Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Paris Trip Day 2

We arrived into Paris right before 10 am. It took a while for us to retrieve our bags and go through customs. From the airport we took the RER (train) into Paris and made one metro connection to our vacation rental in Marais.

I am so grateful for travel guides which helped us to know what to expect and how to get around. We found our place with ease. We arrived at 11:45, just as the young man who was cleaning the apartment was getting into the building. He let us in, and Eric, the property owner was not far behind. We were able to drop off our luggage, freshen up and head out again for a full day of exploration and some tasty crepes.

 Our first stop was the Eiffle Tower. We picked a great day to go, the security line and tour line to purchase our tickets were relatively short.

We rode the elevator to the second floor of the tower and enjoyed great views of the city. I listed to an audio tour describing the history of the tower and shared the most interesting facts with the kids.

Did you know that the tower will shrink up to 6 inches when it is cold and shift up to 5 inches away from the sun in the hot summer months? The tower was originally painted red at the base and gradually changed to orange and yellow towards the top.

The Eiffel tower was built to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. It was hated by Parisians and was supposed to be taken down after the 1889 world fair concluded. However, Mr. Eiffel, who designed, built and financed the tower promoted its’ use as a military radio tower (new technology at the time) guaranteeing the tower’s longevity.

We descended to the first floor, where a glass floor showed us how it feels to be standing 18 stories above ground looking straight down.

 The visitor center had a video of how the tower is now used to commemorate important dates, such as Bastille Day (French Independence Day) and New Years Day with lights and fireworks. Another exhibit displays pictures of its construction and a comparison of the Eiffel Tower next to other tall structures around the world.

Once we were done with our visit we crossed the street to the banks of the river Seine where we caught a one-hour river boat tour. From the top of the boat we were able to spot the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel tower in addition to catching beautiful views of the city and the many bridges that cross the Seine.

By that point the kids were exhausted by the change in time zone and barely awake. They were cuddling up to us and dozing off. We were able to keep them awake long enough to have dinner. Carson fell asleep waiting for his pizza to be delivered. After dinner, we walked back to the Trocadero and took several pictures of the Eiffel tower lit up.

One of the things the kids noticed when we arrived in Paris, was all of the armed guards standing around. They were dressed in full military uniform with machine guns in hand, scanning the crowds. We saw several armed policemen as well.

We heard a lot of sirens as we traveled. At first, we were alarmed by the sounds, but soon realized it is customary for them to blare if they are active, unlike the US, where they turn on only if needed.