A day off in Paris? What’s that about then ?
Ami and I were spending a week or so exploring the countryside to the north of Paris searching for bits of tupperware, however it was Ami’s first time near Paris, so we had to take at least one day out to go to the city and do some touristy stuff.
This was that day.
We began fairly early in the morning with a substantial breakfast at our hotel before dashing down to Pontoise Station to catch an RER C into the big city. We managed to get tickets that allowed unlimited travel on RER trains and metros, which is good. It took so long to buy them meant that we missed a train by 2 mins. So we had to wait a further 28 minutes for the next one. After all, it was Good Friday. There weren’t so many trains.
Up the Tower
Our first stop was the Champ de Mars station, which RER C goes directly into, so we could attempt to get up the Eiffel Tower. I say “attempt” because their website sold out of tickets for both levels of lift several months in advance. We were gambling with availability of the “on the day” tickets. Everyone had to queue up for a security check before being let underneath the tower itself for the ticket offices. We decided to go for the tickets that force you to walk up to the second level and then queue for the lift up to the top. The decision was based mainly on the length of the respective queues.
So all in all it took us about an hour to get to the point where we were actually walked up the tower. We decided to go up to the second level as soon as possible and queue for the lifts to the very top. When we got there, we found a remarkably short queue for the top level lifts.
The view from the top is quite impressive. The tower is considerably taller than any other structure in Paris, and the view is quite spectacular. It was a little chilly though, as it was quite windy at the top. While we were up there we found the office containing the waxwork model of Gustav Eiffel so that we could claim a virtual geocache ( At the top of the Eiffel tower ).
The lift down was quite uninspiring. From the second level we attempted to count the steps down to ground floor. After about 400 or so Ami and I managed to get out of step so I gave up counting. Ami counted a shade over 700 steps.
Walking Around a Bit
By this time it was nearly midday, so we availed ourselves of some fizzy drinks and unhealthy snacks under the tower and went over to the riverside to eat them. From here we crossed the bridge into the Trocadéro, where we found a couple of cunningly hidden geocaches as well as another virtual ( VIRTUAL REWARD 2017-2018 : TOUR EIFFEL ). This one requires you to pretend to be taller than the tower, and therefore involves the photography sitting on the floor to get the right angle.
We hadn’t really planned much for the day other than “walking around a bit” and I had it in my mind we might be able to walk all the way along the Seine to Notre Dame, so with this in mind we set off walking upstream towards the Pont de l’Alma, the site of another virtual cache ( Liberty’s Flame ). At this one it’s necessary that you post a photo of yourself with the flame. It also requested that you give yourself a moment of quiet contemplation. It’s at the location where (in the tunnel beneath) Diana, Princess of Wales was involved in the car crash that resulted in her death. The monument called Liberty’s Flame was not originally built in her memory, but has become a bit of an unofficial memorial to her.
From here we crossed the river and walked along to Les Invalides, where I’d solved a couple of wherigo caches. We didn’t bother with going inside though. It’s a big site and neither of us is really a museum kind of a person.
The distance around to Notre Dame looked a bit much for walking all the way, so we decided we’d get a bit more value out of our all day metro tickets rather than walking the 3km between there and where we were.
We appeared out of the Cluny_–_La_Sorbonne_(Paris_Métro)Cluny – La Sorbonne Metro Station and headed north towards the river. Before crossing we thought we’d earned ourselves a short break. We sat for 20 minutes in a totally stereotypical streetside cafe. We got ourselves fleeced for the value of a coffee, a sprite and a piece of Apple Tart. They were nice though, and we needed a rest for a bit.
If we thought the queues and the security checks at the Eiffel Tower were long, those at Notre Dame were a whole new world of pain. We were really, really glad that we weren’t bothered about going inside. We’d have been there for hours. All we in fact wanted to do was to get a photograph of our own feet for another virtual geocache. There’s a metal disc in the floor which marks the point from which all distances to Paris are officially measured.
Georges Pompidou and Les Halles
From here we made our way further north in the general direction of the Pompidou Centre and then on to the Forum Les Halles. This had been changed somewhat (OK, “completely”) since my previous visit. They added a massive new canopy roof over the top. Most of the insides seem to have been reworked too, and the character of the shops had completely changed. In the late 1980’s early 1990’s, when I previously visited, it was a series of little boutiques. It can now be described as being pretty much like any other shopping centre in Europe apart from being underground, and in Paris. It did have quite a cunning geocache for us to find though.
The next stop on our whirlwind tour was to be the Louvre museum, so we could peer at the big glass pyramid. Obviously, once again, we had neither the time nor the energy to actually go inside. It was also “heaving”. On the way there we got rained on, but it was quite a short shower, and when it finished we were greeted with a bright blue and near cloudless sky for the first time since we arrived in France. This made for a very pretty couple of photos of the wet cobbles with the sun reflecting off them.
Just along from here there were another couple of virtual geocaches ( VIRTUAL REWARD 2017-2018 : LE LOUVRE and Who is She? (Paris) ), which took our tally of virtuals for the day up to 6. The one at the Louvre requires you to stand in such a position that you can see all the way along the straight line from the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, across the Place de la Concorde, through the Arc de Triomphe and on (eventually) to the Grande Arche de la Défense.
We’d sort of planned to walk through the Tuilleries and then along the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe, taking in some dinner on the way, before heading home. We were both getting quite tired and our feet were aching, but neither of us was hungry.
Home we go
As we were walking along the last bit of Champs-Élysées we decided we’d rather go and look for pizza a little closer to home rather than stay out in Paris. So we continued our slow hobble up to the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station and grabbed an RER A train. This was much quicker than the RER C we’d taken in the morning, but dropped us off at the somewhat less than glamorous Cergy Préfecture station. Nothing especially wrong with it, I suppose. It’s just that it’s in the middle of a concrete monstrosity of high-rise housing.
Nearby was a little pizza place that we decided we go to for dinner. Aside from the lack of alcoholic beverages it was fine.
The walk back to the hotel was somewhat less than fine. The concrete high-rises were a bit of an urban jungle and both of us felt distinctly uncomfortable walking through them. When we did emerge onto a road it was one which couldn’t make it’s mind up whether to have footpaths. We blindly followed google maps and made a couple of probably quite dangerous jumps over concrete barriers to get to where we needed to be, and eventually we made it back to the hotel none the worse, albeit rather tired. We’d been out of the hotel for 13 hours, so all we wanted to do was to get some sleep.
As we drove back out past this road in the morning we saw where the footpaths actually went………
Anyway, over the course of the day, the geocaches we completed were :