Thursday, 31 August 2017

Up the Eiffel

Incredibly, I had been living in France for almost seven years and still never been up the Eiffel Tower. I hadn't wanted to travel into Paris and go up on my own but all attempts to get there accompanied by Jean-Claude just hadn't turned out. Despite us having prepaid for tickets online JC had back problems so I ended up going alone anyway.

On a rather fresh summer morning I arrived very early as on Saturdays there is only one train per hour into Paris from my area. I killed time by wandering the around the Trocadero, navigating past all those with selfie sticks, eventually deciding that I didn't need that sort of photo and watched some rather harried marriage participants. None of them seemed to be enjoying themselves as they tried to get a decent shot of the Tower swathed in an anonymous tea towel, or so it looked.

Since all the nastiness with terrorism in Paris, secruity is  extremely evident and has totally spoiled the aesthetics of the Champs de Mars and around the foot of the  Tower. Be warned, even with prepaid you will queue to get in because each entrant is individually searched. There are ugly galvanised grills and barriers everywhere; consequently the lawn has been destroyed with everyone confined to a small area.

There was a lot more waiting to come but prepaid then helped. The worst wait was to go to the summit. If you just want to go to level 2 you should be OK but the summit is much higher and needs it's own lift.

I did enjoy the view at level 2 and again at the summit, especially when the temperatures rose. Paris is well laid out with the river, trees, boulevards and monuments. On the way down I spotted the little gizmo that controls the 'sparkle' of the Eiffel Tower on the hour during parts of the evenings. These 'boxes' are installed on the structure and switch on and off so fast the tower becomes a flashing bauble - quite lovely though I've only managed to be near the tower once at the right time of night.

On my way down from level 2 to level one I was most disconcerted to discover I felt rather a lot of vertigo so I was obliged to desperately cling to any railing that appeared from time to time and avoid looking down too much while moving. Maybe my recent acquisition of a pair of progressive glasses wasn't helping but I felt disoriented and squeamish. The architecture inside with the beams going off at odd angles really added to it and I hadn't expected that at all. Back on Terra Firma I can advise that toilets are available on site and are free. In Paris, that's important as toilets aren't easy to find.

So what's the view like? Here are a few shots from the summit which is meshed and outdoors. No, you can't jump off these days.

Views include a new Russian church recently inaugurated by Putin's visit, Arc de Triomphe, quintessential views of Parisian architecture. You'll need to allow an hour up there to make it worthwhile, there's waiting times and so two hours may be needed for the visit as a minimum. Guided tours may be booked but they can be very expensive.