Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lincoln et Rachel a Paris deux jours (Saturday)

This morning I was a little groggy when I woke up and thanks to a 10am "Behind the Scenes Tour" of the Eiffel Tower there was little time to drift back to sleep.

The Eiffel Tower This Morning
Getting ready and heading out we discovered the entire city covered in fog, or as it may more accurately be, smog. Pollution levels were reported to be so bad that officials declared public transit would be free for this weekend to discourage driving. It was incredibly cold but uneventful as we made our way from La Defense to La Tour Eiffel and had a fascinating tour of the elevator machinery along with other elements of the tower's history (Including the colors that it's been over the years, from red to army green to today's gray).

Our tour included an elevator ride to the 2nd platform of the tower which had spectacular perspective -- but thanks to the (f|sm)og, it was impossible to see more than a few blocks in any direction [l'arc de triomphe was faintly visible in the background], so Rachel and I decided to postpone buying a ticket to the top of the tower.

Owing to the haze and cool temperatures, we returned to the hotel to drop off our souvenirs and see if we had any warmer clothing with us (I was cursing my refusal to pack any kind of headwear because it "won't be that clod"). Along the way we stopped by "Quick" for lunch where a multilingual kiosk allowed us to order without embarrassment and enjoy a quick bite to eat. Adjacent to the hotel, we stopped into a market called Monoprixe -- I was planning on buying a Coke, but I was shocked to discover they had Mountain Dew (my morning caffeine of choice -- which I was not expecting to find in France) although the taste more of sugar water than the flavor of the American variety.  

After a brief respite in our room, we noticed that the haze was lifting and the temperature warming so we decided to explore our environs -- our hotel, the Hilton Paris-La Defense, is directly adjacent to La Grande Arche de la Défense, so we started by walking that area and climbing the immense stairs at the mouth of the arch -- and from there we noticed that the Arc de Triomphe visible and the haze nearly entirely lifted.

Hopping on an RER A train it was a quick underground ride to the station and emerged to find the arc directly in front of us.. and we quickly decided to shell out the 9.50 euros for the climb to the top... and boy can you feel the thighs burn after ascending the 150+ feet of stairs to the peak, but the views from the top were well worth it.

(Click for Large) Panorama from the top of the Arc de Triomphe -- La Grande Arche and our hotel is at the end of the Avenue Charles de Gaulle (Center) 
Working our way down from the top, we decided to try walking Avenue Charles de Gaulle back to our hotel and it was a very pleasant 5.1km (~3.16 mile) walk with plenty of scenery along the way, including a chocolateir that was almost too much to resist and a bakery that proved too much to resist.

[The hotel internet connection is a bit spotty so I apologize for not having more photos]  


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