Day 3 (September 6, 2007)   Eiffel tower, Montmartre and Versailles


  Tight agenda for this last day. The morning would be spent on visiting Eiffel Tower and then moving to Montmartre in order of see Sacre Coeur Basilica, then we would walk down from the mount until reaching the famous Moulin Rouge. After lunching, we would take a train to Versailles to visit the palace.

   Back in Paris, at night, we would do a cruise along Senna River as final apotheosis.

Paris map

   The spots marked at map for visits on this day are:

0- Hotel Eiffel Cambronne
4- Eiffel Tower
11- Sacre Coeur
12- Moulin Rouge
13- Opera


   On despite of yesterday’s tiredness, we do for going out early as we need the time at afternoon for visiting Versailles. We take breakfast in a bar very close to the metro station where we get, as every morning, two Mobilis cards but, this time, for 4 zones, as we need to reach Versailles: 9€ each.

   So at 11h we’re going out from Trocadero metro station and we can see the walls of some palace. Just need to walk a few meters for the walls to open to access to a big courtyard dominated by the eternal vigilance of Eiffel Tower. It’s not a beautiful day today, but views are still there and the tower appears, magnificent, in front of us, as if it was trying to rip the cloudy layer to let some rays of light passing through. The first picture we get here is the one we use as header for these web pages.

   The monument is looking with a big rugby oval ball in the center celebrating the Rugby world cup, which is going to be played in this city, starting tomorrow, just the day we leave. This part is limited at sides by Chaillot Palace’s walls and its statues with this brighter golden things use to have in this city, and in front, with a stone veranda high as people’s chest, becoming all this area in a huge balcony to Eiffel Tower .

Eiffel Tower from TrocaderoPalais du Chaillot

   Once we’ve got the pictures we wanted we go downstairs and go along the little park by one of its sides full of trees for crossing the bridge. But before we find one of these traditional carousels with that vintage looking.

   At the other riverside the leading is entirely for the huge mass of iron with that rusty red color which has inspired this entire Paris travel chronicle look. In a closer look, the first floor – which is the one we’re going to go to – looks very high. There are some peculiar elevators on each one of the four legs of the tower, which go up in diagonal, although one of them is exclusively used by restaurant customers. The restaurants in the tower are expensive, but the one at first floor is the “cheaper”.

CarouselEiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower from ground

Elevator in Eiffel Tower's legs

     We purchase a couple of tickets to the stairs to first floor, which are the cheaper ones (4€) and follow our way up the steps of this stairs rounding all four sides of the square shape of the leg, around the hole in the middle for the red elevator. You can enjoy this path if stopping every short while to watch the views, from higher every time, to the four cardinal points of the city.

   But it is at the end of the stairs, where the first floor is designed as for having 360º views, with information about what you’re seeing – or you can see -from every side. For example, picture at left is showing Trocadero part, which is the point we are coming from; at right, the Champs de Mars, big gardens between Eiffel Tower and the Military School appearing on our first photo in this city .

Trocadero from Eiffel TowerChamp`s du Mars from Eiffel Tower

   I ask in the restaurant for the chances of having a dinner tonight in there a little afraid of the prices, which I shouldn’t. Not because of the prices but because there is no vacancy on the restaurant for weeks. That’s the reason I was looked by the hostess as if I was crazy – which is not confirmed yet -.
Under Eiffel Tower view
   Restaurant’s name is 58, meaning the number of meters it is. When we’re done for the four sides of this floor, close to the huge inflatable rugby ball, we decide to go back down. The visit has taken 40 minutes, which first 10 were spent on coming up the same stairs we’re going to use for returning to the ground.

   We take the metro at Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel station and go out from Abesses station after changing line on “Musée d’Orsay”. We’ve spent 45 minutes in the way, so it’s 13h now and we can feel the pressure of time. Because of this, of using the cheaper walking option on Eiffel Tower and because it is free with Mobilis card, we use funicular of Montmartre to go to the top of the mount… martre?.

Funicular of MontmartreSacre Coeur Basilica

   Before taking funicular we can already see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, but now, in a closer look, it is even more beautiful, with its egg-shaped domes which seem to belong to another continent. The white stone it is made with looks spectacular and makes the green statues to stand out. The staircase is full of people seated on and resting and we look for our way between them to reach the door to go in.

   Inside, the white is still the main color, but for the impressive golden mosaic of Christ in the apse. It’s a pity photos are not allowed here
Staircase in Montmartre
Sacre Coeur Basilica

   In 30 minutes our visit is over and we take the stairs down slowly, for being able of enjoying the views, and later on, the neighborhood, with the painters, and we go into a souvenir store and purchase a model of Notre Dame and Arc du Triomphe because it is the cheapest place for them. As the store is sited just on the top of the staircase on the picture at right, we use them to go down and reach the place with the carousel and fountains which I can clearly recall from “Amelie” movie. It’s 13:45h and the plan now is passing by Moulin Rouge before looking for a place to lunch. It seems we’re on time for it.

Moulin Rouge   We don’t get lost in our way down to Boulevard de Clichy. Since we went out from metro station last time it was obvious we are in a different kind of Paris area than the ones with all the visits before, a lot less clean one. But this boulevard, also, is the street existing on a lot of cities with night clubs and prostitutes. I knew Moulin Rouge show is based on topless dancers, but I didn’t know it was the softest show in its street.

   So, after passing by several clubs we reach the famous Moulin Rouge. It’s a visit offering just the icon of the small red windmill on the roof and a big entrance full of pictures of cabaret stars and choral dancers with so much feather and so less clothes. It’s 14h, lunch time.
La Trinité
   As we still don’t know where to do it, we get our steps out of the bizarre atmosphere of the boulevard to the Rue Blanche until reaching Lafayette shopping mall, in front of the Opera. In our way down here we’ve been able of checking small stores and La Trinité, which is a beautiful church. But just before going into Lafayette, we go into another department store: Primptemps. At its top floor there is a fantastic restaurant where we lunch under a beautiful dome of glass. It’s 14:30h.

   We eat a steak tartar and a big plate of spaghetti, coke and wine, by 52€. One main dish is the normal here.
   It’s 15h when we go into Lafayette mall. I’m advising to my wife they’re too luxury for us so she shouldn’t expect buying something. The building is magnificent from inside and clothes prices seem to show a desire of recoup the cost of the construction.

   The Opera house is right there, but Eva keeps looking to a shoe shop window, which is quite usual. Somehow, she wants to go in and I go too to look after making the visit short, which is quite unusual.

   I don’t manage it and we spent more than one hour inside with a man thinking it is the longest sale he ever had. The point is the damn shoe shop – avoiding speaking ill of my wife - has broken our agenda and now we’re in a rush for taking the train to Versailles.

   We see Opera closer and then go to La Madeleine, which look as ancient Greek temple surprises me, before going down to metro station. It’s 17:15h and it really seems crazy going to Versailles so late, but as everything is paid, we’re going to see what we meet at this time. Paris Museum card guide tells the Palace closes at 18h .

Opera GarnierMadeleine

   At least, Madeleine metro station is just two stops from change to RER going to Versailles in “Invalides” station.

   And we arrive around 18:15h. There are two train stations in Versailles town, but I’d already checked we should get “Versailles – Rive Gauche” for going to the palace. I try to get my bearings and go to Sceaux avenue which takes us directly to the palace complex.

   While reaching the railings doors we can see we’re walking on the opposite direction then everyone else. They’re going out from the place. It’s spitting now too. But we’re already here, so we go in. Nobody asks us for tickets and we can check we’re not going to be able of doing interior visit, so we walk along the gardens, getting a bit wet.

   On despite of all these bad points, we must say it is really spectacular. What it will be inside! Gardens are vast area of well cared vegetation between fountains and statues. We can see Grand Canal which, in the times of the use of this palace, with king Louis any-number living in it, was used for the party guests could arrive by boat. Everything is amazing, which makes I never regretted this much to be late somewhere and never damned this much a shoe store.

Palace of Versailles
Gardens of VersaillesGrand Canal in Gardens of Versailles

   We leave the area a few minutes past 19h for coming back to Paris with this feeling we’ve missed something good although we’ve liked what we’ve been able to see of the Versailles palace – or, actually, because of that -. We go directly to hotel, but we will go out tonight for a while to do that cruise in Senna by night.

   A few minutes to 22h we’re going out from Champs de Mars – Tour Eiffel metro station and the tower welcome us with a different look than the one it has this morning due to its colored lights. We walk along the jetty there looking the offers for cruises and we choose “Bateaux Parisiens” by 10€ per person. While waiting to leave seated in front of the boat, with views at right and front, I’m thinking we haven’t used Museum Pass card today in any place, so we’ve used it wrong in this travel because on Tuesday it had been saved 15 € to each of us.

   We enjoy the sail, taking us under the most beautiful bridges of Paris, including the one sadly famous because of the car accident where Lady Di died. The riversides show buildings we’ve already visited with their look at night, with plenty of light over them. Every seat has an audio guide which tells stories and history anecdotes continuously. Among them, one tells how a Nazi major disobeyed Hitler when he ordered blowing all the bridges up when Paris was going to be taken by allies. Thank goodness !

Cruise on Senna by nightCruise on Senna by night

   The Eiffel Tower with its colors and its head as a lighthouse is showing the end of this round trip. It’s a fantastic end to this travel to this fantastic city.

   When going upstairs, in our way to the metro station which will take us to the bed, Eiffel Tower offers a farewell to us with sparkling lights .

Eiffel Tower by nightEiffel Tower by night