June 28, 2015 (Tuesday) – We managed to pack a lot in this day. Morning at the Musee d’Orsay. A quick visit to the Rodin Museum. Paid our respects to Napoleon Bonaparte. Walked through the history of French military. Grabbed gelato on Rue Cler. We were now making our way to the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower.
The other evening on Sunday, we had arrived at the Eiffel Tower, but we had a glass carafe in our bag and were not allowed up. So here we were. It was late in the afternoon. The summer sun was still high in the sky. So no sunset at the Eiffel Tower for us, but the crowds were much thinner on this Tuesday.
There was a choice between taking the elevator or the stairs. We decided for the stairs. It was a much shorter queue and we still had energy to climb the tower. The climb up is actually educational, as well. There are information boards at many of the landings on the way up.
We hit the the first level and explored the shops. My wife had been looking for an honest-to-God Eiffel Tower model. We found one in the souvenir shop. More decor for the home, I guess.There was the glass floor where we saw many tourists lying flat on the floor and using their selfie sticks to capture their moment of silliness.
There was also a cafe on this floor that offered a view eastward of the Champs de Mars and the Ecole Militaire at the end of it. In the distance, the black monolith of the Montparnasse Tower popped up above the Parisian skyline.
Once we were done with the first level, we made our way up the stairs again to the second level. More photos of the skyline were taken. To the south, we noticed a block of really modern buildings. Apparently there’s a block of really modern buildings just to the south of the Eiffel Tower along the River Seine. It was a strange juxtaposition of this 20th Century glass and concrete in the middle of all the traditional Parisian low-rises.
In order go further up from the second level to the top of the Eiffel Tower, we had to line up and buy tickets for the elevator. The queue wrapped around much of the second level and was directly in the beating afternoon sun. Boy. Was it ever hot lining up for our tickets to go up. Then we had to line up for the elevator next.
Once up on top, Paris flattened out below us. In general, there is not much height to the Parisian skyline. “Taller” buildings like the Basicilica of Sacre-Coeur were just blending in with the rest of the Parisian buildings below. To the west, we could see the modern skyscraper collection that is La Defense. Those buildings definitely popped out of the landscape over the rest of 8-storey Paris.
The big draw of the Eiffel Tower is the romanticism of the landmark. However, with the crowds, it loses a bit of that aura. The hot June sun didn’t help either. However, I can at least say I did it and saw it and climbed it.