We experienced the fastest and simplest security lines of the trip at the Barcelona airport and flew into Paris Thursday night.
Our apartment is located about a block from the Arc de Triomphe, so we quickly were part of the Paris tourist scene.
Aside from Friday’s trip to Versailles, described separately, we quickly enjoyed some of the Champs-Élysées, areas around the Seine River that cuts a path across Paris, and then an evening visit to the Eiffel Tower.
Paris has a modern city with skyscrapers that you can see in the distance, but the older city has largely controlled heights so that the Eiffel Tower at 900-1,000 feet (roof to top of tower) still looms largely. For 40 years, it held the title as the world’s tallest structure, but lost that title in 1930 with the construction of New York’s Chrysler building. Today, there are buildings around the world three times its height.
It is still romantic and enchanting. The brightly illuminated classic structure got the “bonus” of twinkling lights in 2000. The flashing white lights come on for 5 minutes every hour at night.
Because it is the most visited paid monument in the world, it is not easy to get to the top. When we purchased our tickets five weeks ahead of time, we looked at two days and were able to choose only one time on one day that was available then.
There are several possibilities for a tower visit. One is to simply take it in from below or from a slight distance, maybe from a nearby bridge. The others come at a price. Often, especially at the last minute, the only available option is to go up to what is described as the first or second levels. These levels are fairly high and afford some good city views, and there are some limited shops and restaurants on these levels. Prices vary depending on whether you walk or use a lift. There are 300 or so steps to the first level and about 400 to the second level.
We had a lift pass to the top of the tower (actually two lifts; since there is a change at the second level), and, although there are stairs all the way up, they are closed to the public after the second level.
There are two levels at the top with breathtaking views. We did choose to walk down the 700 stairs from the second level upon our return.
Saturday is our last day of our trip, and we are still trying to decide what to do, but on our list there is Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, and Sacre-Coeurs, a basilica in the hilltop Montemarte area made famous in several films including Moulin Rouge. But, more importantly Regina’s son Mark and his wife Rachel have come over from Germany (where Mark is stationed) and whatever we do will be relaxed and in the spirit of some quality family time.