We choose Good Friday to start our 25th Anniversary tour. We said good bye to the boys and headed off to the airport. We always try and upgrade at the airport if we can but today we got skunked. There was only one seat left. Oh well. During the flight we did have pretty clear air and saw Hudson’s Bay with some cool ice flows. We looked for polar bears but as they are white, no luck.
We did both manage to snooze a bit over Greenland and missed it. We had a good flight overall and landed early morning into Paris.
We took the train into town and to our hotel which was right across the Seine from Notre Dame – fresh from that roof fire a week ago.
This is the view from our hotel doorstep. We were also very close to the Rue du Chat Qui Peche – The Street of the Fishing Cat, said to be the narrowest street in Paris at 5 feet 11 inches wide and 29 meters long. It was built in 1540 and named for the sign on a local shop. You certainly aren’t taking a car up there. Maybe one motorcycle.
Because of the Yellow Vest protests today (which was an unwelcome surprise for us) the French army had the Champs Elysees blocked off and all the nearby metro stations were closed. That was supposed to be the start of our day. We had to modify the plan! So we headed up to Sacre Coueur instead. Sacre Coeur (basilica of the Sacred Heart) was built in 1875 by the French government following the Franco-Prussian war, and stands atop the Montmartre butte, the highest point in the city.
Right near Sacre Coueur is an artists’ square. We looked for some art but found nothing that fit our desires. A couple more blocks away is the Le Mur des je t’aime. The ‘I love you’ wall with 612 tiles and the phrase ‘I love you’ written 311 times in 250 languages. The red splashes symbolize parts of a broken heart.
And a yet a few more blocks away is the Moulin Rouge. The famous cabaret and music hall opened in 1889.
We had prepurchased a timed ticket for 4pm for the Eiffel Tower. It was now close to 2pm and with all the closed subways stations (due to the Yellow Vest protests), we had to figure out a new route. We ended up 3 full stops away from where we wanted to be and the metro line we could use to get back was also closed. Crap. Time to abandon the transit system and snag a taxi. They’d at least know how to avoid the protest mess and get us there. Sure enough, we couldn’t walk by the Arc de Triomph but the taxi could drive us close enough for an out the window shot.
Drive by tourism! I think they call that a ‘view’ as opposed to a ‘tour’. The triumphal arch of the star honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on the inner and outer walls. The tomb of the unknown soldier from WWI lies underneath the arch. It was inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome it is 164 feet tall, 148 feet wide and 72 feet deep and sits in the middle of an intersection with 12 avenues radiating from it. Commissioned in 1806 but not completed until 1836. Pretty cool even if we saw it only briefly.
We did make it to the tower in time. And the taxi was cheap too (€10). Considering how difficult it was for us to get there, the grounds were still really crowded but our pre-purchased ticket saved us a 2-hour line-up.
The Tour Eiffel is a wrought iron lattice tower, named for the engineer Gustave Eiffel. Built from 1887 – 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair. It is the tallest structure in Paris at 1063 feet tall (about an 81-storey building). It also held the title for the tallest man-made structure in the world for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York was completed. Curiously it wasn’t supposed to be permanent. Imagine Paris without it now…
Looking up from dead centre on the ground. That’s a lot of rivets!
View from the top:
We had a nice clear day which was awesome as cloud and maybe rain was originally forecast. And because it had recently rained there was not a lot of pollution to mess up the view. There were some lines to wait in for the small elevators but all in all pretty amazing to go right to the top.
And being Paris, there is a champagne bar at the top. €18 for a glass was a bit too much for our budget!
We walked to the edge of the property to shoot some shots back.
Now that the last thing on the mandatory to do list done, it was time to find our way back to the hotel. Except due to the protests the transit stations are still closed. Ugh. Oh well, Uber it was. Our driver had yet to see the Cathedral after the fire. He was pretty interested and happy he got to drive us there. Those aren’t quite the right words to describe his feelings. The fire seems to have shaken Paris a bit. It is a big deal for sure. They still say it was an accident and not something worse.
Right around our hotel are a lots of touristy but nice restaurants. We choose La Boucherie which was sort of an Italian place. Gluten free options for me. Nice. I ended up choosing duck leg (confit du canard) which is gf anyway. Kris had beef bourguignon. We also had a nice bottle of Cote de Rhone wine. Our waiter seemed impressed that we chose the French wine over the Italian.
And the piece de resistance was a fancy ice cream cone at Amorino made to look like a rose!
A great way to end our layover day in Paris.
We had now been up for about 30 hours and needed to crash. We did snooze a bit on the plane but a real bed and some real sleep was in order. We had an early start to get back to the airport for the CDG -> TNR flight. Another long flight, but that is what you get when you travel to the opposite side of the globe.