Ellie and I woke up bright and early, overflowing with excitement about climbing the Eiffel Tower. I've been up the ET three times already in my lifetime, but being able to do it with Ellie made me particularly giddy. I knew the lines would be long but I figured if we got there an hour before it even opens, we could be at the front of the line. We metro'd on over only to discover, much to my dismay, that the chaotic maze of lines were already snaking all around the foot of the Eiffel Tower. And, because this is France, and not the US or Germany (hahaha!), there was no "system", no cordoned off ropes to help guide you, just lines of folks in every which direction (there are three entrances to the tower) making it practically impossible to even figure out where the END of the line starts! OY vey! I kept a smile on my face though, not wanting to discourage Ellie as climbing the Eiffel Tower was #1 on her TO DO list while in Paris!
We finally found the end of one line and remained in line for three hours. YES. THREE HOURS. And Ellie? She didn't complain ONCE. I was absolutely shocked. When we finally made it inside the entry and started to climb our way to the second level, she voiced her first complaint. "Mom, I thought you said we were going to CLIMB the Eiffel Tower?!" To which I replied: "Yes honey, that's what we are doing!" (huffing and puffing up the stairs). Total look of disappointment on her face. "But mom, I thought you meant we would put GEAR ON and like, you know, CLIMB IT!?" She makes the hand motions of literally climbing, ie: scaling, up the outside of the Eiffel Tower at which point I burst into laughter! That's my girl! Merely walking up the stairs is JUST NOT ENOUGH. She had visions of mountaineering the Eiffel Tower.... Love that kid. We get to the second level and walk around taking pictures and enjoying the view before waiting in line another 30 minutes to take the elevator to the tippity top (no stairs go up to that level). We get up there, take more pictures, enjoy more stunning views and then head down to the second level via elevator and then walk down to the bottom floor. It was fabulous and despite the let down of not having been able to climb the outside of it, she still had a blast!
We then rushed to meet Agnes and her son and a very dear Middle School friend and her two daughters for a picnic in the park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. This friend, Martha, lives in Elk Grove but we haven't seen each other in YEARS. It just so happened that we were, strangely enough, BOTH in Paris AT THE SAME TIME! So, of course, we had to meet up! We enjoyed an amazing picnic lovingly prepared by Agnes (more cheese and chocolate of course!) and then took Martha's girls and Ellie to the nearby playground to let them play (Ellie was happy to have an English speaking playmate!) while the mommies caught up! It was a gorgeous day and felt so nice to reconnect IN PERSON. Nothing against Facebook, but it's just not quite the same as face to face contact! :)
After that Ellie and I did the whole "wait in line for 30 minutes to use a disgusting, revolting, awful, pungent, repulsive public restroom" routine which is fairly typical in France. Side note: THIS product absolutely was indispensable throughout our trip. We sprayed this on our hands about twenty times a day, after each trip to the restroom, after each bus or metro ride, etc... I am able to confidently assert that this was the first time I didn't get sick on a vacation thanks to this item. AMAZING product. I always keep one in my car and one in my purse.
Then, we took the metro over to Notre Dame Cathedral. Honestly, it doesn't matter how many times I've gone (over the years) into the many stunning churches in France, it literally takes my breath away EACH and EVERY time. It's an EXPERIENCE. That's the best way to describe it. The wait to climb to the top and see the gargoyles up close and personal was about 3 hrs and since we had already done a 3 hr wait for the Eiffel Tower, neither Ellie nor I was up for that line. But we did do the 30 mn wait to get inside. Looking at Ellie's face when we walked in was priceless. Her jaw dropped, her eyes got HUGE and the awe on her face was something I will never forget. We walked around, took some pictures and then went to the "prayer area" where Ellie asked me if she could sit down (with all the grown ups praying) and say a quiet prayer all on her own. So, I let her. And she definitely had her own special moment inside of Notre Dame, all her own.
Once outside we walked over the bridge of lovers, where couples in love put a lock on the bridge fence to "seal" their love and then throw the key into the Seine river below. It's very French. Such romantics those frenchies. :)
Then we walked along the Seine and enjoyed the wonderfully quaint little vendors all along the side of the Seine in that neighborhood while partaking in an ice cream cone. Absolutely lovely.
We worked out way down to the entrance to the Bateaux Mouches which are very large tourist boats which go up and down the Seine so you can get a river-rat view of the architecture and monuments that lounge the Seine River. By then we'd been on our feet ALL day and I knew a relaxing boat ride would be perfect for us to unwind before taking the metro back home to Agnes's for dinner. The boat ride was, yes, very touristy, but also fun and cheap enough that I would totally recommend it. Next time, I'd love to have a meal or snack on the "floating restaurants" which are actually big shipping boats converted into permanently docked restaurants along the Seine. They were all so colorful and funky! We then took the metro back to Agnes's neighborhood, picked up groceries and headed back to the apartment for bath, dinner, SLEEP! :) Another FANTASTIC day in Paris.
Here are some snapshots of that day.
REMINDER: THESE ARE ALL EITHER IPHONE PHOTOS OR POINT AND SHOOT PHOTOS!!! THEY DO NOT REFLECT THE QUALITY OF MY PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY WORK IN ANY WAY!!! PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND!!! THESE WERE MERELY SNAPSHOTS!!!! *added: these snapshots showed up VERY pixelated on this post, no idea what is going on, so I apologize for the extra poor quality*