Our third day in Paris was the best because after almost half a month of travelling in just each other’s company we got to meet some special relatives and saw one of the most iconic monuments in the world – the Eiffel.. glittering. Yes, the Eiffel Tower really glitters! But let’s start from the beginning.
During the trip planning phase, Amit Bhau and Shobha Tai (the ones responsible for our paragliding experience) had told us that they were going to drive down from London to meet us during our stay in Paris. So our plan for day three was to meet them at around 9 in the morning and then spend the day with them. But due to some reason they got delayed so we spent the morning lounging in our apartment getting some much needed rest after several days of hectic travelling. Finally they reached Paris and we decided to meet somewhere in the vicinity of Eiffel Tower at 12.
We left our apartment, took a metro and quickly reached the Eiffel Tower. We spent some time clicking photos of the Eiffel till Amit Bhau and Shobha Tai arrived with their son Parth. Another short photo session was followed by lot of talks and lunch consisting of Lebanese food. We then took a metro and walked to where their car was parked, gave them our photos and videos of paragliding and they dropped us on Champs-Élysées. A visit that we were looking forward to a lot was over much quicker than we wanted it to be.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is probably the most famous boulevard or street in the entire world. This 2 km long avenue is bounded by Place Charles de Gaulle and Place de la Concorde at its two ends. It is lined with luxury shops, restaurants, cafes, theatres, gardens and some famous buildings. The boulevard is used by Parisians for all the major events and celebrations.
Since we had already been to Arc De Triomphe which is located at one end of this boulevard, this time we started walking towards the opposite end. We did some shopping for ourselves and our family members at H&M and then had some delicious macarons and pastries at Paul, a famous French bakery chain.
As we walked further ahead we came across Grand Palais and Petit Palais, two museum complexes built in 1900 for the World Fair. After this we took a detour from the Champs-Élysées and walked to Pont Alexandre III, a bridge that was also built in 1900 along with Grand Palais and Petit Palais. In terms of decoration and the view from it, this was probably the best bridge we came across during our entire trip. It had magnificent lampposts and some intricate sculptures but the distinguishing feature of the bridge were the four large gilded statues that gleamed in the sunlight.
We kept walking along the Seine and soon reached Place de la Concorde. This 17th century square is the largest in Paris and was the site of execution of thousands of people during the French Revolution, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The centre of the square was surrounded by lampposts and had two fountains and a 3,300 year old obelisk known as the Obelisk of Luxor which was a gift from Egypt. The obelisk was covered with hieroglyphs and had a gilded pyramid shaped top. It was almost dusk by the time we left Place de la Concorde and took a metro back to Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel tower is one of those monuments which should be seen both during the day and the night because it looks completely different though equally magnificent during the two halves of the day. Once we reached the Eiffel, bathed in golden light by this time, we joined the queue in front of the ticket window without any delay (this was the only site that we visited in Paris which was not covered by our Paris Museum Pass). The Eiffel Tower can be accessed either by lift or by stairs up to the second floor but the top of the tower can be accessed only by the lift.
We bought our tickets and took lifts first to the second floor and then all the way to the top. The night view of Paris bathed in a kaleidoscope of colours from atop the Eiffel was astounding.
For the descent we took the stairs from the second floor to the ground. During our descent we found that there was an exhibition about Eiffel on the first floor – the story of its construction and development since, its height compared to other famous monuments and towers, other reproductions of the tower, movies that have been shot on Eiffel, famous people related to Eiffel etc. Once we reached the ground we went to the gardens in front of the Eiffel and settled down to witness the magic that we had seen from the metro the previous night.
As soon as the clock struck 11, the magic began. The entire Eiffel started glittering. It seemed like thousands of stars had descended from the sky above and had perched all over the Eiffel Tower. We could hear shrieks of delight from the tourists looking at this spectacle along with us. It was truly a sight to behold, a sight that affirmed Paris’ status as the most romantic city in the world and now, after one year, it is our lasting memory of Paris. Later we learned that the Eiffel Tower is covered with 20,000 light bulbs which light up randomly every night for 5 minutes on the hour and this is what makes Eiffel glitter.