Thursday, February 20, 2014

Last Day in Paris: Adieu to the Arc de Triumphe, a boat ride down the Seine and a midnight climb up the Eiffel

Arc de Triumph

This is part of a travelogue, chronicling my twenty-one day trip to Europe last summer. 

 On our last day in Paris, Derek and I walked down the Champ Elysees to the Arc de Triumph.  We were on a street corner, looking at our map when  a young French woman approached us and asked us where we were going.  She then walked us most of the way.  She said she was going that way to deliver a letter anyway.  I thought, her mailbox is awfully far away from her apartment.  Between you and me I think she was just being nice.

Stairwell up the Arc de Triumphe

 I can not emphasis enough how valuable getting a Paris pass is.  We saved hours waiting in line.  We got to bypass everyone and go straight to the top.  This was true for all the museums as well.  The only things that the pass didn't cover was Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

I had no idea how huge the Arc de Triumphe was.  I got a lot of cute bookmarks from the gift shop on top.

That evening Derek and I went on a boat ride.  While we waited on the Seine river for it to commence I took a few more photos of the Eiffel Tower.  It is so impressive, I couldn't stop snapping.  Every angle seemed to demand I preserve the moment with my camera. 

I'd like to see this guy get in his little car.

Scenes along the Seine

The following photos are what we saw on the boat ride along the Seine.

As we floated under a bridge.
It was hard to keep track of what the recorded narrator said about each building on the ride because it was repeated in several different languages: German, English, French, Chinese, Japanese etc.

 When we finally returned it was around ten o clock.  As you can see it is still light.  Summer days are  very long in Paris.  We got in line to get to the top of the Eiffel.  The wait was over two hours.

The tower in the evening, around eleven pm.
 It was a long arduous wait, but we arrived at the top of the Eiffel at precisely midnight.  My camera didn't take the most brilliant photos of Paris at night, but I think they have their own special appeal.

At the foot of the Eiffel looking straight up.

At the second level of the tower.

Midnight on top of the Eiffel.

By this time I am more than a little wiped out.

Paris at night or abstract art?  Maybe both!

Paris at midnight

Elevator going down to the second level.

 We found out at the second level that we could climb down the stairs to the ground.  Derek and I eagerly got out of the elevator line and began climbing down one of the legs of the tower.  Or rather, we ran down.  I wasn't sure when the subway trains stopped running.  I didn't relish the idea of getting a taxi.  Taxis are the only negative experience on my European trip.  The drivers really are a bunch of crooks.  The only reason you should take a taxi is if you have money to burn.

Running down the stairwell of the Eiffel

Derek and I sprinted to the closest subway station, a block away, only to find ourselves ensconced among crowds of people also waiting  for the train.  Silly little east Texan.  Paris stays open long after midnight.

I saw many scenes on the subway I would have liked to capture with my camera.  One was the pole I was grabbing with twenty other hands.  It was such a cool image:  all these disembodied hands and arms going off in all different directions and angles.

The Eiffel Tower at midnight
Another scene I'll always remember was a couple of young French girls who were seated next to where I was standing.  The one girl was dominating the conversation chatting away a mile a minute as the train wound its way up to the near northern section of the city where my hostel was.

Suddenly, at one stop, she jumped up with an exclamation. She and her friend pushed their way out of the crowd barely before the doors closed.  Evidently they were not intending to disembark here.  By the girl's breathless and excited laughter I knew there must be somebody they knew outside on the platform that they weren't expecting to see.  Or maybe they came upon their stop more quickly than they realized.  

 I looked out the window and saw the object of their excitement.  Or objects. Two young men were there waiting for  them.  I wish I could adequately describe this girl and how she laughed as she made her way through the crowd to get to her male friends.  To me it was such a charming picture of Parisian youth culture.

Exhausted and barely able to stand, Derek and I walked the few blocks from the subway to our hostel.  We were starving, but what was open?  Across the street from our place was a Turkish falafel shop.  We went in and for only a couple of Euros plowed through plates piled high with lamb and french fries, washed down with coke. 

While I was standing at the counter waiting for my food, a group of young people sauntered in.  A pretty girl with flowing curly hair stood next to me and grinned hugely at me.  At this point in time, she would not have passed anybody's sobriety test.  She said a few words in French to me but quickly surmised I didn't understand and switched to English.  The remainder of the time in the restaurant she spoke English to everybody, including the cook, whom she joined behind the counter, insisting that she help him.

As I sat down at my table and ate, I thought, "That's great.  This girl can speak fluent English drunk and I can't speak comprehensible French sober.  I blame it on our educational system."

At two in the morning, Derek and I dragged ourselves up the four flights of stairs to our rooms and collapsed onto our beds.  We didn't bother changing clothes.  We had to get up in two hours to catch our plane to Barcelona.  

Goodbye Paris.  I hope we'll meet again one day.

Previous posts of my European Trip:

Another Day in Paris: Arc de Triumphe

Paris First Day

Switzerland :Gimmelwald and Murren

Third Day in Switzerland

Montreux, Switzerland



Pisa and Cinque Terre 




Further Links:

Paris Pass

Paris Museum Pass 

Eiffe's Tower by Jill Jonnes 


  1. Wow. More incredible pictures from what seems to have been an incredible trip.

    The story of the English speaker is amusing. In all fairness, Europeans ofttimes get to practice their skills in speaking multiple languages more frequently.

    1. Hi Brian. I know Europe places a greater emphasis on learning languages out of necessity. I wish our schools would teach languages so we could speak them fluently. Of course if you don't have anywhere to practice it's hard to truly become proficient.
      Take care!

  2. What a great time and great experiences.
    English is universal so it's less difficult to learn (movies, songs, etc.).

    1. Hi, Zohar. Thanks for the encouragement. I still wish I could speak other languages as fluently as that girl spoke English.


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.