A Weekend in Paris: Day 2 – The Pantheon and Eiffel Tower

After a very busy (and early) Saturday, waking up Sunday morning was rough. Finally, around 10, we were on our way to the Panthéon.

Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, it now is a mausoleum where a bunch of famous French citizens are interred. After we took in all the giant artwork that adorned the walls of the old church portion of the Panthéon, we made our way downstairs to the mausoleum portion. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking back to what I remember most about the Panthéon and oddly enough, it’s the distinct lighting change from the church-first floor to the mausoleum downstairs. Upon entering the Panthéon, the vaulted ceilings and stone artwork make everything very bright with white, natural light coming in through the windows. Downstairs is more golden. I’m sure it’s just a bulb thing and not necessary related to anything at all, but all I can remember is the feeling like I visited two different sites.

The stonework inside the Panthéon was pretty amazing, to say the least.

It was lunchtime by the time we’d finished our visit to the Panthéon, so we found a place to grab a bite to eat…Académie De La Bière specialized in craft beers (or at least as close as we could get in France) so it was a natural choice for Dave. We feasted on moules et frites (Dave) and a chevre salad (me) and Dave had a beer that smelled like Guinness but wasn’t. Still tired from the night before, I opted for water so I wasn’t completely worthless the rest of the afternoon, since we’d decided to check out another museum post-lunch, Musée d’Orsay. Unfortunately, by the time we got there around 3:30, the lines were basically wrapped around the building and the museum closed at 5:30 so there wasn’t much sense in trying to getting in for such a short time to see the works. Double bummer in that the museum was closed on Mondays, so seeing it the next day was out too.

Defeated, we returned home and napped before our Eiffel Tower adventure.

And adventure it was!

Daylight savings for France had occurred the night before (also not helping with my exhaustion) so the nap was duly needed. But it also meant we had to wait on heading to the tower if we wanted to see it at night. Finally around 7:15, we headed out the door and hopped the metro to the Eiffel Tower. There are two separate lines–one for the stairs (no thank you) and one for the lift (to the top please!) and after finding our appropriate line, we found it to move along all right, considering the crowd.

Upon our arrival, we were bummed to see that the top had been closed (sometimes the wind is too much up there so they shut it down) but as we stood waiting to buy tickets, it reopened, so I was hopeful to a trip all the way to the top!

As we waited, Dave noticed the presence of French soldiers (not uncommon) had increased (uncommon) and subsequently they were clearing out the other side of the plaza that makes up the base of the Eiffel Tower. No one seemed alarmed, or even paying much attention to the goings on, but they had stopped allowing people in any of the lines. We didn’t seem to see anyone going up the stairs on that side either, so all of a sudden he and I were on heightening alert, not sure what had happened. We figured surely they wouldn’t let us stay in line if it was imminent danger, so we kept moving along, trying to figure out why soldiers wouldn’t let tourists through anymore.

As we got our tickets, we waited inside for the elevator when we overheard an Egyptian couple ask if something abnormal was going on. The ticket ladies assured them everything was fine and that someone had found a bag that had been left, so protocol dictated they clear that area until it was cleared.

Phew.

That off our minds, we also enjoyed the not-even-partially-full elevator ride to the top. They allow you to get off at the second floor, if you choose (ticket sales are broken out by how high you’d like to go) and we got off for a minute to take a few photos. As we stepped off the elevator, we were greeted with an ice cold wind. We quickly circled the second floor, snapped a couple photos and hopped back on the elevator, figuring if we were going to freeze, it was going to be all the way at the top!

Now might be a good time to mention I was a little uneasy at the thought of being that high up in the air. I had previously visited the WTC when I was a teenager and that height didn’t bother me, but I also didn’t have to see how high I was traveling through glass windows in the elevator. It ended up being fine when we got all the way to the top, but it was cold. Like frigid, almost-makes-your-eyes-water, cold (though for the record, not as cold as the day Dave and I tried to visit the Statue of Liberty in early 2012 shiver).

Once at the top, we immediately started snapping photos and it was then that I realized my memory card was full. Seriously. That happened. Luckily Dave had his phone so he was in charge of capturing the experience. After finding the prices of the glasses of champagne amusing for what they were offering, we continued around to each side to take pictures. The city really was gorgeous at night. There seemed to be a monument lighted up below in each direction and I’m so glad we made it to the top!

Notre Dame at night
Notre Dame at night

After our trip to the top, we wandered around a bit to see if we’d have any luck finding a restaurant opened at almost 11 on a Sunday night. Not wanting to be “those people” who walk in while the staff is waiting to close, we opted to head home, but we did get to see Notre Dame at night, which was gorgeous.

We returned home where I made some spaghetti (we’d hedged our bets that restaurants might be closed that day, it being Easter Sunday and all, and had gone to the store on our way home Saturday night just in case). Then it was off to bed, as we had planned to spend our final day wandering around Galleries Lafayette to check out the Paris shopping scene.

Whew! So now you’re beginning to see why I broke this trip up across 4 posts, eh? The final one is to come!

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