August 19, 2014

Keep Calm and Go To Paris, Part 2

If you've been keeping up, then you've already read Part 1 of this series…

I'll just assume we're on the same page here, shall I?

Th next morning dawned bright and early. And rainy. The Fam and I enjoyed an easy breakfast in our apartment, fresh fruit and cheese and bread and jam. This is the good life, peeps! Our plans included a free walking tour of Paris, and (this is the best part) a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower

Waking up with a cappuccino 

We slowly made our way to the tour meeting point, window shopping along the way. The weather was dreary. Paris is well-known for it's drizzly rain. Rather than be sad, we rejoiced that we were getting a "real" Paris experience. And we stopped for a cappuccino to warm us up. That always helps. 

Here's a tip for cafes in Paris that you may not know: Often, the price of your espresso or cappuccino (or whatever) is based on where you order the item. For example, the price will be significantly cheaper if you order at the bar (standing) versus sitting and ordering from the cafe tables outside. If you're looking to save a bit of cash, this is handy! 

Waiting for walking tour 
I'd taken the free walking tour once before, during my 12 hour whirlwind trip, and I loved it! The tour includes a lot of the major sights like Notre Dame, the Louvre, the love lock bridge, and much more. Usually the guides are humorous and have plenty of local color that adds to the tour.

Sadly, my second go round with this tour was not nearly as good as the first. In fact, it was pretty boring. I was honestly surprised since I've taken many of the Sandemans tours in other cities and never had this problem. I'm hoping it was just a fluke (and I'm pretty sure it was). The Fam and I tagged along with the tour for a while, but eventually left and did our own wandering.

Notre Dame
Love Lock Bridge (aka: Pont des Arts bridge)
Just before our visit, the "love lock" bridge actually lost a few sections of railing where the weight of the locks is causing decay and crumbling. Parisian officials are now encouraging people to take "selfies" versus the popular locks. In fact, there is a whole website now dedicated to Love Without Locks.

Crumbling railings 
There is no punishment for the continuation of the love lock tradition, but I suspect that someday soon this will no longer be allowed. 

In our wanderings we headed toward the Eiffel Tower, stopping for lunch at a great little cafe. Here's another tip for any of you visiting the city: Cafe tables and chairs must leave a certain amount of available space on the sidewalk. This often means that chairs are side by side, instead of facing each other across the table. Whatever you do, don't move the chairs around unless you want to be fussed at by an irate employee. 

Sitting side by side for lunch

Also, don't order "French" onion soup in Paris. Ahem… it's just onion soup there, peeps. 

No one is to talk about how I made this mistake, ok? Learn from me, my friends. It was pretty embarrassing when the waiter says to me (in perfect English), "You mean the onion soup?"


After lunch, it was almost time for our tour to the top of the Eiffel Tower! 

Under the Eiffel Tower, about to go up! 

You can order tickets online in advance, but we chose to do a tour for this visit. We used Easy Pass Tours, and we weren't disappointed. The price is definitely higher than a regular ticket. I had several reasons for this purchase. First, there were no tickets left online when I tried to book in advance (biggest reason, ha!). Second, I thought The Kid would enjoy hearing the history of the tower, and a description of what you see from the top. Our guide was very friendly, and the tour included some great information. Best of all, he was willing to take pictures of us together at the top! 

Eiffel Tower

Despite the rain and the fog, we loved our visit to this iconic monument. The official tour was 2 hours long. But we stayed quite a bit longer. There were vendors and gift shops to explore, and even champagne available for purchase. I found the champagne to be highly overpriced, but we enjoyed a nice hot chocolate that went perfect with the cool weather. 

View from the Eiffel Tower 

The next morning we had a planned excursion to Versailles. After another lovely meal in Paris, it was back to bed for a bit of sleep before a new adventure. 

I'll be back soon with the next installment in this series. Until then, happy travels! 

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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