again.
Next stop: First floor. It was past lunch and we needed a bite. We dined on the Eiffel tower overlooking Paris. Sure we only had a sandwich and a hot dog, but we DID dine on the tower overlooking the city ;) After regaining our energy from eating lunch we decided we’d WALK down to the ground instead of the elevator. It was interesting to walk down through the structure of a leg of the tower and see the elevator passing you.
From the Eiffel tower, it was off to the Arc de Triomphe. We got off one stop down from the Arc and walked up the Champs Elysee towards it. It was already afternoon unfortunately and the sun was behind the Arc, making it a tough shot :( We passed Peugot and Renault shops on the Champs as we walked and they both had their latest F1 racers on display in the showrooms. Very glitzy. Very cool. Got some good shots. We continued along further and stopped at the Toyota Paris. They had a scale model of a RAV4 there. The impulse buyer with me now has one :) Next stop on the walk was Louis Vitton. The store was full of people buying REALLY expensive stuff! We walked through the store and saw some Jewellery for CAD35K and luggage for CAD21K!!! We inquired about the wallet we figured Eddie wanted. Out of stock. Bummer. We got a couple of other model numbers from the catalogue and figured we’d check with him as to what he wants.
We arrived at the Arc de Triomphe and had a look around. I forgot how massive it was. Nothing like coming up from the underground under the arch and seeing it up close. There were the words of Charles de Gaulle which he broadcast from the BBC after France capitulated and there was the tomb of the unknown soldier. It was really nice. There were many clueless tourists just snapping pictures and saying "What was THAT part for?" So many of them didn’t have a clue about the history of the Arc or why it was built. Some (North Americans) didn’t even know that WWI was 1914-1918. I was ashamed to be a North American when I heard that conversation 😦
We went over to Avenue des Grands Armees and took some pictures with the sun to our back this time. Next we walked down the Avenue des Champs Elysees on the other side of the street and checked out all the stores on that side. We walked, and walked, and walked all the way down to the "Jardins des Tuileries" and then down to th musee de Louvre at the far eastern end of the Avenue des Champs Elysees. What a long walk that was.
We headed over to 2ieme arrondisement for dinner. After wandering somewhat hopelessly, we found a nice cafe with good food and good prices. Soccer was on. France tied Romania. 0-0 We ate some local French food. I had duck, and Mrs D had steak in French preparation. It was good, and we enjoyed some good wine with it all.
After dinner we headed back over to the Octagonal pond of the Jardins des Tuileries and sat down at the Ocatagonal pond to wait for sunset. It was all pretty relaxing and good. We hung out until about 2230 and were waiting near the obelisk. At 2245 the Eiffel tower lit up. It looked beautiful. I figured we’d need to pop over on the metro to the area near the "ecole militaire" at the end of the "Champs de Mars" so that we could get a good angle to shoot the tower. Just as we started walking towards the metro, at 2300, the tower began to glitter with strobe lights. It did this for about 10 minutes, and then went back to normal illumination. COOL. We took metro to Ecole Militaire and got some great shots of the lit up tower from the angle of Champs de Mars. There were probably 1000 or more people sitting on the lawns of the Champs and they were hanging out drinking wine or beer and enjoying the view. It was spectacular. We probably each shot about 20 shots each. It seemed as the sun kept setting the sky behind the tower kept changing and it was VERY beautiful. From there, we grabbed the metro back over to the Arc de Triomphe and backed out about 2 blocks. I got some great longer exposure shots from resting my camera on the traffic control for a "tripod". It worked. I seemed to have some problems focusing and I definitely noticed my IS on my 17-85 lens shaking before settling down. Not happy. If the camera/lens stop working during this trip I’m going to be PISSED.
We took metro back "home" and we got back to hotel at 0030. I figured I’d try the WiFi again. It STILL sucked. 😦
Long, long day… 0125 – Time to sleep.
Tomorrow we go to the musee de Louvre and Notre Dame. If there’s time, we’ll hit Sacre Coeur.