Friday, December 12, 2003

Paris - Le Metro et Tour Eiffel

A day Paris pass is only Euro 6.50! Much better than London's Tube equivalent. I manage 'what is the line for St Michel' in French and am told 'It's line one'. But of course. The lines are numbered (London's are named). We find the right one and our stop without problems and notice how clean the Metro is compared to London's tubes. Obviously they employ more cleaners below ground than above, it seems.
Onwards to the Tower! But it's an RER train there, and we spend some time figuring out which platform and which direction. Asking helps, as always.
The Tower itself (we get off early and walk down the river to it) is simply magnificent. Photos don't convey just how big a footprint it has, and how tall it is compared to the rest of Paris. It's very delicate, not massive - curliques of ironwork everywhere.
The queues are very long already (it's 11 o'clock by now) so muttering 'we don't do queues' we buy a ticket for the stairs and walk up to the first platform. Not too quickly, but steadily. Queues duly bypassed.
This platform is only 1/3 or so up (100 metres of perhaps 330) but the view is very impressive. We have to go to the top now, and queuing for the lift is inevitable, so we do. The original stairs (there's a piece preserved) were spiral, narrow and 'became dangerous' so were removed. They looked damn dangerous to begin with, to our risk-averse, OSH affected eyes. And they used to go all the way to the top...
The view from the top is amazing. Paris from this height is white, and the gilded domes of the Invalides (soldiers hospital), the other church domes and the woods, make an entrancing panorama. It is extremely cold, with a biting wind, and many of the people up here are badly prepared for this. We aren't - possums have given their all for our comfort. But somehow the slogan 'Come to Paris and freeze your sorry ass off' (it's 1 degree C at midday, fer chrissake) hasn't occurred to copywriters.
Down again, and back around the river for a dose of Impressionists at Musee D'Orsay.

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