Friday, July 26, 2013


Paris is FULL of towers and monuments, all begging to  be surmounted for the incredible views they afford.  Many (but not all) have elevators.  ALL have stairs in addition to wherever the elevator drops you - you must climb up or down to the elevator, depending. 

One morning, without any particular plan in mind, we went to the Champs-Elysees to shop with an eye toward touring the Arc de Triomphe and having cookies and hot chocolate for lunch.  Babygirl had discovered that none of the shoes she brought were really supportive enough.  Her meds make her feet tend to swell, and by the end of our second day foot pain had become a big issue.  Shopping for shoes on one of the most expensive streets in Europe didn't seem like a great plan, but hey, Make-A-Wish had given us instructions to spend ALL of our money, so why not? 

Babygirl found a pair of black high top sneakers.  We'll be lucky if she ever takes them off she loves them so much. 

Anyway, back to the towers.  

We bought passes for the Arc de Triomphe and were informed that the elevator was reserved for the handicapped and small children.  Hubby decided that being four days post-appendectomy constituted a handicap and the rest of us took to the stairs.  All 296 of them. 

Once at the top,  however, we were blessed to catch our breath surrounded by one of the best views Paris has to offer.  Our hotel, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur Cathedral - all of them bright in the morning sun.  We climbed back down, had our macaroons and chocolate, and in a fit of sugar-inspired energy, decided that Sacre Coeur was next.  I know I already mentioned this under 'Churches' but it deserves double mention, believe me.

Once we had visited the interior of the cathedral we notice a sign pointing to the dome and the crypt.  Since the temperature that day was approaching 90 degrees, the crypt had a certain allure.  We went down about 40 steps to discover that the entrance to both the dome and the crypt were in the same location.    We discussed our options.  If the view from the Arc was impressive, the view from the dome must be spectacular - after all, the cathedral is built on the highest hill in Paris.  The catch?  Signage that clearly stated there were more than 300 steps up and no lift.  We're still day four post-op here and Hubby has a bad knee....

Aw, what the hell.  We have Advil.  And Tylenol.  AND Percocet.  So we bought passes.  Yes, you have that right.  We PAID to do this. 

Old stone steps.  Spirals lit only by arrow slits.  Straight runs along the edge of the roof.  Steps varying from 4 to 16 inches in height/depth going around tight corners to go up and OVER the roof to enter another set of dimly-lit spirals.  We moved from below the roof-top sculpture of St. George and the Dragon to eye-level with ol' George to far, far above them both until we finally, finally reached the 2' wide ledge that runs around the bottom of the dome.

I'm fairly sure that there was nothing in all of Paris that we could not see.  A visiting choir began to sing far below us on the steps of the church, sweet music drifting up to us as we circled, and circled, and circled the dome.  We were admiring the view, honest.  Trying to work up the courage to start back DOWN had nothing whatsoever to do with it. 

It took me over 5 minutes to set foot down the first step, a high one, first of an uneven almost-spiral that started me into the dark.  Hubby had gone first, then the girls.  A couple of dozen steps down, I heard Citygirl ask hubby in urgent tones if she could pass him. NOW.  Somehow going down was so much worse than going up that it triggered a bout of claustrophobia, and she literally ran for the bottom.  We're lucky she didn't kill herself!

Once at the bottom, we toured the crypt, and then had to climb back OUT, return to the funicular and then continue to climb down toward the train station.  We stopped for a delicious dinner, included a LOT of wine, and took the train to the base of the Eiffel tower for our sunset Seine river cruise (which, I confess, included a couple of more drinks).  Just as we were docking, the Eiffel tower lit up fully, sparkling and glowing in the fading twilight, brilliant, overwhelming beauty.

So naturally, we decided to climb THAT too. 

Waiting in line for an hour for passes (a short wait, I assure you) cooled our climbing ardor a bit.  We took the elevator up to the second level, about 2/3 of the way up (the top level had closed since it was nearing midnight).  Once again we were sure we had the finest view in all of Paris.  Cities of all kinds are lovely at night with all of the glowing lights, but Paris is exceptional.  The Ferris Wheel (one little girl near us said it should be called a Paris Wheel!) at the Tuileries Garden was brightly lit, the street plan so clear.   Ahhhhh.

The girls decided to take the stairs down.  We took the elevator, and they beat us.  They said they counted over 400 steps. 

Yup.  Three of Paris' highest monuments in one day.  That's how we do things.


1 comment:

  1. Good God! I climbed a MUCH MUCH smaller set of stairs in a castle in Ireland - same scenario - uneven stairs onto a parapet and it brought on a full blown acrophobic episode (yeah, I looked it up ha ha). I applaud your courage, not to mention STAMINA! Memories for a lifetime! Judy