I will admit that Day 2 started out a little later than intended as we readjusted our bodies to the six–hour time shift, but a little café and pain au chocolat did the trick to fuel us up. Before we ventured out for the day, I convinced my daughter to check out the Sunday vibe in our neighborhood. We loved what we saw. Friends and family walked the streets with bags of food, bread, wine and flowers talking and laughing as if on their way to a day of good meals and company. Mostly everything was closed down, and there was stillness around us. Occasionally, church bells would ring or a child would cry, but there was no sense of urgency to anything. I had to slow my steps down several times to match the rhythm of the day.
Some of my favorite sights included a woman in kitten heels riding a bike with her child in seat on the back. She looked stylish in pants and a boat neck tee with a little scarf around her neck. I always look like a crazy red bird after doing the same, and I have not tried the heel thing, but I am tempted. I also saw a man washing his car with a watering can. It reminds me that I have not seen anything close to a car wash here. I wonder if people here write crazy things in car dust, especially with the aggressive parallel parking that seems to involve love taps to other tiny cars.
After the Sunday stroll, we decided that it was a perfect day to acquire Metro passes and follow the trail to the Eiffel Tower, the 125 year-old beauty that interjects the Paris skyline with its majesty. We were slowed down a little by a preview of the Montparnasse Cemetery. We intend to go back after sampling its serene yet stunning resting places. Parisians know how to put their loved ones to rest!
Photo: Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
When we arrived at the Metro, Dave figured out that a multi-day zone 1-3 pass was the best for our itinerary over the next four days. The children were excited to see mass transit in action for the first time, and the we found the stations to be well-marked and easy to use. We amused fellow passengers with our brood, especially when Luci and Zavier started to dance to accordion music on the first leg of our journey. We made sure to give the performer some Euros!
Photo: Luci and Dave on the Paris Metro
Nothing prepares you–no picture, no video, no description can do it justice–for walking around a corner and up to the majesty of the iconic Paris structure. I would not say the Eiffel Tower is the most beautiful thing in Paris (maybe at night!), but it is stunning in its size, the intricate design that keeps it standing, and the level of activity that surrounds it including people strolling through the Champs de Mars towards the Hotel des Invalides or along the Seine just across the street. It was the perfect place to take photos of my Luci in her Madeline costume, another French treasure.
Photo: Luci as Madeline near the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Perhaps one of my favorite yet most terrifying moments so far on this trip was walking up the stairs to the first level of the tower. You are walking inside the metal skeleton of the tower, but if you look down, you still see the ground! I’m afraid of heights and my children falling from them, so my imagination ran wild, and my son also took pause at the ascent. However, there is no better way to see Paris then from the tower.
Photo: Paris view from the Eiffel Tower
My son would no longer ascend after the first level, so we bid the family au revoir, and I took him down to play underneath the tower. He really liked it from that vantage point, plus it gave us time to stroll along the Seine, see street performers and scope out boat rides for later. Personally, I could have watched street vendors making Nutella crepes all day long, but I had no Euros as they were at the top of the tower, so we moved along.
When everyone came down, they had the stories and the pictures to prove the claims of a staggering view from the top of the tower. That was good enough for me as I enjoyed time watching my son engage the locals with horrible but adorable French. It was time for a boat ride.
We chose the Bateaux one hour cruise as we were all starting to get a little hungry and the kids a little restless. It was perfect for us. While I think the tower provides the most amazing view of Paris in totality, I think the boat ride provides the best view of the individual treasures such as the Louvre and Notre Dame. It also gives you a view of the day to day life along the Seine, from couples strolling and making out, to people walking dogs, to groups of friends sitting and waving to the passing boats from the banks. I almost wanted to jump off and join them, but figured we would do that same walk soon. Parisians know how to make use of their natural and cultural amenities. C’est magnifique.
Photo: Notre Dame from the Bateaux
When we were done, it was getting close to dark, and we were all willing to eat at a bistro and wait for the night show of the tower despite being tired. It was the worth the wait. To watch the giant tower with dancing lights like diamonds electrify the night sky of Paris is a sight that should not be missed in a lifetime. It was at 9pm the night of the second day that I declared the Eiffel Tower to be the most beautiful thing in Paris at night!
Photos: The dancing lights of the Eiffel Tower
We were on a high walking back to the Metro after the light show, which we saw for a second time an hour later, so Dave could not help but stop to negotiate with a street vendor for a jacked up laser pointer that had many green dots and could reach a long distance. The kids fell in love with the light sticks, chasing the many points of lights as the vendors tempted their excited minds and hearts. While getting three kids to agree on a timeshare of the ridiculously priced pointer was no fun, watching them laugh and dance with their new toy on the way home was worth it. I occasionally glanced at Dave with a mixture or frustration and great love, but in Paris, love wins!
To the City of Light, a title I now understand fully, merci beaucoup for an amazing Day 2!