On our second day in Paris we caught the “Batobus”, a tourist boat that drops you off at six or seven famous locations along the Seine. We had bought a day ticket which meant we could get on and off as much as we liked during the day. There are other boats available as well that do the same kind of thing.
We were in no hurry and didn’t intend to cram too much in. We had anticipated we might visit 3 locations during the course of the day, but ended up only visiting two – the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame cathedral.
We spent a good 3 hours or so at and around the Eiffel Tower, taking in lunch at a nearby cafe as well. I’d seen pictures of the tower of course (who hasn’t?) and it’s featured in movies etc, but I was surprised, when we got up close, as to how elegant it really was.
For some reason I had expected it to be a typical boilerplate structure, in line with the ironwork of the steam age. I was so pleasantly surprised to see intricate patterns in the metalwork – it truly is a lovely piece of architecture.
All the more amazing given that it was never intended to be a permanent structure. And of course, due to terrorist activity, there was a security gate we had to go through to get “inside” the Eiffel Tower. By inside I mean just standing at the base inside the four columns that curve upward to join as one some 50 metres upward.
We didn’t go up. I’m not a great fan of gazing out over a city from a great height. I mean, the view is of course beautiful, but to me all high-up views of cities look kind of the same (I know that’s not true, but I’m not quite sure how to explain it – to me it’s kind of same old, same old). I remember going up to the top of the Rockefeller tower in New York, and, you know, it was nice, but after being there for a few minutes I was ready to go back down.
The parkland and houses/buildings surrounding the Eiffel Tower are also quite beautiful, so altogether the Tower and its surrounds made a pretty picture. We ate at a local cafe just a few minutes walk from the tower, and I had a baguette with a hot dog and melted cheese. Didn’t look particularly appetising, but it tasted yummy!
Just an aside, I don’t know what it’s like in your country, but in Australia if I have a large bill ($100, let’s say), I can pretty much spend it anywhere. If I walk into a convenience store and buy something for a few bucks, I wouldn’t use $100 bill if I could avoid it, but if I had to, I would apologise (“Sorry this is all I have”), and they would either say it was okay or give me a dirty look. But they always took it and gave me change. Not so in Paris (and just curious how is it in your country as well?)
On our first day, after I had checked into to our apartment, I went down to a local supermarket to pick up some milk and sugar etc. The bill came to a little over 7 euros, and my smallest bill I had on me was 50 euros. After hesitating for a second or two, the girl said “Non” and that was that. Lucky I had my credit card on me and I paid for it that way.
The thing is, we came to Paris with lots of 100 euro bills and some 50 euro bills. I soon discovered that the supermarket experience was mirrored most other places as well. We sweated on that a bit, but found that for bigger expenses (the restaurants or souvenir stores for example) we could pay with $100 Euro bills, and thankfully managed to cash them into smaller bills sufficiently often that way (though you could still see a few hesitate). If we go another time, we will certainly do that differently!
Anyway, after the Eiffel Tower we were getting a bit tired (it was now around 3 in the afternoon) so we only went to one more place – Notre Dame cathedral. I have to say, while it was very impressive, it was not really my kind of beauty, so we walked around it (didn’t go in mainly because we were tired by now and were also running out of time) took a bunch of photos, and headed back to the Batobus for the last leg back to where we had first boarded. The cathedral is interestingly located very close to other buildings, which I hadn’t expected. You normally see a church set apart with gardens or grounds around it, but here on one side the cathedral backed on to a busy street of shops. It made for some interesting photos.
We headed back to our apartment, collapsed for a while as you do, then found a pub down the road which served good food, and had an enjoyable evening meal. The waitress was terrific, even though she had to keep apologising because everything we ordered they had run out of! We eventually found something on the menu that was available and it turned out to be delicious. We hung around, enjoying the atmosphere and letting our food go down, then sauntered back to our apartment. And that’s it for day 2.