This day was like a grand finale to our holiday. We’d already got lucky with the Eiffel Tower; our tickets were for Thursday, not Wednesday, and after a 2-day strike the tower opened and visitors were allowed up.
First we made a superhuman effort to get out of home by 9 to queue up for the Notre Dame climb. Thankfully the queue was not too long yet, but it was a little wet and miserable morning, only made bearable by a fresh hot Nutella crepe. The Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t much different from other cathedrals we’ve seen, but it is the exterior that is the big draw. I have always thought the structure ugly. The tower is tall, around 350+ steps, but the climb is punctuated either for buying tickets, or for viewing levels, so it’s not as strenuous as the Arc the Triomphe, all 284 steps in one go.
When you climb the Notre Dame tower, not only do you get treated to fabulous city panoramas, but also come face to face with those ugly, vicious gargoyles that lend the Notre Dame it’s character. And you understand how ugly is beautiful. This morning I changed my opinion of this building, feeling every bit of its grandeur.
Being close enough to home, we walked up to the Marché des Enfants Rouges for a falafel lunch, and took a train to the Eiffel Tower. No surprises here, predictably the crowds are large, there’s a carnival atmosphere, and long queues for everything. While we’d bought our tickets online already, we still had to wait in line for the elevators. And the views from the top – wow! The history of the tower is as colourful as you’d expect – one man’s vision, derided by his peers, threatened to be torn down, how it was saved by aligning it to the future, and now is the symbol of Paris. (There’s a nice little app to read about it on your phone as you wait in those lines.)
Oh lovely tower, how I will miss you!