We have heard a range of good and bad opinions regarding Paris. Some people loved it, some think the Parisians are rude and the city is dirty. So we didn't really know what to expect. We just had to go and experience it for ourselves.
I think Paris is a city that can be experienced in many different ways. It has some of the beauty of Prague, some of the diversity of Berlin, and is just as lively as Vienna. But there are also a lot of people who do everything they can to take advantage of the tourists. So what better way to find out the culture of a city then to go to a market? Since our first full day was on a Saturday, and that's when most of the markets are on, that was one of the first things we did
. The first market we went to, Jess read is one of the biggest in the World. We walked for about half an hour and we only went down one line of the market. However, bigger is not always better, because almost everthing that was being sold at the market was of no interest to Jess and me. The market is a good place to see the diversity in a city, and this market at least showed us that. Since many coastal African countries have French as their second language, there is a large population of Africans in Paris (and the rest of France). But there are also people from all over living in Paris, which makes for a very interesting market experience. We decided to go to one more market since it was on Saturday as well. This one was more of an antique market enclosed in a food market. A little more interesting, and we got some very tasty, very inexpensive peaches and plums. Thoughout the day we could see glimpses of the Eiffel Tower poking out over the other buildings. We tried not to look because we wanted to see the whole thing the first time we saw it. It was hard not to look, so we planned to go see it for the first time that night. We both read online that the Eiffel Tower lights up at dusk, and there is a "sparkle" light show every hour on the hour after that. We tried to get there around 22:00, to see the first light show, but our metro had some problems. When we got out from our metro station, we booked it towards Eiffel's direction. In the reflection of the glass buildings across the street from us we could see flashing lights. We stopped in wonder to see the EIFFEL TOWER! It was sparkling with tons of tiny lights all the way up. I almost forgot I was looking at a reflection and not the real thing. When we finally got around a building to have a clear view, it had stopped sparkling. That was ok, because now we had 55 minutes to take pictures of Eiffel all lit up (without the sparkle) and to find the best place to watch the next sparkle show
. We finally chose a spot a little bit away on top of the walls of Palais de Chaillot. It was spectacular!! I like how the sparkle show only goes on for 5 minutes each hour because it leaves room for anticipation. Throughout the five days we were in Paris, we were at different places in the city when the 22:00 sparkle show went on, but no matter where we were, if people could see Eiffel, they would stop what they are doing and just gaze in wonder.
The architecture itself of Eiffel is also pretty amazing. We came back a couple of days later to have a picnic in front of Eiffel, and I got to have a good look at it. I don't know if it's the structural engineer in me or what, but I think the design is pretty sweet for being made in 1889. It is a lattice structure with each brace made up of hundreds of smaller braces. The four curved legs at the base are massive. I read that wind design was a major concern and so these four foundation legs were overdesigned to resist the strongest of winds. As a result, the top of the tower only sways a max of 6-7cm in the wind. It is one of the most recognizable structures in the World and very cool to see! For our picnic, we found an ideal grassy spot in the shade of a large tree, with Mr. Eiffel right in front of us. Our picnic consisted of sandwiches (made from bagettes), some fruit, two glasses of red wine, and a French pastry for desert. We played cards and enjoyed the sun.
We did way more than just the see the Eiffel tower, so stay tuned for Paris part 2, and I promise I won't go into any more detail about tour de Eiffel.
Awwww Paris, oui oui. The city of love, the city of fashion, the city of lights, and as I have been informed by my four nieces, "THAT'S WHERE BARBIE LIVES!".