Once again we took the bus tour around the city, this time travelling to the furtherest areas of Paris. Naturally, as we are in Paris, we grabbed chocolate croissants for breakfast on our way to the tour bus. We saw the industrial district along the Seine, which includes a four-part building where each part is shaped like an open book. This building is the library of Paris and it houses a massive collection of books and rooms for public use (only the first two floors) as well as areas designated solely to special research. In addition to the millions of books in the library, there is even an original Gutenberg Bible. In between the buildings is a garden full of rare plants.
The bus tour also took us up to the older part of Paris full of cabarets and solely dedicated to pleasure after the war. Along this stretch is the infamous Moulin Rouge with its red windmill, which locals told us is still the best cabaret in town. Ironically, the cabarets are at the bottom of the hill that rises to hold the beautiful Sacre Coure basilica-both monuments are in the fun Montmartre neighborhood. The Basilica of Sacre Coure is both beautiful and surprisingly large. We have both seen quite a few churches on this trip but we also both agree that it was especially beautiful, as was the view of Paris from Montmartre. The story of Sacre Coure is also very interesting (hopefully I will have time to tell it later).
Next we headed to an entirely different area of Paris that includes St. Genevieve church, the University, and the Pantheon. We accidentally stubbled into the church of St. Genevieve, who is the patron saint of Paris, is a lovely example of the gothic French architecture. Right up the street is the massive columns and dome of the Pantheon. The architect was inspired by Greek architecture and thus designed a white building with tall columns, a big dome, and open halls. In the Pantheon we saw hommages to the French saints, the Revolution, and famous Frenchman and women. Those entombed in the massive crypt include: Voltaire, Marie Currie, French freedom fighters, a French slave (who fought slavery), and Rousseau. Even the architect lays in the Pantheon. As morbid as it seems, the Pantheon was one of my favorite places we have been in Paris.
Instead of taking the bus, we did the typical French thing and walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. It was a beautiful walk that provided us with incredible views of different parts of the city. In the baking sun we saw the language institute, which houses the body that decides what is and is not French, a palace, Hotel DeVille, Isle de la Cité, Isle de Sant Louis, and the beach. Each August the French government builds a beach along the Seine for those Parisians who cannot escape the city. They have subsidized music, ice cream, playgrounds for kids, big chairs for adults, and other things. Even though it was late in the evening, the beach was packed with locals sunbathing and playing in the sand.
We made it to the Eiffel Tower just as the sun began to set and surprisingly (and with great amounts of luck) we did not have to wait too long in line. We climbed to the first floor as the sun turned the entire city red. By the time we crawled to the second floor (its a greater distance than it looks), much of the city was painted blue, except for the Seine and the building directly across from the Eiffel Tower, which glowed in pinks and reds. We decided to wait on the second floor to see the Tower sparkle for the first time that night. Starting at 10pm and ending at 1am, the Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes on the hour, every hour. From where we sat, we were able to see the entire time light up, while the city was still lit up from the setting sun-the beauty of the scene is unimaginable and my pictures do not do it justice. From the second floor we had to take an elevator up to the very top. As the last dregs of sunlight lit up the city, we ate dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat at the very ritzy hotel but rather dined on seasoned noodles- this seemed appropriate considering it was the staple of diet in Europe. We stayed at the top to see the Tower sparkle once more (it wasn’t quite as exciting when you can’t see it all). Because of the lines and the long climb down, we had to literally run across the street to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower light up once more. Saving the absence of Ernest Hemingway, midnight in Paris was unbelievably awesome (SEE THE MOVIE). Furthermore, since it took us nearly an hour to find the metro, we decided to grab Nutella crepes and wait for the Tower to sparkle one last time. We ended our night eating crepes under a sparkling Eiffel Tower- it was one of our best days yet.