Today is a free day in Paris to explore at our leisure. Our first stop was Notre Dame Cathedral at about 9am. Wow! What an amazing building. I understand now why everyone talks about this place – it’s equal parts art and engineering. It’s hard to believe that it was built so long ago.
After the tour of Notre Dame, the bus dropped us off at the Eiffel Tower and left us to our own devices for the rest of the day. The group immediately broke up into two main groups – the lazy and the crazy! Getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower involves a long wait to take the elevator, or no wait to take the stairs. The majority of the group elected to take the elevator, but 5 or 6 of us decided to be crazy. We also decided to issue a challenge and see if us crazies could beat the lazies to the top!
300+ stairs to get to the first level and we were still well ahead of the group waiting for the elevators. All of us started to slow down on the next 300+ stairs from the first to the second level. We ended up in a dead heat with a mad dash to the line for the mandatory elevator from the second level to the top. The crazies won by a nose thanks to some acrobatics from Shaun!!
Some of the group stuck around at the top of the Tower just long enough to snap a picture or two. Rob, Mike and I hung around a bit longer. We wanted to savour the experience, or maybe we just wanted to catch our breath from the mad dash up the stairs. Either way, we took advantage of the bird’s eye view to plot our route to our next destination: the Arc de Triomphe.
It was a lovely sunny day, if a little hazy, and perfect weather for wandering the streets of Paris. The trees were nice and green and it was just a nice temperature for walking, the smell of cherry blossoms and dog crap in the air. Rumour has it there are 3 dogs to every person in this city. Unfortunately, the road we chose to walk along reeked of dog poo. Yuck!
Stench aside, it was a lovely walk. We took the pedestrian tunnel under the notorious Charles de Gaulle Etoile and visited the grave of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe. By then it was midday, so we decided to stroll down Champs-Elysees, a gorgeous road of high-end shops, manicured trees and quaint cafes.
We still had plans to see the Jardins des Tuileries before we had to meet the bus, but we found we were running short on time. It had taken us longer than we had anticipated walking around the city, so we did the unthinkable: we ate McDonald’s for lunch. The shame
Unfortunately, we still didn’t have time to see the Jardins. We made it as far as Place de la Concorde, but had to turn back.
Darren and Pip picked us up and it was back to the campground to freshen up before our night on the town. Tonight is a nice dinner and a cabaret at Nouvelle Eve. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy live performances; I’m going to have to see more of them when I get home.