EIFFEL TOWER TOUR
After a solid 10+ hour sleep, Jase and I woke to the smell of fresh pastries, really bad bed hair and a Parisian spring in our step (which is just a bit more stylish than an Australian spring - more like a Jeté if you will) .
It was our second day in Paris and we pulled the curtains back to reveal a Monet like cloud dappled blue sky- a big difference from the heavy downpour we arrived to. After a late breakfast at a local patisserie, we made our way to the arranged meeting point- a train station behind the Trocadéro. After estimating it should take about 45mins- we got out our maps, tightened our shoelaces, got our ipads fully charged and we were on our way! As you can imagine, we were not looking like tourists at all (the only thing missing were bumbags, white ankle socks and a pair of binoculars around our neck).
We arrived just in time, after a last minute dash- our estimated 45 minutes turning into 1 hr 15 minutes- which may have had something to do with stopping for another pastry- but who needs the finer details at this point. And yes, it was worth it.
We met our lovely and gracious French tour guide Michelle (ma belle!) and she walked us through the famous Trocadéro plaza and down towards the Eiffel tower- explaining in detail any points of interest along the way- allowing us to stop and talk, take pictures and ask any questions. Once we reached the Eiffel tower, we realised how lucky we were to have had this tour booked in advance- the lines were INSANE (think hundreds of people snaking around corners and ticket booths). We cut through the lines and straight into the lift, feeling quite like the VIPs at a rock concert, only not as cool. At this point, Jase heads straight to the middle of the lift and pretends - rather well may I add - that he has no fear of heights. In reality, he can't stand on a phonebook without getting weak at the knees- but he was determined to not let this stand in the way of going up the Eiffel Tower (bless him- such a trooper- albeit a pale faced/trembling one).
When we stepped out of the lift I couldn't believe the sight infront of me. Paris, in her full glory- stretching as far as the eye could see. It was breathtaking, astounding, unbelievable. I was in such a state of awe (or was it shock?) to actually be here- that I just stood there and soaked in all in for a few minutes. Blocking everything else out (sorry Jase, you probably needed my hand- or a valium- at that point). What an amazing and stunning city Paris is. Just beautiful and something I will never forget.
Our host Michelle was a wealth of knowledge- one interesting point (admittedly I did know already know this-but surprisingly I was the only person on the tour who did/or maybe the only person keen enough to put up their hand?)- when Paris fell to German occupation on June 14, 1940, French resistance fighters allegedly cut the elevator cables to the Eiffel Tower. This meant that if Hitler wanted to hoist a swastika flag, a soldier would have to climb the roughly 1700+ stairs to the summit platform, which obviously put them off the idea. Strangely, within hours of the Liberation of Paris, the Tower’s lifts miracuolsly worked again. Funny that!
Our tour lasted approx 1 hour 30 minutes. It gave us access to all levels, including the top level of the tower (but please keep in mind, nothing can get you a fastpass/vip entrance to the top tier- you will have to line up no matter what tickets you hold). The top tier line was extremely long this day, so we gave it a miss - much to Jase's relief.
I recommend this amazing tour to anyone visiting Paris- not only for the ease of getting in- our tour guide was amazing. She was a local French woman who added real warmth and knowledge to the experience. She also was great in recommending places to eat and tips for visiting Paris- a really genuinely lovely person who enjoyed her job immensely. For those with hearing impairments- do not fret! You get earphones that worked really well, so you will have no problems with hearing your guide at all. I just loved this tour so much and I'm getting nostalgic thinking back on it. Maybe eating a crossiant will ease my nostalgia? Oui, it definitely will.
For more information on this tour (and the company)- visit: www.myparisiantour.com
All photos by Belinda- www.outoftheoffice.com.au
*I'm sure it's well known, but worth mentioning: the gypsies around the Eiffel tower are cunning and ruthless- we saw one incident (actually with our guide) that ended in a bit of an altercation. Just keep your belongings close and be aware of their presence- the normal scam is to get you to sign petitions- steer clear!