Bezu Fache was only half right. There is a scar on the face of Paris, but it isn't the glass pyramid of The Louvre as he smugly declared to Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code. No, this scar is far more noticeable, considering it is perhaps the most recognizable structure in the world. Yes, I'm talking about the Eiffel Tower.
|Seemed like a good place for a nap.|
When MJ and I arrived in Paris for the first time, we did what probably most do in the same situation. We dropped our bags at the hotel, grabbed a map of the city, and hopped on the Metro to Trocadero station. It was a beautifully clear day, and I can still feel the anticipation as we walked up the steps of the station and rounded the corner to behold the tower for the first time.
Wow...It's kind of ugly.
|The tower and the Alexander Bridge|
MJ was right, but then again, she usually is. Part of me didn't want to admit it right away, this was the Eiffel Tower after all, but looking at it set against the backdrop of the rest of Paris, it seemed completely out of place. Of course, that didn't stop us from taking the obligatory wacky photos with this equally wacky landmark.
Later that night we returned to the tower feeling a little guilty for skipping the elevator ride to the top earlier in the day. There's just some things you must do your first time in Paris, and taking in the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is definitely one of them. By some stroke of luck, the ridiculously long line was now gone, and we practically walked right onto this thing they supposedly called an "elevator."
|The tower as seen from Notre Dame|
While waiting in line on the 2nd floor for the next leg of the ride, we caught a glimpse of Altitude 95 restaurant and thought we'd test our luck again by seeing if they had a table available. Soon, we found ourselves at a table for two overlooking the City of Lights. The meal was nothing to write home about, but it was hard to believe we were having an unplanned dinner at the Eiffel Tower on our first night in Paris.
|Looking down on the Arc de Triomphe|
After dinner we boarded the "elevator" for the ride to the observation deck. The lights of Paris seemed to go on forever, and that sense of wonder which we had before we ever laid eyes on the tower seemed to return. We braved the biting cold and heavy crowds and soaked in this moment that almost never happened.
|The dome of the Invalides|
With our feet back on the ground, we climbed the steps back toward Trocodero Station and paused at the top to take in the tower glowing in the night. Perhaps we had misjudged the Eiffel Tower. After all, who were we to declare this icon, this symbol of Paris, to be ugly and out of place. It seemed the tower had won us over, but the moment was fleeting. Just then, it started to twinkle like Clark Griswold's Christmas lights.
We had it right the first time.
I know there are many that will disagree, but the Eiffel Tower is about as close to beautiful as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. How this looming hunk of metal came to symbolize Paris, of all places, is beyond me. Perhaps even more puzzling is how a city so artistically forward - the center of the Renaissance, mind you - allowed this tacky monstrosity to be built in the first place.
There's a scar on the face of Paris alright, and you can blame Gustave Eiffel.
Enjoy Your Stay