Big plans to be at the Eiffel Tower when it opened at 9 am. Only problem was that we slept until 9. A note about time zones.
At first I was really aware that the east coast of the US was 6 hours earlier. Once I settled into Paris it didn’t matter what time it was anywhere at all. Maybe that’s the definition of a vacation – losing track of time and not caring. I eventually lost track of the days. Hurray for me.
The Eiffel Tower in addition to being the hugest thing I’ve ever seen is painted brown, not black as I had always pictured it. From the second level I was able to all over Paris. I had no desire to truck to the top. Gift shops aka “Boutique Official” everywhere in the tower. I wonder if they were in the original plans? As always just hordes of tourists everywhere.
Guidebook note : Eiffel Tower – assume pickpockets are working the crowd. Arc d’ Triomphe – assume pickpockets are working the crowd. The Louvre – assume, you get the picture.
Later in the day while on the Avenue de Winston Churchill I met an Algerian man. We chatted about Churchill and Charles DeGaulle. He was looking forward to the anniversary of the liberation of Paris which is coming up this week. I told him of my plan to visit Versailles and he said when you see it ” You will lose your words.”
The man was very friendly and knew his WWII history. Here’s the thing I found most fascinating about history and being in Paris.
In Boston, for example there is Bunker Hill, the Old North Church and on and on. The events associated with those locations happened over 200 years ago. The liberation of Paris occurred in 1944, a time that is nearly in my lifetime. Meaning that I can talk to people who were there. My father and uncle both probably spent time in Paris during and after the war. There are photos and films of that history. Boston wears it’s history proudly and it’s never far away. In Paris history is a current event.
Took a stroll on the Champs D’Elysee. It’s big, noisy, brash, crowded and expensive. Not a highlight at all.
The Arc d’ Triomphe is amazing. Again, monuments in Paris are not small. Took the tour to the top for more amazing views of the city. Witnessed the re-lighting of the eternal flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier which is at the base of the Arc. The flame is commemorated and relit every day at 6:30 in the evening.
Witnessed an example of Rue Rage in the traffic that circles the Arc. Nobody got hurt just a lot of yelling. According to the guidebook when an accident happens in the traffic circle at the Arc the insurance companies just split the tab as it’s nearly impossible to figure out who was at fault in the accident.
Took a boat ride on the Seine and we sailed past the beaches. The City of Paris trucks in tons of sand and creates beaches on the banks of the river for a couple of weeks every summer. There was a British family on the boat. They were eating baloney sandwiches on white bread with mustard which tells me that they came over for the day since I believe it’s impossible to find white bread in Paris. The kids were well behaved and wearing Yankee hats for some reason. Paris is the last place I wanted to see Yankee hats.
Started to get with the program as we had dinner at 8pm at a delightful sidewalk cafe. A Frenchman seated next to us was observed dipping his fries in butter.
Sunset at 9:36 pm local time.