After visiting Mont Saint-Michel, we arrived back in Paris quite late and dropped off the rental car. Since it was so late, we decided to take a cab to our hotel. Our driver seemed a little unsure about where we were going, but since our bags were in the trunk already, we trusted he’d get us there. Now, I’ve only been to Paris once and it was four years ago, but I’ve looked at a map of Paris a lot. And I knew exactly where our hotel was in relation to Gare du Nord. I may not have known exactly how to drive there, but I also didn’t expect it to take over half an hour in light traffic. So I finally asked our driver if he knew where he was going. While on the freeway, he turns on the light, pulls out a street atlas and begins flipping through the pages. While driving. On the freeway. We eventually found it and he gave us a discount on the metered price, but it explained a lot about Parisian drivers.
We started off our first day in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe. When I went to Paris with Kristy, we walked up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe, but sadly, we couldn’t figure out how to actually get over to it without crossing a huge and very busy roundabout. So we just admired it from afar. I was determined to actually see it up close on this visit, and we wanted to see the view from the top. Now, I’m not really one for climbing lots of stairs to get to the top of things (see Saint-Michel, Mont), but I had read there was an elevator.
We took the metro up to the Charles de Gaulle d’Etoile stop and paused for a minute to admire the arch.
Then I noticed a sign that said the entrance was on the Champs Elysee on the other side of the roundabout, so we started walking around and got a good view of the arch from the side, too.
And finally found the entrance to the underground passage that takes you to the arch (tip for the future: there was an entrance on the Charles de Gaulle side, too). Once on the island, we spotted the guard taking tickets to go to the top so we showed him our Paris Museum Pass and walked inside only to find a set of spiral stairs. We started up and they just kept going and going and going. I had to take a breather half way up. Some other tourists climbing the stairs nodded in sympathy and said, “We thought there was an elevator.” I did, too. And here’s the trick about those stairs, once you get to what you think is the top, there are still more stairs. But there’s also some stuff you can look at while you catch your breath.
Finally you get to the top, and the view is totally worth it. And it’s magical because it’s Paris. And when you look down one end, it’s the wide, tree-lined Champs Elysee.
And you have to take a picture of yourself with it just to prove you are really there.
Over another edge, you see the white domes of Sacre Coeur.
Or down the Avenue de la Grande Armee that leads to a modern arch.
Or how about the Eiffel Tower?
Yep, that too. Pretty. Lovely. Paris.
Turns out there is an elevator. I think it’s for those with limited mobility, though, and by special request. We did get to take it down, much to my relief because those stairs were really smooth and my shoes were kinda slippery. At the bottom, we spent some time checking out the sculptures and other details.
It’s definitely better up close.