Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The City of Light, at night

One of the most amazing things about Paris is that on any given night, the city is alive with gorgeous views. It is after all, called "the City of Lights." In the winter there are even more fantastic lights to see and I dragged Lyle all over town until both of us were completely crippled.We started at the Place de la Concorde end of Champs-Elysees and walked to the Arc de Triomphe. Even though this isn't my first visit to Paris, there was something I hadn't done that I wanted to do. I wanted to stand on top of the Arc de Triomphe and see the lights from above.

We walked, and walked in the freezing night and I kept saying to Lyle, "Are you sure you can make it? We can take the subway for part of it..." But we were both enjoying the sights and even though it was cold, we were bundled up against the elements.

As we got closer, I told Lyle that we could either speed up and make it to the top by 7 pm, or we could slow down and make it to the top by 8 pm. It was very important that I be on the top at precisely the top of the hour. Lyle said we could do 7 pm, but we only had 20 minutes to get there AND get to the top.

"It has an elevator, right?" asked Lyle.
I think it does. I answered
"You think? Or you KNOW?"
Uh, I can't promise. Now hurry up!

And off we hurried. To access the Arch, you have to go down the stairs, under the street, back up stairs, to a ticket window where you buy your pass to get to the top, up a few more stairs and then they let you pass the entrance door... and then you discover that there is no elevator but there is a spiral staircase that contains 283 steps to reach the outdoor viewing platform at the top.

No time to waste, hurry, hurry, hurry... I MUST BE ON THE TOP BY 7:00!!!
Looking up at the stairs.

And so we ran. Upstairs. Our legs got weak but we continued. We ran out of breath, but we continued. WE finally came out to the first interior room (way up in the top) and Lyle checked the time. Panting, he told me, "We (breath) have (breath) ten (breath) minutes (heavy breathing)." I stooped over and held myself up by resting my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. My legs were like jello.

"Okay, but no gift shop. Gift shop on way down." I said. (as if Lyle was even interested in the gift shop)

We caught our breath and made out way up to the top with five minutes to spare. It's the most amazing view.
This is how far we had walked in the below freezing temperature, up the Champs-Elysees, from that small lighted circle in the distance which is a 197 feet tall Ferris Wheel, then up 284 stairs, as fast as possible, all so I could finally see this light show that takes place on the top of each hour...

It was so worth it.

Did I mention that after the light show we would have to walk back down?


A Lewis said...

I'm loving these pics! You guys picked a perfect time to be over there -- cold, clear, wintery, snowy.....it's made the pictures just that much more pretty.

Billy said...

Great pics and storyJim. I am going to Paris in March and now I totally want to do this!!!

My Blog said...

meet me in vegas for new year's?

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Michael Guy said...

OH MY GOD: that hike was so worth the glittery Eiffel Tower video!