Our tour of Paris wouldn't have been complete without a trip to the famed monument along the Rive Gauche. Actually, we ended up going there twice, one for the day time view and another for the light show at night. It's a little cliche and incredibly crowded, but how could we pass up the chance to see what all the key chains, necklace pendants, t-shirt prints, etc. were all about!
A stunning view of the Eiffel Tower against a clear summer sky
We were actually considering queuing for some tickets to go up the tower but when we saw this insane mass of people waiting for a turn, we decided we were perfectly content with the ground level view.
A ticket to use the lift to the very top costs around EUR12 and a ticket to use the lift to the second floor was around EUR7. If you're particularly fit, you can opt to buy a ticket to take the stairs (704 steps) up to the second floor for only EUR4. Needless to say, the line to that option wasn't very long. One way to beat the crowds is to reserve a table for dinner at Le Jules Verne, a restaurant at the 2nd floor by famous chef Alain Ducasse. However, be prepared to shell out EUR75 or PHP4,600 per person, per meal.
Every seven years, the tower gets a fresh coat of paint that is actually called "Eiffel Tower brown," which is a shade of bronze but actually looks chocolate brown up close.
Here's a view of the tower at night from Jardins du Trocadero, which is directly across it from the Seine. It's even more breathtaking in the evening, set against the rest of Paris' sparkling lights.
We managed to catch the light show which runs at the top of every hour for five minutes. The shot above shows the 20,000 twinkling light bulbs distributed all over the tower. It took 25 mountain climbers 5 months to install all the bulbs!
It was a great (FREE!) way to cap off our month-long date in Europe.
We were joined for the evening by this fellow who seems to be living the life! :)
Since we didn't manage to get a sweeping view of the city from the Eiffel Tower, we thought we'd go to the top of Montmartre to visit the Basilique du Sacre-Couer and the famous view of the city.
Luckily, we didn't have to climb all the way up because our metro pass allowed us to use the funicular for free.
That's one long, steep climb we didn't want to take. View after the jump!
The basilica steps were packed with people marveling at the amazing view in front of them. It is said to rival the views from the tops of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, seeing as how Montmartre is the highest point in Paris.
Our dinky, old camera managed to get a good slice of the panoramic view. Why so pretty, Paris?
FOOD: BOUILLON CHARTIER
D: A French acquaintance told me about this restaurant that even the locals would line up for. She said the food was delicious and affordable and that the dining experience was a truly Parisian one.
After getting slightly lost, we found a line of people creeping out of this little alley. What we thought would be yet another long wait ended up being pretty quick since it's easier to seat pairs rather than groups.
The perky receptionist led us towards this unassuming facade, with the only indication of a top-notch restaurant being dozens of citations from food critics in the form of the stickers littering the glass panes.
The interiors were glorious in their well-maintained, original form. It was a bit hot though because of how packed the place was. Just how packed, you ask?
Well it turns out, private tables were hard to come by and couples usually ended up sitting side by side with other pairs.
No complaints though! After the initial shock at the idea of dining with complete strangers, we were pleased to be in the company of this lovely English couple who regaled us with stories of the history of boulangeries (like this one) and of their own Parisian adventures.
D's cider and P's Kronenbourg beer
P: Being the crazy picky eater that she is, I managed to convince D to try out the escargot for our appetizer.
D: After a bit of a struggle pulling out the snail from the shell, this booger-y thing came out. I was completely ready to run away but the English couple on my left and the French family on my right were watching us intently and I didn't want to embarrass myself. When I finally popped it into my mouth, it turned out to be freaking amazing!! I felt so foolish and so I acted like I loved it all this time! Loved the gooey garlic goodness!
D: Duck confit with potatoes
Simple as it gets, just the way I like it! No annoying garnishes and yucky vegetables (potatoes are not counted) and the duck was so flavorful and moist.
P: Steak hache with mustard sauce and chips
Not your Jollibee burger steak, despite the similar appearance. The meat was juicy and perfect with the mustard and the beer.
Baba au rhum: This was rhum cake with a big dollop of cream. It was so good but you see the liquid on the plate? Yeah, that's not syrup. I had to learn the hard way when I filled a spoonful of strong rhum and burned my throat. Best taken in small doses.
When we called for the check, our waiter scribbled illegibly on the table cover. We found out from the couple that the waiters here were actually self-employed and each one had to rent out tables and buy the food directly from the kitchen. It's an interesting take on the dining industry and the food service profession.
So there you have it, the last leg of our Eurotrip! Paris presented a surprise at every corner but we left a lot of the city unturned so there would be reason for us to come back one day.
Despite our apprehensions because of the tourist hype, it's really impossible to not fall in love with the City of Lights.