Day 7: Triomphing over the Eiffel Tower

Paris has a wonderful night life. You can go clubbing from before the sun goes down to after it rises. Those who know me might be asking, how do I know? I avoid clubs like the plague.

Turns out that across the street from us is a very classy unmarked club. At night the doors open and taxis flood in, full of people dressed in button-up shirts and miniskirts, who then do loud club activities until morning.

At least, that’s what I was told. Ellen and I were lucky in that we got the room away from the street. Everyone else slept in until at least noon, so those of us who woke up watched French cartoons until we left.

It was interesting as a non-French speaker to watch cartoons. Over the course of the morning, the target audience slowly grew older. We started with Les Daltons, an animated show about four Frenchmen stuck in a Nevada prison, and their ultimately unsuccessful attempts to escape. After that was Les Triples, about three triplets who go on adventures (of the sort “we lost our keys in the sand, now we have to find them!”)

The simplified storylines and visual storytelling meant that we could generally tell what was going on and even pick out a word here or there. By early afternoon, once they started the teenage dramas, we had no idea what was happening.

At this point we left for the Arc de Triomph. It was walking distance from our apartment, so we walked rather than take the tube. It was big, and surrounded by a traffic circle, so it was only accessible via a tunnel under the traffic circle and a line.

In lieu of waiting in line for the Arc, we opted to walk to the Eiffel tower, where we’d get a better view of the city anyway. It wasn’t a particularly long walk – we went past a number of shops, before we got our first glimpse of the tower through some buildings. It was definitely a tower. At a thousand feet tall, it looked like it was painted on the sky behind the apartment buildings.

The apartment buildings weren’t small, either, but they were still dwarfed.

We continued walking toward it, using the tower itself as a guide to direct us. We eventually got to the base of the tower, and Ellen, Jason and I spent a few minutes looking across the river at it waiting for the other three to catch up.

The streets were lined with people hawking small pressed metal Eiffel tower models from blankets laid out in front of them. That’s another thing that’s different here compared to London – there are more people in the streets (panhandlers and vendors without fixed shops). At the Eye, the only people selling Eye merchandise was Coca-Cola (although, being Coca-Cola, they probably tried a lot harder for the monopoly).

Once the others arrived, we went to a nearby crepe shop for crepes. I had a chocolate crepe, Jason had a lemon crepe, Ellen got a really good cookie, Kayla got nutella and strawberry banana, and Dad got just nutella and banana and Ryan had a bag of crisps.

Jason’s lemon crepe was incredibly strongly lemony. He called it a “wham-bam” crepe because of how strong it was. He still liked it, though.

Then we went to ascend the tower. There were separate security checkpoints for each pillar and one for the base of the tower as a whole. Remarkably tight security, I thought. Ellen, Jason, and I decided to walk up the tower by stair, and race Dad, Kayla and Ryan who were taking the elevator.

By the first story, we were winded. We rested for a while to meet the others, since they were still in line for the elevator. We collapsed on a bench overlooking the Sienne river, before we started up the stairway to the second level.

After 668 steps, only about 300 feet in the air, we couldn’t look out over the Sienne so much as down on it. This was as far as the stairs went, so we’d have to take an elevator to the top. The levels got progressively more crowded the higher we went – the first level was almost empty, the second was crowded, and the third was jam-packed. You couldn’t move without jostling someone else on the deck. Once you jostle yourself to the fence of the platform, though, the view was amazing.

We could look down on the Arc de Triomph. Across the river were the National Gardens, and down the river was the Louvre. In the distance we could just make out the countryside. There was a kissing spot where you could take selfies of yourself kissing someone else on top of the Eiffel (though nothing was different about that spot than the existence of the designation). There was a champagne bar, which sold ridiculously overpriced water bottles (3 euros for a quarter-liter).

On the way back down, we stopped by the first floor, since the others hadn’t been there yet. This floor had glass panels you could stand on and look straight down to the ground several hundred feet below. We practiced bottle flipping – the art of holding a partially filled bottle, throwing it into a flip, and then landing it right-side up.

I can say that I’ve successfully bottle-flipped on the Eiffel tower.


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