… you don’t have to go to the Eiffel Tower.
And maybe you shouldn’t. The day started off okay. The sun was shining as we packed. Minutes later, when we dropped off the bags at the front desk, the streets were wet. Sigh.
The plan was to take the tower tour at Notre Dame. When I was here a few years ago, this was probably my favorite thing about Paris (okay, maybe a close second to two attractive, young women speaking their native French to tell my cousin to pull up his zipper and finally miming it because he’s American, but you get the idea). We made it to the line a little after 10 a.m. Around 10:30, Penny walked around the church to take pictures of the side and back.
Around 10:45, I went to a nearby souvenir shop to buy us each a pair of gloves. The rain had stopped, but it was windy and cold. Penny may have said something like it was easier to deal with the rain than wind. Ha. These words will come back to bite us.
Around 11:45, we got far enough up in the line to read the top of Notre Dame was closed. We stuck with the plan though. We’d be able to get to the main gargoyle gallery – it’s right above the doors.
Ten minutes later we bought tickets to … the gift shop.
That’s where you go first for the tour. Because there’s nothing better than squeezing yourself and your purchases around the narrow spiral staircase and carrying a poster or pillow up 400 stairs.
We only had 200 to climb thanks to the top being closed. Still, that’s a lot of climbing on a staircase whose treads are wearing a bit. If you’ve ever been up in Notre Dame or similar staircases, you know the experience is surreal. Because of the spiral, you can only see a step or two in front of and behind you. Plus of course, the person directly ahead whose speed determines your speed. There is nowhere to stop and rest without causing everyone else to stop. It’s a repetitious lifting of one foot than the other. No windows, nothing to look at but butt (heh, see what I did there – “but butt”).
We took a bunch of pictures on the main gargoyle gallery before checking out the bell. To get to the bell, you go through a tiny wooden door that’s not ADA compliant and reminds you Notre Dame was not built for tourists. It was cold and windy up there, but there was one section with heat lamps. Maybe not built for tourists, but adapted.
Two hundred stairs later, we were outside. We grabbed lunch at a café on St-Michel and I decided we should go to the Eiffel Tower. Penny would have chosen the Arc du Triomphe and a walk down the Champs Èlysèes, but I didn’t listen/couldn’t hear her. There was only time for one activity, and I chose poorly.
During out walk, which took much longer than I thought it should have because the Eiffel was much farther than I thought, it started to rain. Not heavily or so for the first quarter of the walk though. Then the skies opened.
My water-repellent raincoat gave up and started soaking up water. Dye from our jeans transferred to shoes. It was miserable.
Penny said something about how she didn’t want to see the tower anymore. Again, I didn’t listen. I mean, how could you come to Paris and not go there? And I wasn’t going to suggest turning around because I thought she was joking. Lesson learned – Penny is (almost) always right.
After an hour of walking in a monsoon, we made it. I took a few quick pictures because I felt like we should get something out of it and then grabbed Euros from an ATM to get a cab. Nothing stopped. Luckily, we found the RER station at the tower stopped close to the hotel. We made it there in time to grab our bags and end to Gare du Nord for the ride home.
Thanks to the rain, clearing England immigration at the Paris train station was momentarily in jeopardy. My passport was in my pocket and was too wet to scan. The official suggested I let Penny handle my passport from now on since she could take care of hers.
Once back in England, we spend the night in, partly due to our late arrival and partly because of our bedraggled state. We plotted out remaining time in London, ordered room service, read and called it a night.