Friday morning started with a traditional French breakfast, a croissant. Sounds cliche' but breakfast at any cafe is typically coffee, oj, a piece of bread with butter and jam and a croissant. All this bread is doing wonders for my muffin top! lol We were on our way to find a free walking tour of the famour landmarks in Paris.
We met our guide and four others in front of the Garnier Opera house, where the legend of the phantom of the opera originated. Apparently there is a water reservoir ten stories underneath the Opera where our famous phantom is said to have died in the construction. Our guide actually went to boarding school decades ago in this very opera house and insists there is no phantom. Ghost or no ghost, it was stunning, aside from the tacky gold paint they added to some of the railings and statues, which wasn't part of the original design. The opera provided an outlet for the rich to socialize, and was a nightly affair. Napolean III or V or something (don't quote me on that) was the King at the time and had his own entrance so he wouldn't have to mingle amongst
the "riff raff."
Our guide also took us to the fashion district of Paris where you'll find all the biggest labels and the Ritz hotel, where Princess Diana had her last meal before the tragic accident. The esplanade in the center is believed to have been the inspiration for the ever popular square-cut diamond (not sure if we buy it). One of the jewelers in this area has been supplying royalty with their bling since the mid 1600s! After window shopping for several blocks we ended in the Jardin des Tuileries, which leads to the Louvre. The guide gave us a brief overview then showed us to the Place de la Concorde, where the streets ran red with the blood of monarchs and commoners who lost their heads to the guillotine. We ended the tour on that happy note and began our journey to the Tour Eiffel.
I bet most of you know that the Eiffel Tower was created at the Worlds' Fair at the height of the Industrial Revolution, but did you know it was destined to be torn down. The Parisians hated the tower but eventually decided that tearing down four tons of steel was more
trouble then it was worth. We hiked up a million stairs (or so it felt) to the second level of the tower, grabbed a beer and watched the storm roll in. After about a 20 minute down pour we began our descent. It was a truly surreal experience, and the view wasn't bad either. At night the tower dances with lights for five minutes on the hour, it's an amazing sight. It looked like a thousand paparazzi shooting off camera light bulbs, almost as if it were sparkeling in the moonlight.
We shared an amazing lunch of French onion soup and salade nicoise (tuna, anchovies, egg, olives and green beans) tres bien! Then we got down to business and planned the fate of the rest of our trip.
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