Day 3 Paris Trip: Notre Dame and The Eiffel Tower

January 21, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in France, General, Out and About, Paris, photos, Tourism, Travel | Leave a comment
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I woke up late on day 3, got ready quickly and headed to my next stop in the high places of Paris Tour (having done the culturally high yesterday). My first stop was the Notre Dame cathedral but first I made a detour by a popular crepe maker so I could get a life supply of Nutella smeared onto a crepe and later my face.

I’d originally planned to go to the Notre Dame via the Hotel de Ville – seat of Parisian government – so I could try the temporary ice skating rink that had been set up outside. Fortunately I didn’t have to embarrass myself trying to skate as I didn’t bring any gloves and these are apparently a necessity. I’m not sure why as the ice wasn’t exactly frozen.

Hotel de Ville (6) Hotel de Ville (4)

At any rate I walked over the Seine to the plaza in front of the cathedral before walking in and doing another quick loop inside.

Notre Dame (56) Notre Dame (2) Notre Dame Notre Dame (6)

Not a whole lot of content although there is an audio guide you can pick up if you like. I also paid a few Euros to look through the treasury or a sample of the treasury. It wasn’t very interesting but I felt obliged to go in after coming all the way.

The high ceilings reminded me of St Paul’s and I assume when I get there, Westminister Abbey, as well. While impressive it didn’t live up to expectations and fantasy.

On the other hand the real reason to go (unless you’re here for prayer) is to climb to the top and look out over the city. I had to wait about 20 minutes before beginning the climb. I was relieved to be in the middle of the pack as I doubt I could maintain the pace for that long. Luckily, for those who do tire out completely there are alcoves to stop and let others pass. Priests in the cathedral’s hey day must have been pretty fit with all the stair climbing and bell ringing!

Notre Dame (48) Notre Dame (50)

Once you reach the top, take the requisite photos and move over to a bell tower. After navigating the small wooden stairs you can admire the bell and think of Quasi Modo.

Notre Dame (35) Notre Dame (37)

Of course, there are also the cathedral’s famed gargoyles!

Notre Dame (40) Notre Dame (22) Notre Dame (33)

Afterwards you cross to the second tower and climb up to the viewing platform with even more views of the city.

Notre Dame (51) Notre Dame (45)

Lastly, you’ll climb all the way down and back to the cathedral’s courtyard.

I now made my way down through the Latin Quarter (more on that tomorrow), the train and my next stop the Eiffel Tower

I knew the Eiffel Tower was large but I never appreciated how large or how much it would dominate the city skyline.

Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower (2)

It wasn’t until I stood right under it that I began to comprehend its enormity.

Eiffel Tower (4) Eiffel Tower (5)

My other reaction to its sheer size and all those nuts and bolts was thinking about giant robot anime shows but that’s probably just me.

Even though it was late afternoon there were still quite a few people lining up. I’d been advised to walk up to the second level as this line usually went faster than the elevator queue. Walking up the Eiffel Tower was an experience and later on the return journey I felt a surge of accomplishment. Though that might be adrenaline as I was running down to catch the light show.

I’m getting a bit ahead, let’s rewind. You can walk around the first level or continue walking up to the second level.

Eiffel Tower (18)

In retrospect you can keep going as the views won’t shift dramatically between the two but in terms of a sense of completion I walked around the sides first before moving up.

Eiffel Tower (12)

On the second level I saw a woman who’d joined the elevator queue while I went for the walking option, so perhaps climbing isn’t a faster option or taking my time on level 1 was were I lost out.

Eiffel Tower (15)

Level 2 doesn’t take that much time to walk around and as dusk was rapidly setting in I was eager to reach the top.

Eiffel Tower (19)

Having only paid for the stairs I needed to purchase an additional ticket for the viewing platform elevator. After waiting in line for a few minutes I was whisked up to the top and looking out from the elevator was amazing as the city expanded and glowed below.

The elevator was just the warm up for the main attraction on the viewing platform, which is divided into enclosed and an open area above.

Eiffel Tower (29) Eiffel Tower (25)

Originally I’d wanted to see the city in daylight but as with so much the unexpected turned out to be the better experience. Paris is a relatively flat city so while there are these excellent vantage points dotted around you can almost be excused for thinking you were at the same spot and there is only so much of an expanding city you can look at before it loses its intrigue. That is until you’re on the Eiffel Tower at night.

Eiffel Tower (22) Eiffel Tower (28)

The city lit up looks fantastic. I’m going to misuse the term here but in this context it really is a city of light.

Eiffel Tower (27) Eiffel Tower (30)

Only the blustery wind and the extremely long queues to return to Level 2 put a dampener on my mood.

But this was short-lived because as I climbed down the Eiffel Tower’s light show began and it looked incredibly picturesque all lit up and with bulbs flashing everywhere. Unfortunately night images of the Tower are copyrighted by the authorities.

I know it’s a tourist cliche but the Eiffel Tower is definitely worth a visit. I would suggest at the end of your trip because you’ll be able to look out over the city at everywhere you’ve been and hopefully reminisce about all of the good times.

Onto day 4!

More photos on Flickr.

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