Gaining a bit of confidence that we could navigate through Paris by foot and metro, we set off to explore the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées.
Planned in the mid-19th century by Baron Haussmann and commissioned by Napoleon, the magnificent 165-foot Arc de Triomphe was built to commemorate Napoleon’s 1805 victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. At the foot of the arch, two centuries of Parisian history unfold, from the funeral of Napoleon, the arrival of the Nazis, and the triumphant return of Charles de Gaulle after the liberation of the Allies. Beautiful carvings on the pillars and an eternal flame that marks the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier grace the arch and the base. Once inside we climbed the 284 steps to the observation deck, where we took in the panoramic views of the city and the 12 arteries (roadways) radiating out from the arch. This is the only place in Paris where, if there is an accident, each driver is considered equally at fault. No matter the circumstances, insurance companies split the costs 50/50.
We took the lift back to the base of the arch and strolled the Champs-Elysées, the internationally famous boulevard that has become Paris’ backbone. When we entered the Tuileries Garden, we made our way over to the Orangerie Museum, another of our favorite museums in the city. It is the closest you will come to stepping into an Impressionist painting. Although we enjoyed many of the various artists’ paintings, Monet’s Water Lilies were the most striking.
We had an adventure planned for that evening so decided that a midday rest was in order. After strolling through the Tuileries Garden we hopped onto the metro, where Terry was to experience a different kind of adventure.
Everywhere we went we heard “beware of pickpockets”, particularly on the trains, metro and other crowded public spaces. While standing next to him on a crowded metro, hubby was suddenly surrounded by three young (12-13 year-old) girls, one making eye contact with him, while another went for his bag. As soon as I noticed the little one maintaining steady eye contact, I heard a very stern “What are you doing?” coming from hubby as he grabbed a little hand. The one with her hand in his bag scurried away as quickly as she could, not successful on this day.
Before leaving Paris we all decided that an evening Seine River tour was a must. The company we chose provided a lovely one-hour cruise filled with interesting historical facts. One of the more interesting facts we learned about the Eiffel Tower was that it initially was intended to last only 20 years. Since it now has become the symbol of France it is routinely painted every 7 years, requiring 60 tons of paint and 3 years to complete.
This wrapped up another incredible day in the City of Light.