I’ll get to the full description shortly, but here’s a visual summary of how we felt about the day:
We started our first day in Paris by looking for a bakery or café where we could get some croissants and coffee. As we were looking at a map on a street corner, an elegantly dressed Parisian woman asked if we needed any help. We said we were fine and that we were just looking for a place to get some breakfast. Grabbing my arm, she told us that she lived in the area and that most nearby places were too expensive. She told us of one place that she considered fantastic and correctly priced and told us directions. When her English failed her, she decided to walk part of the way with us. Eventually, she sent us on our way, and we walked to “La Terrace,” where we exactly what we were looking for (coffee and croissants) as well eggs, bacon, baguettes, jelly, and juices. Everything was wonderful.
With everyone fed, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We got there via the park that extends from the tower.
The views of the tower were great, and Lydie and Cassie had fun jumping over puddles as the ran around the park.
Once we got to the tower, we had to choose between taking the stairs or the elevator up, and the girls (unsurprisingly) picked the stairs. We started walking and the kids started counting.
The higher we got, the colder and windier it became. It could have been our imaginations, but it felt like the entire tower swayed in the stronger gusts. The tower has three levels, and at the first level, there are parts where the floor is glass! If you look carefully, you can see tiny people in the third band of glass from the top.
We could only take the stairs as far as the second level (720 according to the girls), and had to take an elevator to the very top.
The views were amazing of course. We could see the Arc du Triomphe and Notre Dame in the distance. We also saw a large crowd of people gathering near the tower. The wind was extremely powerful at the top, and we were cold. We headed back down to warm up, and were a little relieved to be back on solid ground.
When we reached the bottom of the tower, the crowd we had seen from the top had started to march through the streets. We couldn’t tell what they were chanting at first, but it soon became clear that it was a demonstration in opposition of President Trump’s immigration and refugee policies. Having seen a family of Syrian refugees begging the night before, we were excited to join the march.
It was hard to estimate the size of the crowd, but it had to have been more than 1000 people.
It was a rare opportunity to walk in the streets of central Paris, and I was really hoping we’d storm the Bastille for old time’s sake. That might not have been a good idea given the police presence at the march. They were wearing hi-tech plastic armor and looked like they were ready for just about anything.
Still, we thought it was important that the police faced away from the protest and protected it, rather than facing towards the protesters with their guns out.
We left the protest to get food. Eventually, we found our way to a bakery, where we got muffins, a baguette, and small warm quiches. Everything was delicious, of course. Refueled again, we headed to Notre Dame. to get there, we walked along the Seine river in the light rain (and sang Abba).
When we got closer to Notre Dame, the weather started to clear, and we saw a rainbow stretch completely across Paris, ending at the cathedral.
In the light of the setting sun, the cathedral was stunning. The inside was just as impressive, but we didn’t take pictures there out of respect. After the cathedral, we headed back to our flat. Julie and I found some take-out burgers and a bottle of wine, and we enjoyed a tired, happy meal before quickly falling asleep.
Tomorrow we plan to get our art on at the Louvre.