Sunday, February 26, 2012

Les Invalides, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, and me, Eloise

If I were a childrens' storybook character (random, right?) I would be Eloise from the Hilary Knight books.  Like Eloise, I am imaginative, impulsive, and love to find hidden cubbies and adventures.  One of my favorite Eloise books was the one where she goes to Paris.  I like to think that I am keeping her spirit alive in my alternative sightseeing.  (Just not asking rude questions of passers-by or squealing.  The second one is a little hard sometimes).

Today I went off (sans map) in search of the Eiffel Tower (or really any of the landmarks in that vicinity).  The first I stumble across was Hotel Invalides.  This old military hospital still houses and cares for just over a dozen soldiers.  I saw some of them headed into church at the chapel in the courtyard.  Since admission to most museums, churches, and monuments runs anywhere from 8 euros to 15 euros, I decided to skip the military history museum.  After hearing that it has one of the most impressive collections of World Wars I and II weapons and etc., I might have to go back.  Plus, it's Napoleon's final resting place.  Who doesn't want to see his tomb?

The golden dome is recognizable anywhere, and the courtyard was MASSIVE and lined with cannons.  Very cool.

I headed out the front door and into the park that leads across the Pont de Alexander bridge and to the Champs Elysees.  I wandered pretty slowly because it was pretty weather and way early for most tourists.  9 AM on a Sunday is a perfect time for crowd-avoiding.  I saw both the Petite and Grande Palaces (constructed, like the bridge, for the Worlds Fair)

Then it was on to the Champs-Elysees -the Rue and its surrounding streets are the French 5th avenue.  Very swanky.  Crowning the street, so to speak, is the magnificant Arc d'Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate his victories.  It was, indeed, magnificent, but crowded with tourists.  I took my pictures and admired from afar.

On my way back down the street (to Marks and Spencer, of all places.  I needed some Cheddar cheese which is devlishly hard to come by in Continental Europe!)  I passed this sorry sight:

The ONLY store with a line in front of it was Abercrombie and Fitch.  The wriggling mass of squealing preteens applying bright pink lip gloss was a little unsettling.  I mean, I like a super-cute Abercrombie model as much as anyone, but seriously.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for (well someone in particular!)  The Eiffel Tower:

The lines were SOOOOOO long (like hundreds of people) so I opted to not go in.  I'm going to try to go back after dark to see the tower all lit up and beautiful, though.  I learned that the tower is so well built that never moves more then 3.5 inches, even in the strongest winds.  It was the tallest tower in the world until the Empire State Building unseated it.  We Americans, always having to be the one-uppers :D

Spring is springing in Paris.  I'm glad to be here to see it.


  1. Dear Emma, I am eating Cheerios. I LOVED the Eiffel tower pictures!! Actually they were great. What was that box underneath it with the doorway? I also liked looking at the cars. I don't have anything else that I want to say. Love, Asher

    1. The Eiffel Tower is really cool, isn't it! And yay for cheerios. They're pretty delicious. The box underneath the tower is a ticket-office. There are four of them -one under each leg (not sure what you call them!). The lines were very, very long because so many people want to go up to the top. There's a secret, though -the best views of Paris are actually from Montmartre (the highest point in the city). You can even see the Eiffel Tower from there!