After a series of weekends lost due to the Honey Bee and me alternatively suffering from the flu and other commitments, we finally had an illness and commitment free weekend. As it turns out, this was also a 3 day weekend and to celebrate that fact, we flew to Paris. The last time I visited was almost 10 years ago, and the Honey Bee closer to 20.
As soon as we landed, we took a shuttle into the city and jumped right into it. It was unseasonably cold and quite windy during most of the weekend. We walked along the Seine munching on some delicious and piping hot banana and caramel crepes. We reached the historical Notre-Dame Cathedral, where surprisingly, the admission was free. That also explained the long and winding queue that filled most of the square in front of it. From the inside, it’s a beautiful structure with grand high ceilings and exquisite stained glass windows.
We didn’t want to waste the precious little time we had over a sit down lunch, so we just grabbed some sandwiches and paninis which were pretty good. For dessert, we grabbed another crepe-this time chocolate and banana which we completely destroyed. Next we visited the iconic Eiffel Tower where we learned a lot of interesting things like:
-The design was changed significantly multiple times
-It sways up to 7 centimeters in the wind (which you can feel when you’re at the top)
-It is repainted every 7 years to prevent it from rusting and requires close to 60 tons of paint
-Its color is darkest at the top, and gets progressively lighter towards the bottom.
We climbed the 670 stairs to reach the 115 meter high second floor. Apart from the feeling of accomplishment, it really is worth the effort for the views. On the first floor there is glass flooring that you can stand on and see the ground below from a dizzying height of 57 meters. It is fun to not only stand on it yourself, but also see everyone else try. Some people had no trouble and even lay down on it, while some hesitated (like the Honey Bee), and others outright refused to even approach the glass. Although stairs do exist all the way to the top floor, access is restricted. Visitors have to take the elevator. Unfortunately, at the time the top floor was saturated and access to new visitors was closed.
Also worth paying a visit to is the Flame of Liberty, which is a life-sized replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty. It was gifted by the US to celebrate the centennial celebration of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. It has also become an unofficial memorial for Princess Diana, as it is located just above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel where she perished in a car accident.
Later, we took a short cruise along the Seine. Extremely touristy and way over rated, we probably could have skipped it. I would recommend it only as a nice photo opportunity and a chance to rest your tired legs after running around so much.
For dinner, we grabbed pizza at a very well-known hole in the wall type of restaurant: Pizza Julia. A must try for excellent pizza at a great price, and a warm and hospitable experience.
To top off the day, I surprised the Honey Bee with tickets to the Lido Show (Paris Merveilles). We got our own little booth in the balcony, with drinks. A stunning cabaret experience with an impressive performance accompanied by great toe tapping music, and mind-boggling visuals. The only annoyance was people who would not refrain from clicking pictures on their phones (with the flash activated) even though they were instructed not to. Overall, it was such a great experience that I would recommend it unconditionally to any adult who is visiting Paris.
The next day, we skipped the hotel breakfast for some much-needed shut-eye and instead grabbed a delicious brunch at a fancy but overpriced Bistro on the Champs-Élysées. This was followed by a quick visit to the Arc de Triomphe, and a follow-up visit to the Trocadero Gardens and the Champ de Mars; beautiful gardens near the Eiffel Tower with stunning views that made for some great pictures in a picnicy ambiance.
We wrapped up the trip with the traditional purchase of souvenirs for our collection at home. A few hours later we were back home, our minds chock full of great new Parisian memories. Although we had hoped to relax a little on this trip and not turn it into a high pressure sight-seeing spree, that is exactly what happened. But, we still had a great time.
And now that most of the main sight-seeing is out-of-the-way, the next time we visit Paris we can spend the weekend there relaxing, enjoying good weather while sipping on some wine on Paris’ wide boulevards enjoying grand views of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.