We woke to the sound of raindrops this morning, but that didn't keep us from exploring beautiful Paris.
On our agenda today was to visit the Eiffel Tower and ride the elevator to the top. David and I usually visit it our first evening in Paris, but we've never been to the top. So today was the day!
We didn't have advance tickets, so had to stand in line for about 1/2 hour to get tickets. There were 7 people in line ahead of us when we got there, but the line grew quickly and snaked around the tower.
Here are my guys, standing in line while I wander around taking pictures:
There were several armed military soldiers patrolling the area, complete with automatic weapons:
They opened the ticket booth promptly at 9:30, we paid our 14 Euros each, and got on a very large elevator. They packed us in like sardines!
The view from the top was worth the wait, what a view of Paris. The gold dome is Invalides; Napoleon's tomb lies under the dome.
A view of the river Seine:
We didn't stay on the top level too long, it was very windy and cold! We went back down to the middle level and looked in the gift shop, didn't buy anything, but I found this handsome beret wearing guy! Think I'll take him home with me and keep him forever...............
We were still pretty cold from our visit to the top of the tower, so we stopped by the small snack bar on this same level. Cappucinos and hot chocolate warmed us up, so we continued on down the tower, and walked back to our apartment, which is only a few blocks away.
One last look:
Backed at our apartment we dropped off some souvenirs, warmed up a bit, and headed right back out to our "home" Metro stop. Next on our itinerary: St. Denis Basilica Cathedral. David and I visited the basilica last year, we were fascinated by the amazing history and beauty. We were pretty sure Matt would enjoy it too, and he did!
It was an easy Metro ride to the outskirts of Paris to the St. Denis area. There was a market in the square today so we thought we'd stroll through before we went into the cathedral. We browsed just a few stalls, noticed the weather was looking threatening. Soon we heard thunder and it started to rain. The rain quickly turned into a major hail storm, complete with big, gusty winds. It was really hailing hard, and the vendors were frantic trying to save their wares--it was quite a scene! We tried to stay dry under our umbrellas, but they just turned inside out in the wind! We finally gave up and ducked into a small shopping arcade to escape.
By now it was lunch time and most of the storm had passed, so we walked to a small restaurant to have lunch, warm up and try to dry out just a little! It was a pretty mediocre lunch, but at least it was warm and dry in there. When we came out into the street after lunch the sun was shining brightly!
It was a short block to Basilica St. Denis. Here is exterior--they are busy at work maintaining this wonderful old cathedral:
The stained glass windows at St. Denis are beautiful:
Catherine of Medici:
We spent quite a while inside the cathedral, Matt was really enjoying the incredible art and history. It wasn't any warmer inside than outside, so we were happy to get back on the Metro and head back to Paris. Along the way we decided we had time for one more site today--The Arc de Triomphe. We made a couple of line changes, and got off at the Charles deGaul Etoile stop where there is a tunnel under the big roundabout by the Arc. Up the stairs and out onto the street to this beautiful sight: