Alarm goes off at 6:30 and we are wondering what the hell we are doing. We all want to sleep, but we got places to go and people to see. A train ticket to Paris, tickets to the Louvre and the Eiffel tower and dinner with Anais. First we need to get out of the house.
Our train departs at 0745. It is a fifteen minute walk to the station but we are tired and dragging and we don’t get out the door until 0730. It will be a quick walk and as we get closer to the station, we think, briefly, about breaking into a run. But no issues–we make it to the train, hop aboard and are whisked quick to Paris were we get out at 0830.
Which is when a two month old mistake becomes evident, technology fails us and we have to go ‘old school’ to make our way around the city.
My first mistake was making our Louvre reservation time at 0900. To be clear, I did NOT make a mistake getting a reserved ticket with a time, which we had for both the Lovre and for the Eiffel tower. Matter of fact, if I DIDN’T get the timed tickets, we probably wouldn’t have seen either of those. The ticket lines for both (if you didn’t buy in advance) was CRAZY long. And that doesn’t count the security line which was not picnic either. I don’t know how people di it, especially at the tower where the line was outside in the sun.
Nope. My mistake was getting a 9am ticket when our train arrived at 0830. Sitting in Maryland two months ago and looking at google maps, this seemed like it was doable, but there was no buffer for error. Which means, of course, that we had an error. Our plan was to walk out the station and get an Uber. Jan had the phone with the data plan, she walked out of the train station, fired up Uber and the app hung. Didn’t load the map or the cars. We have bars, but we have no data. We look at her phone, scratch our heads, turn it off, turn it on, walk in circles, but no data love. Our first thought is we catch a cab; old school Uber. We head to the line which is very long and then sit for five minutes not moving. This isn’t going to work. It is now 8:50am, our entry time to the Louvre is in 10 minutes and we haven’t left the train station. Now is when we go old school–we will use maps. Those things that don’t require data.
We head down to the metro, I get into line for tickets, secure a pack of ten and then we look at the handy map on the wall. It is like seven stops down a line that is right in front of us so we hurry into the bowels of the metro with about 10,000 other Parisians and tourists….it is prime rush hour. The first train pulls in and it is PACKED to the gills with people. A few get off, more get on, including Jan, but the door starts to close with AJ and I still standing on the platform. Realizing that we are doomed if we are separated, I pick up AJ and PUSH him into the mass of people, using him as a combination shield/battering ram, than follow him onto the car. The door starts to close on my a$$ which would mean it would open again, but some commuters grudgingly give way and both AJ and I fit on the car. Five or six #metoo moments later a bunch of people get off and we can spread out a bit and we arrive at the Louvre.
We wind throughs the maze to get to an entrance and I talk to one of the helpful people who directs us someplace else. We need to go up and outside. It is now 0930 and our tickets say 0900 but I figure we are here, we can’t be the first to be late for our show time and head to the main (and short) line. The dude looks at our ticket and gives us a board wave through. We are IN! Security to scan bags, another line to take tickets and we are in the museum. I’m in heaven! Jan and AJ? Not so much. Tolerant and tempered is their reaction.
We wander past paintings and sculptures nodding approvingly at each. Offering criticisms where warranted. Looking like we are ‘in the know’ when it comes to art. We find the Mona Lisa which looks a lot like the famous painting of Mona Lisa, except it is surrounded by a couple of hundred people all taking selfies of themselves in a crowd behind which may or may not be the Mona Lisa. We find a couple of paintings we like, one of which was 15 bubbas on a raft that are all that are left out 150 people that started on the raft when their ship sank. Twelve days later they were picked up and the painting is of them waiving at the ship on the horizon. Apparently there may or may not have been some cannibalism. We saw Venus (one name only), she looked smooth. And a centaur. Bunch of nekkid dudes and dudettes. It was awesome. For about an hour which is when Jan and AJ starting rolling their eyes and making the ‘let’s get out of here’ grunts. I managed to hold for another hour, then we headed out.
We strode boldly back into the sunlight and along the river to the Eiffel Tower. Navigation was easy–look up and see tower and head that way. Find the river and walk along until you get to the tower! Who the hell needs a smart phone. We do, eventually and we finally got a message from our cell phone provider that told us our two-week data plan expired and we needed a top up, but we don’t need any stinking data. We have tickets for 1pm at the Eiffel tower and roll that way arriving at security at 1230.
Which is weird. When Jan and I were here 15 years ago there was no ‘security’ at the Eiffel tower, but the bombings in 2015 have changed all that. When we were here, you walked up and underneath the tower with no need for bag scanning. You can still walk under the tower without a ticket to go into the tower but you have to go through one of two security lines. And if you DON’T have a ticket, they are not short. The base of the tower is surrounded by gates or plexiglass. We get through security pretty quickly and at 1pm are in the queue for the tower; we are up at the top by 1:20pm. We spend the next hour at the three different floors of the tower, looking over the city and eating a very expensive lunch.
Back off the tower, onto the metro and we ride to the Arch de Triumph. Plan is to go to the top, but when we get there we discover it is closed until 4pm. The reason? Apparently practice for the planes/helicopters that are participating in Bastille day celebrations on Sunday. We decide to find a table at a cafe and sit and watch the impromptu air show overhead as well as gaze at the people/cars on the Champs.
At 4:15ish we head to the Arch, it is open, wait in a line (see a pattern) and then walk up a bunch of stairs to the top for a great view of the city as well as a great view of the worst traffic circle in the world just below us. Then down to the ground, back to the metro and off to meet Anais.
Anais was number 5 of 7 Au Pairs and lives in Paris. She made a reservation at a restaurant close to Gare L’Est where we have to be at 9pm to catch our train back to Reims. We meet at 6:30, dinner at 7 and spend a lovely evening catching with her on her life in the past four years since she left our place. Dinner complete, we drag our very tired legs (26,000 steps!) to the train station and back to Reims. We want to sleep forever but we have to get up; our champagne tour starts at 0915.