Saturday, July 2, 2016

Vertical

After emerging from the many dark corners of the Louvre, we are captivated by the sky, the clouds: puffy, rolling, bursting like marshmallow fireworks. It looks like a rococo painting, and is a surreal backdrop to the Parisian skyline. Most of all, we are amazed and thankful we can see the sky in the center of such a large city. Except for one small mini skyscraper on the very edge of official Paris, all buildings are no taller than six stories. Since most buildings are six floors, it creates a lovely, even skyline. Fom the open spaces, I can imagine myself in a Paris snow globe. 

 In a city that can't grow upward, it grows vertical in creative ways.



The most extreme vertical experience in Paris is climbing the Eiffel Tower.

"How many stairs to the top of Notre Dame?" I ask the tour consultant.

"About 300," Tony answers.

We hiked up Notre Dame three summers ago, and I remember the steep ascent.

When I think this could be my last time in Paris, the 700+ stairs to the second tier seems like nothing at all; I'm not leaving without climbing the Eiffel.

We bike to the tower park and find long security line and after that another line for tickets....but it's the line for riding the elevator...there isn't a line for walking the stairs. Is there ever a line for hard work?
Different photos of fireworks coming from the Eiffel.
When we arrive at the first level, the view is more amazing than I expected, and when we walk the next 300 stairs, it is even more so.  Paris from above reveals a whole different city. My perspective is clear and placement of where I've been and what I've seen is now in order. I see where Paris ends and the Ile de France begins, but with hardly a distinguishing line-- like a dress with a hemstitch.  I see the hill of Sacre Couer is a challenging bike ride. I see the massive green space of Bois de Boulogne, and the distinguishing architecture of La Defense. I see the Invalides' distance from the Pantheon and that we have indeed covered a lot of miles over Paris.

The second tier is filled with the tower's history including a short film with clips of historic moments--absolutely entertaining to watch the tower, the times, as they evolve over a hundred and thirty eight years. I find most entertaining a fact I learned from my French teacher back in high school: the Eiffel was despised and was supposed to be dismantled after the World Fair Expo celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution (gruesome).

"Although now a worldwide symbol of romance, the radical design of the Eiffel Tower inspired anything but love in the hearts of 300 prominent Parisian artists and intellectuals who signed the following manifesto that ran in the Le Temps newspaper on Valentine’s Day in 1887: “'We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects, passionate lovers of the beauty, until now intact, of Paris, hereby protest with all our might, with all our indignation, in the name of French taste gone unrecognized, in the name of French art and history under threat, against the construction, in the very heart of our capital, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower.'” The screed even said that the “'gigantic black factory chimney” was so loathed that “even commercial-minded America does not want'” it."
http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-eiffel-tower

Other notices about the Eiffel Tower:
*The climb once consisted of 1700 steps, but is limited to the first two levels for tourists
*An apartment for rent! What a view! But....I can't find the price anywhere though I've read it's very expensive...hmmmm....
*Finished in 1889
* The scene of daredevil deaths while trying to fly under the arch
*THE iconic structure of Paris
* During the European soccer tournament, a giant soccer ball hangs from its middle
*All edges, ledges and possible holes are covered to prevent jumping off the Eiffel
*The line to ride the elevator down the Eiffel is almost as long as elevator ticket purchase
*A clear floor circles the middle of the Eiffel--a person can walk over the city--I couldn't go near it. I noticed one other "wimp" who hugged the middle. I however, skirted the edge of psychological danger.
*Another middle aged woman and her husband conquer the Eiffel!

If you're going to Paris? Climb the Eiffel.

Comme tragic! The Eiffel was closed on Tuesday this past week when its workers decided to strike. Such a big, tourist city is so dependent on its critical service workers, that they often strike. Each time we have visited there has been a major strike pending or in action--transportation, garbage collectors, and now one of the most important tourist attractions--lost revenue will be great (my meager estimate is $300,000, euros), so no surprise it closed for only one day.