Tag Archives: Eiffel Tower

Back to the tower

15th July 2013

I called in to the tourist office during my second week in Paris to ask about booking a ticket to go up the Eiffel Tower; the guy I was speaking to actually laughed in my face when I said I wanted it for during the next week. I couldn’t believe how rude he was – “don’t you know Paris is the most visited city in the world, and the Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument in Paris? You have to book months ahead”. So, instead of buying multiple tickets from them I just left with a smile and a “merci”, all the while muttering under my breath about typical bloody Parisians. WELL, I went online and bought a ticket to go up the Eiffel Tower for 3 or 4 days ahead, no trouble at all – and without any snooty attitude, too. So today it’s Centre Pompidou in the morning and Eiffel Tower ride in the afternoon.

breaky while waiting for the centre pompidou to open

brekky while waiting for the centre pompidou to open

Surprisingly, I was too early at the Pompidou, I’m not usually one to arrive before the museums open; must be the excitement of going up the tower later. There’s never a shortage of people to watch over here so I sat and had the yummiest coffee and chocolate croissant for breakfast and took in all the activity around. A woman in long lacy skirts and woolen coat with a couple of wicker baskets floated past the coffee shop a couple of times. After a while she plonked herself down in the middle of the huge cement area in front of the Pompidou, set about unpacking her baskets and began making beaded jewellery – she was still there four hours later when I came out, woolen coat and all in the boiling heat.

Lichtenstein at the Centre Pompidou

Lichtenstein at the Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou houses the modern art gallery among other things and the building is so not Paris, but totally suits its role. The air conditioning barrels and I don’t know what else are on the outside of the building, it’s brightly coloured and very modern looking. I just loved the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition, and was happy when I found plenty of biographical info to read along the way as well as marveling at his style. I did my usual backtracking a few times through the center, I always feel like if I go too slowly to start with I won’t get to see it all, so I wander back and forth all over the place. I think I say this every time I see another modern art gallery, but, this one is really something wonderful.

One of the things I’ve noticed about myself is when I’m on a good thing I stick to it, I’ve mastered trains and subways and rarely venture on to buses. So with that in mind I decided to catch a bus to the Eiffel Tower. I wandered back towards the city and caught the right bus. Everything was going fine until we turned up a street with a truck blocking the way, nothing unusual there, it often happens, but they mostly move on quickly. Not this time, without a word of a lie, it was at least 15 minutes before word filtered to the bus driver that the truck had broken down and we wouldn’t be going anywhere in the foreseeable future. You can imagine what had been going on until then, all this french being thrown around, lots of hand waving and shouting, then it just went quiet and everyone got off the bus and walked away. Bloody hell, I had no idea where I was and my ticket for the tower was for about half an hours time – see what happens when you don’t stick to what you know!!

lift driver going down the eiffel tower

lift driver going down the Eiffel Tower

Best I could do, I figured, was head back towards where I reckoned the river was and go from there. That seemed to be okay but after about ten minutes I decided I wasn’t going to make it in time by walking so hailed a taxi; thank goodness I did because it was still miles away even then. Times like these are when I wish I had better phone service/data plan or something, half the time when I need directions I don’t seem to be able to get service, grrrrrrr. But………….. I got there in time, took miles more photos, pinched myself again and went to the supposed quick line for those with tickets, and waited, and waited and bloody waited. Again word filtered through – they were evacuating all the levels of the tower and not letting anyone else up, no idea why though. You wouldn’t read about it would you? Finally, an hour and a half after my allotted time they started taking people up again. Apparently, (not sure how true it was) a backpack had been found up top which caused a bomb alert, everyone had to be taken down, bomb squad went up – just someones backpack left accidentally, no bomb, grrrrrrr again!

It was all worth it though and wouldn’t have missed it for quids. I liked the fact that you’re not herded up and back with no time to just enjoy, you can stay pretty much as long as you like. I took plenty of time and had a chocolate crêpe at the place near the carousel before I left – more calories than I like to think about, but, oh so yummy.

Not content with my day so far I then wandered pretty much aimlessly over the other side of the river until my feet started protesting too much and I found a metro to take me home. To cap off an eventful day I had the loveliest chat with a woman at ‘my’ bar near the apartment. She grew up in the 19th arrondissement but has lived away for years and was just home for a visit. She had about as much English as I had French, but we chatted for ages with lots of sign language,laughter and a couple of wines – meeting people like that has got to be one of the best parts of travelling.

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Cute apartment with a view

13th July 2013

Eiffel Tower from apartment

Eiffel Tower from apartment

I just love my little apartment; it has two sets of french doors leading out to a tiny balcony with a weeny cute table and chairs – and a view of the Eiffel Tower!!! I guess it’s quite a distance away, but still, it’s right there, and I feel like I just want to sit there all week looking at it. And…. I didn’t get lost on the way either – pretty good I’d say. Booked through airbnb for the first time, and haven’t had any problems, everything is as advertised and the owner seems nice. Booking.com will wonder what has happened to me the last couple of weeks, it’s the longest I haven’t used them since I left home!

First thing was to buy a few supplies, easier said than done, I’ve found, sometimes. I’m pretty sure the person I asked about a supermarket told me there was one just up a side street. I didn’t find it, but there’s a little fruit and veg shop, a boulangerie and a couple of bars really close by, so in the end the essentials were fairly easy to come by.  My building has a café on the ground floor too so it was all looking good enough to go exploring for the rest of my first afternoon in the 19th.

Paris from Parc des Butte Chaumant

Paris from Parc des Butte Chaumant

As the Parc des Buttes Chaumant was only a block away it seemed a good place to spend the afternoon. It’s very much a natural parkland, so different to the highly manicured gardens in the city that it felt almost like I was in a different city altogether – except for the stunning vista of the Sacre Coeur from one of  the highest points. Drawing the Temple de la Sibylle kept me occupied and happily observing  the comings and goings for quite a while. Then just walking through the lovely gardens helped me feel more settled than I’ve been for the last two weeks and although I haven’t completely recovered from my tummy troubles I’m hoping this week to find the Paris I came here looking for.

To cap off a pretty smooth day I enjoyed practicing my French with the owner at the bar where I stopped for a wine on the way home. Then – nibblies on the balcony for dinner while soaking up the fact that, wow, here I am, in Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower put on it’s nightly light show!!

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Just two places in a whole day – leisurely sightseeing

6th – 7th July 2013

Well, I timed that right – feeling much better for a week-end full of exploring Paris!

The Louvre, Paris

The Louvre, Paris

And just because I could, I caught the metro again, but, guess what – the thrill is quickly wearing off, lol. Getting off at the Louvre though was still a tad exciting, not that I had planned on going inside, I was just happy to look around the outside. Somewhere in my travels I’d heard about the Batobus, a hop on hop off boat that stops near all the touristy places along the river. So, towards the river I headed and sure enough, there was one of the Batobus just waiting for me to buy a ticket and hop on board.

Ahha. there it is!

Ahha. there it is!

To make it even better, the next stop was the Eiffel Tower, just where I wanted to go. It’s a wonderful feeling, motoring along the Seine and seeing it come into view, getting larger and more impressive the closer you get, craning your neck back to get a better view. I wonder what it is about the Eiffel Tower that makes such a strong connection with people of all ages and backgrounds. I know it’s fascinated me for years, and some of the younger ones in my language classes have said they’d happily set up camp beneath the tower if they could.

Playing games in Paris

Playing games in Paris

Being extra vigilant, because of all the warnings of pickpockets, I went with the flow up the stairs and across the street to just stand there and look. Wow, I was really here, at the Eiffel Tower, on my own too, so I could sit and look all day if I wanted to. Which is pretty much what I did for the next few hours, I drifted around the area looking from all directions. I sat and had a chocolate crepe across near the carousel, watched the people with the three cups and a little object hustling people for their money, was asked fifty times if I spoke English by girls trying to get me to sign something – think the green eyes and blonde hair might have been a give-away, but I just kept shaking my head and they eventually went away, sat on the grass behind the tower  sketching and people watching, went down by the river for a wine and late lunch.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Musee d’Orsay, Paris

Deciding I’d best not set up camp just yet, I ‘batobused’ back to the Musee d’Orsay where I spent more hours happily strolling through what I’ve just learnt was once a railway station. Degas, Monet, Manet, Sisley and even the Whistler were some of my favourites I found, but really, there’s too many paintings and sculptures that intrigue me to remember even half of them. Even good old Charles Rennie Mackintosh was represented, and Gaudi too – whose work I’m so looking forward to seeing in Barcelona.

Sylvia's lock, Paris

Sylvia’s lock, Paris

Not really having a plan, and feeling a tad foot-sore by now, I crossed the river via one of Paris’s bridges with all the locks attached, the Pont des Arts , I think, for a little wander along the other side before making my way back ‘home’. Oh, it was nice to arrive at the bar down the end of the street where Josette’s flat is, sit out the front with a cold glass of wine, a few peanuts and just relive my day. Even better was knowing I can do it all again tomorrow if I like – but maybe tomorrow I’ll go somewhere else!

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Tummy trouble – arghhhhh!

3rd – 5th July 2013

Warning, warning – discontent and upset approaching!!!

All I can say is you must have to be awfully sick to die. For the last few days I’ve felt like death warmed up and it’s been terribly hard work to keep going to school and do a little sightseeing. All I’ve felt like doing is curling up on the bed and sleeping – in between visits to the bathroom. I’m positive my sickness has been food related – and not food I’ve bought in the city either.

I think I’ve worked out a system though for not eating suspect food at my place of residence. If Josette is eating, I eat, if she’s only feeding it to me and has no intention of eating with me I don’t eat. And tell me, if you knew someone had been sick for three days would you try and give them bought frozen fish fingers for dinner? Bloody hell, I wouldn’t feed anyone frozen fish fingers at any time, let alone someone who is paying me board and is suffering in the tummy already. Thank goodness for Deb and the people in my own class at school, without them around I think I would have just sat in a corner and cried.

Courtyard of LSI Paris building

Courtyard of LSI Paris building

Okay – enough said, but I’ve spoken to the school and hopefully things will improve next week, because, who wants to be in Paris and only see the inside of every toilet you pass? And to top it all off, I’ve lost my coat in the last 3 days too – the one I bought in Brighton after I left my first one in a restaurant somewhere!!

Rocking up to a chemist and getting antibiotics over the counter from a pharmacist who claims not to speak English but then gives me the instructions in near perfect English was an experience worth remembering. I learnt that day that asking a French person if they speak English is just asking for trouble. Thank goodness I followed up with my really quite terrible French and was rewarded with smiles and helpfulness.

Fountain just donw the road

Fountain just donw the road

I headed back to the 12th straight after school one afternoon, to, I’m not sure what, maybe feel sorry for myself, explore my ‘hood or be close to the loo. I ended up doing all three, then bought myself a new light coat and sketched the fountain just down the road too – pretty good for feeling like c#%p. I just love the typical Paris apartment blocks, especially the ones with the tall grey rooflines, I seem to walk around with a permanent crick in my neck from always looking up.

I got my first glimpse of La Tour Eiffel from the Jardin des Tuileries one afternoon on our way to see the Musee de L’Orangerie. It just sort of crept up on us and all of a sudden I realized the spire I could see way way off in the distance couldn’t be anything else. Wow, what a moment, think this was when I finally believed I was in Paris!

My first view of the Eiffel Tower

My first view of the Eiffel Tower

Then to see the two rooms of Monet’s Water Lilies was just the icing on the cake.

Even before we got into the gallery I had another nice surprise. Deb and I were waiting in line when I saw a woman I recognised, but couldn’t remember for a little while where I knew her from. Then her family joined her and we all realised we’d sat together on the Eurostar last weekend. What’s the chances of running into them again at one of the lesser known galleries in Paris?

Claude Monet’s Nymphéas (Water Lilies) paintings were captivating – two large oval rooms with his gorgeous canvas panels lining the walls. We could, both of us, have sat for hours, I think, just looking at them. We stayed so long there that we didn’t see much of the rest of the gallery before closing time, but we both left happy that we’d had time to really sit and savour Monet.

 

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