So, when I said I was going to France, everyone said, “Are you going to the Eifel Tower?”
“Of course!” I replied. “Who wouldn’t?”
The Eifel Tower is a visual symbol of Paris to the world, I think. Built for the World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle) in 1889 by Gustave Eifel, it symbolizes love, technology, design. It is a landmark, and I have to admit, when I saw it from the plane, my heart beat a little faster.
And, when I overshot my bus stop on the second day in Paris and landed on the front of it, I was in awe of its power, its beauty, and its height.
And when I saw it by night, I was a bit breathless at its beauty, lit by hundreds of thousands of lights.
As one of the world’s most visited landmarks, it must be a well-run machine of efficiency. Easy in, easy out. Elevator to the top. Great view. They must have a system.
I arrived at the tower at a reasonably early hour. True, not the crack of dawn, but nonetheless, I wasn’t dragging that day!
And the line… well, I’m not sure where it started or even if I got to the right end of it. I just hooked on to an unending snake of tourists speaking every language and waited for (I think) the ticket line.
And waited. It was a lovely sunny day, with a brilliant blue sky and every tourist who ever wanted to come to France was here at this very moment.
I gazed at my map and guidebook. I could be here for hours. And I’m terrified of heights. Do I really want to go up, up, up and be in what is looking more and more like a rickety structure just to say I did it?
After about 40 minutes, I decide to take my lunch of bread and cheese to the adjacent park and come up with a new plan!
That plan involved visiting the Musee Carnavalet (the Paris museum) and the Place des Vosges, a square near Carnavelet that was built 400 years ago in perfect symmetry, with 36 houses of brick and stone (nine on each side).
My friend Laura had recommended both -- she was right.
Victor Hugo lived and wrote "Les Miserables" here (although I didn’t visit his rooms).
And the park itself was lovely, again filled with people enjoying shady benches and sunny lawns, some with books, some with friends.
I took a few minutes to feed the birds that gathered at my feet as I finished off my lunch bread, glad that I’d saved some.
The Musee Carnavalet is devoted to the history of Paris and is comprised of adjoining mansions. A small but formal garden greets you.
I know I keep harping on the gardeners I see in Paris, but really, they do a marvelous job on often massive tasks.
Entire rooms are decorated with the paneling and elaborate ceilings (similar to Vaux le Vicomte)...
...rooms include furniture vignettes (this blue and white room particularly charmed me)...
(Isn't this screen great?)
...while galleries feature paintings and artifacts depicting Parisian life and history.
Others demonstrate daily life, like this depiction of the tools of the apothecary's trade.
I am fascinated by beautiful rooms. This would be a lovely one to spend some time in -- although I can't say that sofa looks all that comfy!
I was impressed by the groups of school children in their red hats, clustered around a teacher who told them about certain pieces of art.
(I would see these red hats elsewhere!)
The museum was immaculate, but I had to chuckle at this little diarama -- note the position of the little dog! Someone (perhaps one of those school children!) jostled it!
Elegant marble stairways with elaborate murals move guests from floor to floor.
The wrap-around murals were especially beautiful.
And I love accessories -- the clocks, the paintings.
These prints were part of a very large (and funny) series about the crinoline!
Of course there were numerous paintings from the era of Marie Antoinette and her contemporaries, as well as those of Josephine and her pals.
Carnavalet was a little gem and a free one at that. I was especially delighted that it was so close to Jerry’s, for by the end of the day, I was pretty tired!
Things I Learned Today:
Some of the best things in Paris are free – and those included Carnavalet, Place des Vosges, picnics in the park and the wonderful walks to get there.
Some things with admission end up not being worth the wait – at least to me.
A picnic in the park is a lovely way to watch people. (I was intrigued by a nanny and her charges. I wouldn’t have wanted to mess with her.)
Photographs – have I mentioned that in most museums in France you can take digital photos as long as you don’t use flash? They must be losing a fortune on post cards.