When we got to Paris yesterday, for some of us, (Darla mainly), this was the first experience having NO understanding of the language, which tends to be rather unnerving. After straightening out some confusion with train tickets for the next leg of the trip, we tracked down our hotel. After a quick scamper up the 6 spiral flights of stairs, (more of a winded, sweaty, stomping up the stairs), we dumped our stuff and prepared for a day in Paris! It was at this point that it became blatantly clear that 2 years of mandatory language study (like Ben's French) are apparently worthless. No idea how to pronounce words, letters, nothing. Oh well.
First and foremost we went to get Paris Museum passes, in order to avoid lines and save money. Since we happened to wander past it first, we checked out Sainte-Chapelle, an AMAZING set of stained glass windows in a small chapel that tell the story of the entire bible up to Jesus death. After grabbing a quick sandwich for lunch, we wandered up to the Champs-Elysses, past the Louvre (I know, I know, we're uncultured. None of us are particularly interested in that era of art) and enjoyed a respite sitting by a fountain in the Tuileries gardens.
As we wandered our way to the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysee, it was clear that there had been some large event there, which was being cleaned up (bleachers, streets blocked off, etc.) and then realized that the Tour de France had just ended at that location, days earlier. After window shopping at the high end places (like the flagship Louis Vuitton store), we climbed a never-ending spiral staircase to the top of the Arc, which had beautiful views of the city and the Eiffel Tower. When we came down, we watched in amazement as nobody was killed in the crazy traffic circle around the Arc, in which 12 streets all come into one gigantic, insane traffic circle.
Finally, we decided it was time to examine the Eiffel Tower in detail. When we got there, we decided to eat a lovely French supper overlooking the Eiffel Tower until twlight fell, and watch the tower light up and then climb it. In actuality, the sun doesn't set in Paris until like 10:00 PM, so we had things like goat cheese, quiche, and duck for supper overlooking the tower, and then realized itwas going to be at LEAST another hour and a half before it got dark. Hence, we just decided to start climbing, which ended up being cool, because we were on it right at sunset. We could only climb up to the 2nd floor, but it was amazing, nonetheless, especially lit up at night. The best part was that it lit up and had flashing strobe lights at the top of every hour, which was absolutely breath-taking from outside the tower, as the whole thing basically appeared to be sparkling. Even though it was packed with tourists and people selling crap, it was absolutely, 100% worth it :-)