After 24 hours of travel (in which most of my children slept very little and the oldest not at all) we arrived in Paris on a Sunday afternoon. Our place is lovely (pictures later) and we are all tired! So what to do? Why go visit the Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning.
Well, "first thing" is a little bit of an overstatement when you have 6 children and 4 of them are under 2! A walk to the metro and about an hour later it came above ground with a gorgeous view! Unfortunately I didn't have my camera out yet.
Then... since we had been unable to get advance tickets we had to stand in line for about 2 hours to get tickets and go up. Brian got peed on... twice. And we found some rather gross hotdogs so that we could all have a bite to eat since we hadn't planned on being out all day.
But we finally made it actually inside the leg of the tower. Which is where we saw the Christmas tree decorated with miniature Eiffel Towers. The elevators go up in 2 sets. The first one stops halfway up and there are two floors for observation with bathrooms and gift shops inside. Somehow Hope lost one of her shoes in the bathroom and as we walked away she was telling me "shoe! shoe!" and then as I kept walking she started crying. I felt her feet and realized she was trying to tell me she'd lost one. It was safe and sound with the bathroom attendant! (which, hooray, make the bathrooms lovely and clean for such a public place!)
This is the view to the west. Along both sides of the pool are white roofed shops that made up a Christmas market. Between the two curving buildings is a huge flat plaza that has a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower. The skyscrapers out beyond that look like "downtown" are actually outside of Paris proper and make up a new business district. There are NO tall buildings in Paris. We could see this area to the south west of us when we walked to and from the Metro.
This is the view to the north east with the tallest point in the center being the hill in Montmarte with the Sacre Coeur church on it. The Louvre is just up the far side of the river to the east.
From the middle observation deck, looking up!
It was very overcast, sort of rainy, and REALLY windy. I was struck by how white Paris was though. All the buildings were pale enough that the overall effect was white. I don't think I've ever seen another city like that.
Look, we all made it!
This is the view from the very top - twice as high as the Space Needle! We could definitely feel it swaying in the wind up here... The arrow above is the Arc de Triomphe and somewhere off in the middle distance is where we were staying - in Courbevoie. It's technically outside of Paris proper and across another swing of the Seine River, but it still felt like being in the city for the most part.
Yes, there was wire all the way around the top. And you couldn't go on the other side at all, the wind was so strong it felt like you couldn't breathe.
In the middle is the palace that houses the Louvre. If you click on this photo you can see the glass pyramid in the courtyard that is the entrance!
Uncle Joel at the top! Allison took her kids back rather than stand in line for 2 hours. She'd been up before and it's not like they would remember!
View to the east on the way down in the elevator. And signs everywhere that said "beware of pickpockets". We never had any issues, but it was enough to practically make you paranoid!
Walking through the Christmas market. Something I didn't expect, but pretty much the only places we ended up getting to do any shopping while we were there. They also had fresh crepes, these fun waffles, hot cider, and of course all kinds of other things to buy.
This is from the plaza that you could see in the very first picture. Noah was sooo done by this point and refusing to take any photos, poor kid.
And since we were beyond the end of the metro lines we had to walk about 15 minutes each way, but we got to cross this lovely looong bridge across the Seine and heading back there were fun lights to watch. The lights right behind the stoplight were a fountain shape that moved and Noah actually thought there was a fountain there, but there was no water, just a decoration.
Then we had dinner (which was an Allison saga since it was an industrial kitchen and everything burns FAST) and went to bed. Of course, the girls wanted to get up from about 1-3am and play and the boys thought 4am was wake-up time, but at least we weren't planning on going anywhere for Christmas Eve!
And so ends our first day in Paris...