Paris – August 18, 2014
Weather – warm, no rain today
Written by Roxanne
Although we got a late start to the day, the ending was perfect. We had planned to visit the Eiffel Tower a number of times throughout our stay in Paris, but something else had always come up. Today was our last day in Paris and we were determined not to let anything come in the way of our visit. We caught the metro only to find out that the connecting train we needed to get us there was not operational. Still determined, we decided to walk. It was only to take about 30 minutes. Off we went walking along the River Siene which would lead us to the Eiffel Tower. We should have known better, but hadn’t planned on all the distractions along the way. First we spotted a quaint little book store (we always seem to stop at the book stores), and had to go in. They had shelves and shelves lined with English travel guides so we picked up three (travel guides in English are very hard to find). A few minutes later we stumbled across the bridge of locks. Aurora had wanted to see the bridge and even purchased a little blue lock to clip to the bridge, but today she didn’t bring it with her. The bridge has thousands of locks; some old and rusty, some new and shiny. Some are engraved with names, others with names written with a marker. Some locks have colorful ribbons hanging from them. Some were bike locks and combination locks. Many locks heart shaped commemorating a special date. There isn’t a spot on the bridge for another lock. We decided to hang a lock on the bridge and went in search for a lock. We found one with the Eiffel Tower engraved on it for 4 euros. We bought it and wrote “Family Bucketeers” on it (if you find our lock, take a picture and send it to us). After finding the perfect stop to hang it, Aurora got the honor of locking it on the bridge.
I had read that the weight from all the locks was causing stress and damage to the bridge so they were cutting some of the locks off. Well now that I saw the bridge with the million locks on it I can understand the problem. The wire fencing is literally pulling away from the railing causing the locks to fall into the river. There were sections on the bridge that were covered or replaced with plywood where people would write on it as a way to discourage people from hanging a lock. Noah wrote our name on it; so we should be covered if they cut our lock off.
We continued our walk, passing street vendors, street performers, artists sitting on benches painting or sketching the sites of Paris, groups of friends gathering after work to enjoy a glass of wine and laughter together; fitness classes and dance parties. How fun it must be to live in and enjoy Paris for all it has. As we continued walking, we kept looking up hoping to get a glimpse of the top of the Eiffel Tower, but with all the big buildings and trees it was hard to spot. Finally, we could see the top of the Tower, Aurora was so excited she was almost running. When we finally arrived I was surprised that there weren’t more people, but I guess that was because it was almost 8pm. I quickly found a staff member and asked how long the line was. Pointing to the line closest to her, she said take this line, it’s the shortest…only 45 minutes. I was excited because I heard horror stories of people waiting up to 4 hours to get in. We quickly got in line and waited our turn to go to the top. After passing through two security checks and purchasing our tickets to the “Summit”, we were standing waiting for the elevator to the second level an hour later. The elevator ride up was slow and a bit jerky offering little glimpses of Paris. Finally reaching level 2, the mass of people poured out of the elevator and rushed to the rail to get the best view of Paris. Aurora and I were slower (OK, more apprehensive), until there were not people rushing to the edge. Noah on the other hand was gone; snapping pictures and caught up to us bit later. After a few minutes we got our bearings and made it to the railing. I have to admit, the view was spectacular. Even in the early evening hours we could see the Arch of Triumph and the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre. To make it even more special, the silver strobe lights were turned on while we were on the tower. After getting our view of Paris from the second level, we got back into line to catch the elevator to the top. The elevator ride up was slower and we could feel it sway a little. On the way up I’m already thinking about just staying on the elevator and going back down. My heart was racing. I didn’t really need to go to the top . . . but I kept thinking of the extra 6 euro I spent to go to the top, I couldn’t just waste the money. It took everything in me to get out of the elevator. Slowly I stepped out and into the cold and wind. We took a few pictures and I was ready to head down to the safety of the ground. But no, Len and Noah found the steps leading to the top of the top. Up they climbed leaving Aurora and I behind, telling us they will only take a quick look and would be right down. No, that did not happen. We waited and waited and when they didn’t return we gathered our courage and climbed the metal stairs up to the very top. Once at the top we took a quick glimpse of the city through the wire cage and quickly returned to the second level and went straight to the gift shop and bought cookies and waited for Len and Noah to find us.
We are proud that we made it to the top, but enjoyed the second level much more. We did not make it to the first level as it was almost midnight by the time we left the Eiffel Tower, but we have no regrets. Seeing the Eiffel Tower on our last night in Paris was the perfect ending to our time in Paris, so we are glad it worked out that way.