May 24, 2008

Paris - Part 3

Our last day in Paris seemed to pass at a slower pace than the previous two. Perhaps it was because we saw less, or walked more. Or perhaps it was because of the weather.

We checked out of our hotel and left our luggage with the front desk to be picked up later. I remember there was a sign on the counter with the day's projected forecast. I'm pretty sure it said chance of showers, but it had said that all weekend and it hadn't rained once. Can't you sense the foreshadowing?

So we said goodbye to our Holiday Inn in Saint Germain des Pres and we split up. I think Christina, Adrienne and Sarika hit up more shops, and I'm pretty sure that Trevor went and saw more churches. I could be wrong, but Trevor really has a thing for churches.

Kat and I headed back to the Eiffel Tower and it was time to do some climbing.

If the pole with the signs is straight, the Tower leans right. If the Tower is straight the pole leans left. What's a photographer to do? Anyway...
We make it back to the Tower on a very overcast morning. And then we get in line.
There are several lines under the Tower... one for the lift, one for the Jules Verne restaurant, and one for the stairs. Given the cost of the lift, and I'm sure the cost of food at the Jules Verne is no joke either, we opted for the stairs. The line for the stairs forms from the South Tower, the Jules Verne located in the East Tower, and the line for the lift forms in front of the North Tower. The West Tower is apparently useless...
So if I remember correctly you had to stand in line, purchase your ticket at the "door", pass through a turnstyle and security, and then you get to the stairs. It's one of those walk inside to go back outside... a little weird if you ask me. Before buying tickets, I caught this shot of people heading up to the first level. They don't look like ants or anything, but they're not exactly life sized.
We finally get our tickets, we only paid to climb to the second level, and start up the giant iron stairwell. These people were heading the wrong direction on our stairwell. I wonder if one of them was afraid of heights.
Somewhere before the first level, this was the view of the Seine.
And this was the view of the center of the Tower.Somehow I hadn't learned after the metro in Montmartre that I shouldn't let Kat get ahead of me on a stairwell.It is 328 steps to the observation deck on the first level. They're even nice enough to mark the stairs for you so you know just how hard you've worked. We wandered around the first observation deck and snapped a few shots before making our way to the second stairwell that starts at the East Tower. I don't know why it doesn't continue up the South Tower... perhaps it's a balance issue.
It is another 340 steps to the second level observation deck. I think that excludes the 9 steps at the South Tower ticket booth and security.
It's Kat's foot!

The view from the second level is beautiful. This is the Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot.

And that is the golden dome of the Churh at Les Invalides. We'll get there later.
The views just keep coming...
The Jules Verne has a private entrace and lift on the ground level, but apparently the restaurant is actually on the second level. According to Wikipedia, the restaurant serves expensive gastronomical fare. I guess it's not well rated either. Interesting...
Looking upward. If I had made my way to the top, this would have been the view looking down. Oh well, maybe next time. Guess I'm going to have plenty of stairs to climb between the Tower, the Arc, and Notre Dame. Anyway...

On our way back down the tower, I mailed a few post cards and picked up a bagette at Pavillon Ferrié, a snack bar with a longer line than you'd expect. Unfortunately at this point it had started to rain and of course the snack bar is "indoors", or at least as indoors as you can get on the Tower. I ate my bagette while hiding from the rain. Ironically enough, both Kat and I are in white shirts. Go figure.

Kat and I eventually made it back to ground level and were just about to leave the Tower when it really started coming down. We took cover next to an old man under a tree and watched the rain literally bounce a few feet off the ground. Afte about 5 minutes the rain let up and we leave to go meet up with the rest of our group. The ground is now terribly messy and I think both Kat and I slipped at one point or another. We considered buying a touristy jacket from one of the street vendors on our way back to the metro, until we noticed that the prices had just doubled.

I honestly forget where Kat and I were supposed to meet everyone, or how we knew to get there. All I remember is that we were late because of the rain, and that I saw this on the way. At some point Trevor tracks us down and leads us to the rest of our group. They had taken shelter from the rain as well and were sitting on the patio outside this one restaurant. I don't know the name, but I know they served some darn good dessert. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Charlotte au Chocolat. At least that is what it was sold as. Perhaps because it's an individual portion it's missing the ladyfingers. I don't care what you want to call it, it was good. And I savored every last bite, much to the dismay of my colleages.

And then we were on the move. I loved this car. Absolutely loved it!
Through the Latin Quarter we went and we eventually made it to the Panthéon. I didn't go inside, I think it was because I found the cost of entry to be extravagant, but I think I should have. Some very famous people are buried inside, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, and Alexandre Dumas. According to Trevor, the view inside was also amazing.
Here's the roof of the outside of the Panthéon.
On the way to our last stop, Les Invalides, I spotted this... a Parisian gas station. Who needs a separate parking lot or attendant, you just park in the middle of a busy street and fill 'er up? This alone is enough to motivate me to never have a car in Paris, ever.
Once again we took the metro which stops quite closely to Les Invalides. As we were approaching, I could see the dome of the church from across the street.
The grounds also include a hospital, which I believe is the building on the right.
We barely made it inside the church before closing. Funny thing was, even though they said they were closing in 15 minutes, they didn't kick us out. In fact, I think we were there for nearly an hour and not once were we asked to leave. Maybe they close early for a reason.

The main attraction at Les Invalides is this, the tomb of Napoléon Bonaparte.The sarcophagus is made from red quartzite that was obtained from Russian Finland sometime around 1840.
This is the tomb of Hubert Lyautey, who was a Marshall of France before his death. For some reason this reminds me of Bernini's canopy
This statue and his counterpart to the camera's left guard the stairwell down to Napolean's tomb.
This statue, and all of the statues along the outside tomb are supposed to represent Napolean.
Also entombed at Les Invalides is Ferdinand Foch who served as Marshall of France and Allied Supreme Commander in the First World War.
There are some beautiful gardens in front of Les Invalides.
The church from the front. The gardens pictured above are camera left.

Another sign, this one on the way back to the metro. We wanted to go to the Rodin Museum, but didn't have much time. We needed to grab a bite to eat, collect our bags, and catch our bus.We ate at the restaurant across the street from our hotel before grabbing our bags. Kat and I were stuck next to a smoker for most of the meal. I think the food was decent, the prices were fair, but I know the facilities left plenty to be desired. But it was food, and it was our last meal in Paris. At least I remember something.

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