This post is in continuation of Meeting with Monalisa and Mr. Eiffel – Part 1.
We had already met Monalisa and were going to meet Mr. Gustave Eiffel (The person engineered Eiffel tower).
We left Louvre and were really hungry by that time. It was around 4′o clock in the evening and we hadn’t taken our lunch as yet. So we started searching for a place for a quick bite . We saw some of the coffee places on a road outside Louvre and chose one of them. I don’t remember what I ate, probably an omelet, few breads and a coffee but it was very expensive. We ended our lunch and after paying bill we came back on the road.
When we decided to plan for Paris, I had done this agreement with my fellow traveler (Ankur) that we would not hurry to cover too many places but would stick to only few places and spend enough time there. We started our trip with only two things in our itinerary 1) Louvre & Monalisa 2) Eiffel tower. After reaching Paris and Completing 1st one we still did not want to disturb our itinerary. We knew that we had enough time to cover the next step.
We started walking towards the main road to come out of the market place (where we had our lunch), and reached an entrance of a park. I guess this was the park mentioned in Da Vinci code just outside Louvre. Its name is Jarden Tuileries in French, which means Garden Tuileries in English , I guess. It is a huge garden and was looking even bigger because of less people there.
Weather was not good and was very very windy and probably that was the reason why lesser people were in the garden that day. We were heading towards another side of park and suddenly we got a clear view of Eiffel tower. It was not visible near the entrance because of buildings and trees around. We were charged again by just a look of Eiffel tower!
Being Eiffel Tower, it did not seem to be too far (because of its size) and we decided to walk. We were now out of the garden and were at some square. After crossing the square we were walking along with the river Seine. By this time when we were actually spending time in city, we were very much impressed with the place and its beauty. Paris has some different kind of beauty which is incomparable with any other place. It is kind of perfect mixture of vastness, history, architecture, cleanliness and lot more adjectives.
We were walking very close to river and saw few boat cruises passing us. As we were approaching the tower, we started sensing the height of it. After around 3.5 km of walking, we were finally at the base of the tower. Boy, what a huge structure and what a piece of engineering! I was staring at it continuously with my mouth open and was totally mesmerized by its beauty. After the initial shock we came back to the excited state (not at all normal) and jumped to our cameras to take snaps. It was 6pm and we had few moments in sun light. We took some snaps quickly and then started roaming around.
Eiffel tower is the tallest building in Paris and one of the most recognized structures in the world. It’s height is 325m including the antenna (24m) at the top. The construction completed in 1889 and it was tallest tower of the world at that time. Now, it is fifth tallest structure in France and tallest in Paris. It has three levels, First, Second and Top. First and second floors are accessible by stairways and lift. Top level, only by lift.
1. Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but those responsible at the Barcelona city hall thought it was a strange and expensive construction, which did not fit into the design of the city.
2. Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years, meaning it would have had to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiration of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne, and it therefore became a victory statue of that battle.
3. Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers and other notable people.
4. The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes.
5. More than 200,000,000 people have visited the tower since its construction in 1889.
6. Since 2004, the Eiffel Tower has hosted an ice skating rink on the first floor during the winter period.
7. There is a small restaurant at level 2 and you can have a coffee there :-)
Back to the scene. As you have read above that you can actually go to the top of tower, we also decided to experience it on the next morning. So now we were free to spend our evening before this world famous structure. We crossed the river and settled down in a garden just in front of the tower.
One more interesting thing about Eiffel tower, in the evening time, when its lights are not fully lit, it sparkles. There is no certain time for this sparkling activity and happens randomly few times in the evening so you can also miss it even if you are there. So keep staring at the tower if you want to catch it :-)
When it was complete dark, the tower looked quite different but again “Beautiful”.
After spending some more time there we decided to move to our hostel. We searched for nearest metro station and headed back to our hostel. We had our dinner near hostel and then went to sleep. It was a day full of activity and a lot of walking. Had a good night’s sleep.
Next morning we had to reach at the base of Eiffel early so that we could avoid the long queue at ticket window. So we got up early on next morning, checked-out from our room and left our bags in locker of the hostel. We had breakfast and then left for Eiffel tower. Morning was nice with clouds in the sky. We took metro and reached tower’s base in time and got our tickets for the elevator to the top.
Picture from second floor
Our first stop was second floor. where we had to come out of lift and take different one for the top. We stepped out of lift and WOW, what a scene it was! Everything seemed to be so small at ground, we started taking pictures of places where we spent time last evening. There is a restaurant on this floor and you can have your breakfast here as well. Rates are slightly on the higher side, they make sense considering the location. We spent some time on second floor and then boarded on the lift for the top floor.
Within seconds, we were there. I have no words to explain the excitement of that moment. Every thing below seemed like miniatures.Wind speed was very high at the top and we felt the periodic motion of platform back and forth because of wind :-).There is a cabin also at the top where distances are mentioned for some international cities in specific directions.
Spent some more time there and then came back to earth.
It was our last day of visit and time was around 11am. Since our decided itinerary was complete, now we could cover few more places. So we started roaming around. We found a museum near Eiffel tower and decided to give it a try. It was “The Marine Museum”. This was not very big museum but covered many things about the history of French Navy with ship models and some models of modern Navy. Get more details by clicking here.
It was noon when we left the museum and we started looking for food. We were walking towards Louvre because we had to reach Paris North station by evening which was in same direction. We got into a street there that had plenty of restaurants and chose one with “English speaking”. Yes, this was an attribute of that restaurant and you hardly get this kind of restaurant in Paris easily. It is kind of strange that being such a big tourist place, local people doesn’t use English much.
Anyway, this time we discussed enough with the restaurant person about the dishes and had a satisfactory meal. After that we again started towards Louvre. We found two more places in our route toward Louvre i.e. Opera and Place Royal which we intentionally missed on first day of visit to keep our itinerary intact.
Paris Opera: The Palais Garnier, also known as the Opéra de Paris or Opéra Garnier or Grand Opera House, but more commonly as the Paris Opéra, is a 2,200-seat opera house in Paris, France. A grand landmark designed by Charles Garnier in the Neo-Baroque style, it is regarded as one of the architectural masterpieces of its time. Read more about it
Palace Royal: The palace originally was the home of Cardinal Richelieu, one of the cardinals in 15th century. It was completed in 1624. During the lifetime of the cardinal, the palace was known as the Palais Cardinal. Over the centuries this place was home for many other people and after the revolution of 1848, under the Second Empire the Palais-Royal was home to the cadet branch of the Bonaparte family, represented by Prince Napoleon, Napoleon III’s cousin.
Today it houses the Constitutional Council, and the Ministry of Culture. At the rear of the garden are the older buildings the national library of deposit, with a collection of more than 6,000,000 books, documents, maps, and prints; most of the collections have been moved to more modern settings elsewhere. Read more about it
We could see these places only from outside, because they were closed probably because of Sunday or some other reason. We were very near to Louvre so went to its courtyard again and took some more pictures.
Louvre Pyramids from back side
Statue out side Louvre
Now it was almost 4pm and we had to catch the train back to Amsterdam at 5pm so we headed back to hostel to get our bags and then rushed to Paris-Nord. Thalys was waiting for us for the return journey.
Few tips from whatever I saw and experienced there, though I have seen very little of Paris:
a. It was one of the most expensive weekend trips we had. 400 Euros per person. It is an expensive place.
b. Don’t miss the top of Eiffel tower.
c. Walk around the places near Eiffel and Louvre.
d. Use metro for local transportation.
e. Search for English speaking place to eat if you are not good in French ;-)