She towered in front of us, an intricate shadow against a blindingly bright morning sky. A touristy grin spread from ear to ear, and I squealed to the kids “Look! Look! It’s the Eiffel Tower!”
We were standing on the terrace in front of the Palais Chaillot, which not only looks over the Jardins du Trocadero, but offers the best view of the Eiffel Tower. We had rushed out of the apartment early (ate breakfast from the vending machine at the metro station) to get this view of that Tower, before standing in — the line.
Let me tell you – I abhor standing in lines. I’ve been to Rome twice and still haven’t seen the Sistine Chapel, solely because I don’t want to wait in a long line. The Eiffel Tower is the most popular tourist attraction in Paris, and the lines are notoriously long. And I would’ve happily skipped standing in line for the Eiffel Tower, too. But I was overruled by the family. This event was the kids must-see experience in Paris.
You’d think that as much as I detest lines, I would’ve bought tickets in advance at their website. But I also don’t like schedules, and worried something (rain or terrorist attack) would cause us to miss our scheduled time, and they don’t give or reschedule. We decided to risk it, and naively hoped that in October it wouldn’t be so bad. We were oh so wrong.
Views of a line : in it, and looking down on part of it
The kids however, didn’t mind the wait. They enjoyed the pesky vendors trying to sell us mini Eiffle Towers. They entertained themselves by dancing in circles. They were patient. They behaved much better than I.
After buying the entrance tickets, you must stand in another line to get onto the elevator. By the time we actually got on the elevator, our excitement had runneth over. Because after 80 long minutes – we were actually doing something! We were going up!
Riding the elevator up! (finally)
We clambered out, joined the crowds on the second deck (the top story was closed due to high wind), and marveled at Paris.
Ethan looking at me and with a wrinkled brow and asked:
“Mom! Why can’t I see the Eiffel Tower?”
“Kiddo, you can’t see it out there, because you’re standing on it. Turn around, and look up.
Within minutes, the novelty of the high elevation wore off, and Ada declared she was done. She wanted to leave.
Are you kidding me? Oh no. We’re staying up here. We’re squeezing everything out of this experience we can get.
We walked around, shopped at the gift shop, ate several overpriced not-so-great slices of pizza, and eventually decided to head to the first story just to see if the view was different.
Not willing to wait in another line to take the elevator down, we took the stairs. My competitive kids began to race. I held onto Ethan’s hand for dear life, trying not to look down, as he dragged me after Ada.
Ethan and I totally won.
And in case you’re wondering – the view from the first story, wasn’t all that different than it was from the second. So we left.
Standing on the Eiffel Tower was a once in a lifetime experience: riding the elevator up was exciting, and the elevation was exhilarating. But honestly, it wasn’t worth that line. I was content that my once in a lifetime experience, was over.
We found a small playground in Champs du March and let the kids have a good romp. We eventually continued our walking journey through the chic neighborhood streets (stepped in our first piles of infamous dog poop), and landed on Rue Cler.
Rue Cler is a trendy, expensive open food market raved about in guidebooks. After our vending machine breakfast and fast-food lunch, we were thrilled to see fruit stands, cheese shops, and butcher shops. We felt inspired (and hungry) and decided to do a little shopping, and cook dinner at home.
We went to a fruit stand and bought potatoes, pears and shiny (tart) red berries. Ada devoured a pear right there on the street.
We went into the shop Davoli, and picked out a mouthwatering slice of eggplant and tomato gratin.
While Aaron selected chicken from the butcher shop, the butcher gave the kids salami (they get free food wherever we go). They were transfixed by the quail, which had its feathered head still attached. The butcher noticed and put his finger in the back of the quail’s head, making it move around and cluck. The kids were delighted.
Once finished with our shopping, we found the closest Metro station, and boarded a train packed with people going home from work; we stood with tired kids holding on to our legs, and grocery bags heavy in our hands. We began the day as harried tourists, and ended it as wannabe Parisians.