Bonjour! Although we were a group of 'sept' coming from 'twa' different hotels from across Paris, we all met at 9am on the steps of Sacre Couer to view Paris from atop this famous vantage point. Kate and I had made good time from Hotel Little Regina and using the spare 10 minutes before the rest of Team Stewart arrived, discovered a quant little Boulangerie and sampled our first French croissant and pain au chocolat, washing down our breakfast with a very strong petite cafe.
On arrival of the rest of the Stewarts, we commenced our accent of Sacre Couer, just as the day's first rain shower began, and everyone except me donned rain jackets (I conveniently don't own one despite living in Scotland!). Everyone successfully ascended the giant stair case, scoffing at the tourists taking the lazy gondola option. We enjoyed the views from the top, and shoed away pesky hawkers trying to sell us crappy handbags, miniature Eiffel Towers and perform magic string tricks. I need to learn what "bugger off" in French is...
Our decent of Sacre Couer brought on Kate's first jump shot, welcome to the club Kate!!
We then Metro'd onward to visit
the Louvre Museum and see her famous little painting. Despite not being art buffs at all, its hard not to be impressed with the history, beauty and magnificance of the artwork on display. Always up for a good quote, Keith told me that if you stopped and looked at every piece of art for 2 seconds each, it would take you 2 days to walk around the Louvre...we only had 2 hours before lunch!! So many pieces depict either angels, religion or babies being nursed. Others showing more violent themes such a beheadings and battle scenes, why you would sit there and pick up a paint brush instead of a sword, I'd never know.
We pushed and elbowed our way to the front to take a photo of the most photographed lady in the world, said our Bonjour's to Mona Lisa and then scrambled out of the way. We all reckon that there are much better paintings on display, like the huge one directly infront of Mona depicting Jesus having a meal with heaps of people (not the Last Supper) and overhearing a guy say to his girlfriend "and that's the Last Supper"...we may know nothing about art but
this guy had know idea.
We completed our Louvre tour perusing crazy Pacific islands artifacts of human skulls, giant wooden cravings of heads and raunchy statues. Finally, it all got too stuffy and the bell was ringing for our picnic lunch so we called an end to our cultural experience and headed for the glass Pyramid exit.
Back out in the open, we located a perfect spot for a group jump shot, with the Lourve Pyramid in the background. Despite numerous attempts and interested onlookers, we got Team Stewart, Kate and myself midair and perfectly timed.
Lunchtime - we ventured into the gardens out of front of the Lourve where Matt and Patsy had setup an amazing picnic lunch of baguettes, ham, salami and salad...washed down with French Champagne. Luckily, the weather was kind to us and the rain stayed away. Perfect opportunity for more photos of the lovely backdrop holding champagne flutes.
To let our food go down, we strolled through the gardens, taking in more crazy statues and Paris' famous Giant Pencil, or what Rach was describing to everyone as the Giant Pencil.
Our afternoon saw us venture to see the Hunchback of
Notre Dame, although on exiting the station we walked straight into a Paris downpour!! It was bucketing!! Not quite sure why we stopped to ponder the situation for 2 mins huddling under umbrellas however common sense finally prevailed and we scampered across the road into the nearest coffee shop to dry off and refuel our dwindling caffeine stores. Coffee done and rain stopped, we went across the road and stood in line for the entrance to the famous church. On looking upward, we were disappointed not to spot ol' Hunchy jumping between the gargoyles. We ventured through the old church, keeping a close watch on eagle-eye Frenchy's trying to stop us from taking photos, said our little prayers (but disappointingly no-one used the confessional).
We exited the church and considered going to the lookout however at EUR10 a pop and a line 100m big, we reconsidered thinking there may be a better vantage point in town to see Paris from the air...
We wandered around the back on the church, took photos with Rach saying "its pretty black and ugly out the back..." She took a photo anyway. We then came across a Love Bridge (or Commitment Bridge,
we weren't sure which one), admired the vast array of padlocks and bike locks with various engravings, I wonder how many of these couples are still together now.
We looked upward and decided that the Paris weather was once again starting to close in, and headed for the nearest Metro to head toward Lafayette Shopping Mall. A shop 8 floors high and cram packed full of people and designer labels. Nearly everything was 15% or 30% off and I was a bit suspicious that nobody would pay top dollar for some of the crap that we saw. Surprisingly, Kate spotted a perfect Paris tshirt that Glenda had been trying to find as a gift (it was even designer label!).
We finished our spot of shopping and having worked up an appetite found a perfect French Italian Restaurant for our final meal in Paris. I need to fuel myself with courage as opposed to pizza as it was decided the young-crew would tackle to steps of the Eiffel Tower at night.
We arrived at the tower at around 9pm, just as dusk was turning into night and the lights were starting to take their affect. We waiting in
line for the staircase entrance, and on having our bags checked, Matt amusingly was told that he was not allowed to take his 2 cans of beer up the top of the tower therefore had to scull them down before we got to the front of the line!
We finally got through security and commenced the 600 steps upward. Halfway up to the second level, we heard a giant cheer and saw the tower light up as strobe lights flickered on the entire tower, and thousands of flashes took off from ground level. Luckily for us, we weren't epileptic. Up on the second level, my nerves were beginning to show (For those that don't know me, I'm petrified of heights and falling to my own death), having ascended 100m and looking for the most unusual way I could somehow fall off the tower. We took in the sights and photos and then made our way to stand in line for 'Le Summit'. Whilst waiting in line, I pondered to Kate "I wonder how many people have fallen off the tower to their death..."
We shot up the elevator at a rate of knots and
all our stomachs were beginning to churn as we made it to level 3, 281m above the ground. I would have moments of courage, walking around the fence line and posing for photos before having to make my way to the safety of the inside.
Having got our fair share of dizzying heights, we lined up for the lift back down...and I'm not sure how the tower didn't topple over as there seemed to be hundreds of people crammed into the tiny space that occupied the top of the tower.
We descended via lift and then stairs, and it was a welcoming leap for me as I landed back on Tirra Firma. We completed the day with a lovely walk back through the Eiffel Tower's gardens in torrential rain, but not before a final shot of a kiss, Rach and I underneath an umbrella.
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