The Eiffel Tower was beautiful, especially with very few other people around. We took a bunch of pictures and sat on a bench with a great view of the Tower to eat our pastries. They were great, but we all agreed that the French pastries at Cafe Papillon in Rehoboth Beach are slightly better.
Around 8:45 we walked under the tower to get in line for those with reservations. It was a good thing we had reserved ahead. The line for those without reservations was insane already, and the tower didn't open until 9. Saved again by research and planning!
At 9 o'clock we walked right in with our reservation. We took the first elevator to the second level, and then immediately took a second elevator to the top, 800 feet high.
We were lucky that it was a very clear day. We could see for miles in every direction. A British family offered to take our picture before it got crowded.
We looked into Gustav Eiffel's apartment and passed the window that sells Champaign at crazy prices to tourists before taking the elevator back down to the second level.
The views from the second level, 400 feet high, were good as well, and you could see more detail in the monuments. The kids each spent their money on a small souvenir in a gift shop. Michael got a keychain to hang on his school backpack for 2.50 EUR, and Abby got a tiny metal Eiffel Tower for 1.50 EUR.
We took the stairs down to the first level instead of waiting for the elevator. The kids actually got a kick out of taking the stairs. I'm guessing it's because they were going down.
We spent a little time on the first level, pausing to look down with pity on those with hours of waiting head of them in line to buy tickets. We then took the elevator down to the ground.
All four of us enjoyed the Tower a lot. We decided to start using our museum passes at Napoleon's Tomb, which was a short walk away.
It was impressive, but since the kids were getting tired we skipped the attached Musee de l'Armee and walked back toward our hotel to a cafe that was recommended by a guidebook and looked nice. One nice benefit to having the passes is that you don't feel bad about popping into a museum for just a few minutes to see something. If we had payed 9 Euro each to go in, there's no way we would have spent only 15 minutes.
Lori and I both had Quiche Lorraine and a glass of wine, and the kids split an omelette with fries. We finished the meal with espresso and two dessert samplers (strawberries, mini creme brûlée, and mini chocolate cake) which we all shared.
Since we hopped to stay up late to see the Eiffel Tower lit up, we went back to the room and the kids layer down for naps. It was really nice to have a little sitting room for Lori and I to relax in while they slept.
Our afternoon started well. We took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, and climbed to the top. We felt a few rain drops for the first time on the trip, but they soon ended. There were more great views from the top.
Michael had a great time counting the stairs on the way down. His unofficial total was 283.
Since our Metro pass was still good, we hopped back on and rode to the Musee l'Orangerie. It was closing soon, so we went in quickly and sat for a few minutes experiencing Monet.
As we left, we looked at the time and thought that we might be able to get one more ride in before our Metro passes expired, so we went back down to the Metro. It wasn't happening, though.
The next three hours were pretty trying, and all of us had a tough time holding it together.
We walked to the Louvre because it's open until 10 on Wednesdays to see the Mona Lisa. Because today is the Feast of the Assumption it closed at 6, and we couldn't get in.
We went to the food court in the mall next to the Louvre because one of our guidebooks said you could get a cheap meal there. You couldn't. We ate a lousy, overpriced cafeteria dinner.
We walked to a park near Les Halles that was supposed to be incredible for the kids. They were really excited. It was closed for renovations.
We sat at a cafe for a while just to try and get some wind back in our sails. Lori and I had decaf espresso and iced cappuccino, respectively, while the kids shared a crepe.
We decided to take the Metro to the Eiffel Tower to take a Seine River cruise. We would need to change trains once. When we got to the St. Michel station, we found that the train we needed to connect to wasn't running due to maintenance. With exasperation, we got back on and made a different connection.
When we finally got to the Eiffel Tower things got better. We found a carrousel by the river, and the kids had huge smiles as they rode.
We walked down to the riverbank and took a one hour cruise in an open-top boat. It was a great experience for all of us. Paris is magical at night.
Our cruise ended around 10:30, and we were all exhausted, but we decided to stay up until 11 to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle like it does for 5 minutes on the hour at night. We walked back toward the hotel and found a bench for a few minutes.
The "show" was cool, but anti-climactic. We could have gone to bed. We walked two blocks back to the hotel and passed out.
Tomorrow is our last day in the city of Paris. After that we move on to our last stop: Disneyland Paris. We are all very excited about getting our Disney fix, but we're looking forward to home in a few days, too.
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