6 Nov 2012

Bonjour Paris

In fear of the massive queues for the Eiffel Tower we decided to do this monument first thing one morning – if you call leaving the apartment 9am first thing in the morning. I recall getting off a station and ending up at one side of the tower, roughly at the start of Champ de Mars but the walk to the allowed us some panoramic shots of the tower.

When we got to the gates we realised they don’t actually open until 9:30am leaving us with a waiting time of 7mins. So basically if you’re prepared to wait for the gates to open then there’s really no point in arriving really early, it just adds to the waiting and queuing time. The queues for the lifts were long however the queue to walk up to the decks was not as long. So we headed over to the walking option and were through the gates, climbing the tower within minutes.

There are about 500 steps just to the first deck. They even count each step for you by marking each step with a number. I wouldn’t recommend the walk to someone who is considerably unfit or has weak knees as the hike is quiet tiring – hello it’s 500 steps!

On the first deck obviously there are 360 degree views of Paris, a cafeteria if you want to get some refreshments, bathrooms and a function room from memory.

There was a foggy haze throug h the city the day we climbed the Tower.

From here you can also choose to climb up to the second deck (another 200 steps) or catch the lift to the second deck. Alternatively you can walk or take the lift back down to the ground. We decided to walk up to the second deck. During the walk up I started to feel some vertigo and found the hike up a little uncomfortable.

Second deck is pretty much the same as the first deck however I think there’s a restaurant instead of a cafeteria.

From here you can catch lift to the top deck however you will need to pay an additional fee. We decided to give it a miss and head back down to the ground via the lifts. Waiting for the lifts was so painful as there was only 2 lifts operating that morning and there were so many people already on the tower at that time.

Again a major historical monument we were seeing (and potentially never see in person again) was being obstructed. To see where more evidence of other major monument being blocked or obstructed click here.

We decided another way to see as much of Paris without getting too lost along the way was to catch one of those hop on hop off tour buses. There are about 3 bus companies operating in Paris and all pretty much looping the same key monuments all offering 24 or 48 hours valid tickets allowing you unlimited rides on their buses during that period of time. There are various bus stops on the route so you can hop off the bus and hop on at any point in time at one of the designated bus stops, allowing you to see the city in on your own pace.

We decided to go with L’Open Tour because they had 4 bus routes on offer. We purchased a 48 hours ticket which cost 32E. We only got to do 3 out of the 4 tour routes … they really need to over a 72 hour bus ticket. Their buses have an audio guide which you can listen to with the free head phones that were provided with your ticket. It’s just a looped recording which talks about historical facts regarding the area the bus is driving through at that point in time.

What’s great about these bus companies is you can get on and buy tickets from any bus stop. The bus driver issues tickets first time you get on board. Therefore this means sometimes we could be stuck at a bus stop for several minutes waiting for the masses of new passengers to buy their tickets. Another issue I found with the tour is at times buses get stuck in traffic adding to time wasted on the bus instead of seeing sights. We also noticed some routes had less buses looping (or they’re stuck in traffic) meaning the buses are full resulting in standing room only.

After staying on for one loop we got off the Arc de Triomphe stop. This place is very touristy but you got to do it whist in Paris. It a massive round about that connects six different roads. To access the arc pedestrians need to walk under the road – don’t try to cross the road like some of the idiots we saw. You can also climb the arc but again at a fee. We didn’t bother climbing the arc considering the views weren’t the best that day due to the weather. However now that I think about it I wish we climbed it or went back and climbed it another day.

From here you can walk down the Avenue des Champ Elysees. You can get your shopping fix at the various high end designer stores and main stream retails stores. There are also many restaurants along this street and side streets.

We proceeded to walk down the Champ Elysees, past the Tuileries Gardens, The Lourve and finally arrived back to our apartment. It was a tiring day of sight seeing and walking I was exhausted and crashed in bed.

At 8pm Ian woke me up asked if I we were going to eat dinner. A little eatery was recommended to me by a friend and I knew it was close by. So we headed over to L’As Du Falafel to try their famous falafel’s. The place is pretty busy when we arrived with people queuing outside waiting to be seated.

They do have a takeaway option up front too for those who just want to grab something to go. The staff do a good job of herding the customers into the restaurant and probably adds to the reputation. I had a shawarma falafel and it hit the hunger spot.


Got any other tips you want to add to avoid waiting queues at the Eiffel Tower?
Know and recommend any other cheap places to eat in Paris?
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