Sunday, July 27, 2014

Le Tour de France: Paris Day 5

Monday, July 7
The was shining when we woke up, hooray! I sat on the balcony and lingered over breakfast while Dan packed a picnic. Today was the Behind-the-Scenes Eiffel Tower tour, which I had reserved online at the end of April. 

Breakfast on the balcony

We picked up bikes and rode to Le Bon Marché to see the foodstuffs at La Grande Épicerie. It is a large and fancy food emporium, but I was expecting a more impressive display of chocolates and bonbons. Dan got a few jars of Fallot mustard (oddly the best price we had seen on the trip), and I got a Miella, a honey almond cookie/pastry. I was perusing the candy while Dan waited to checkout. When I joined him, he had decided to use the self-checkout machine, but I thought our non chip-and-pin credit card would not work. And he didn't select English from the menu. I was making a scene (I'm not proud), thankfully a nice Canadian lady intervened and translated the prompts on the screen. But the card couldn't be read, eventually an employee appeared and made it work. I was very cranky at Dan, although it all worked out and really wasn't a big deal. From there, we biked to the Eiffel Tower and went to the meeting spot for the tour, in front of the bust of Eiffel under the North Pillar. Several other tours were meeting there, but none were ours. I was kind of freaking out as I tried to find someone to ask, when I looked at the voucher and realized the tour started at 12:30 pm. I thought it was noon. Oops. Haha. So we sat on the grass by the North Pillar and ate the Miella.

Dan and I both enjoyed the tour very much. Our guide Thomas was informative and also quite humorous. [I told him we had toured the Palais Garnier, and he said he refuses to do that tour. Of all the Cultival tour guides, he is the only one who refuses. His tip for visiting opera houses is to get a standing room performance ticket.] It was interesting learning about Gustave Eiffel, and the history and evolution of the tower. We started in the bunker, where the food for Le Jules Verne is prepared! We saw the different colors of the tower over the years (red! pink!) and old photos of wireless telegraphy and the first radio transmission. Next, we went in the elevator room, where Thomas explained how the old elevator worked. Then we rode the (modern) elevator to the second floor, and he pointed out various landmarks in Paris. We also went to a filming platform, and peeked through the glass roof of Le Jules Verne.

Champ de Mars

View from Eiffel Tower

From the Eiffel Tower

Trocadero

After the tour ended on the second floor, we could have bought tickets to the top, but the wait was an hour, which was too long for me. Maybe next time. We walked down to the first floor, ate our Kouignettes from Georges Larnicol, took more photos, also stepped lightly on the new glass floor. [Thomas said the construction on the first floor was supposed to be done two years ago...and maybe it will be complete in two more years.]

Sacré-Cœur

Ominous

Glass floor
 
Help

Trocadero

We took the elevator down from the first floor, and as we walked toward the Champs de Mars, saw an unattended giant horse on a grassy plot. Strange. Did the horse escape?

Giant workhorse

We had a late lunch picnic on the Champ de Mars, watching children go on pony rides (and a French burro), people taking selfies and leaping photos, and ignoring the petition girls. Also saw a couple having wedding photos taken. We wondered if they lived in Paris or were visiting from elsewhere.

Picnic time

Wedding photo shoot

I had read that the vault at Société Générale could be viewed, so we biked toward les grand magasins, but it was too late by the time we arrived. We went up to the rooftop terrace at Printemps, lovely views! The exterior of the store is pretty too. Some of the gold decorations were having work done.

Printemps

Printemps rooftop terrace

View view view!

Sacré-Cœur

Restoration

Then we looked at the white porcelain tableware at La Vasallaerie, where I bought a glass citrus juicer. [I got a wood lemon reamer at E.Dehillerin on our last trip, so maybe juicing tools will be a Paris tradition.] We also went into Galeries Lafayette, which has a gorgeous dome and another rooftop terrace with beautiful views. [Also the restrooms are free and very nice. Printemps charges for restrooms.]

Galeries Lafayette

Dome

View of Palais Garnier

Eiffel Tower

We observed that Printemps has Ladurée macarons, and Galeries Lafayette has Pierre Hermé. Dan thought the shop would have more selection, so we walked down Avenue de l'Opéra and got some macarons and chocolates at Pierre Hermé. It was raining so we took the Metro back to the apartment (also bought RER tickets for CDG at Saint-Michel). I made a fennel, radish, and avocado salad, and used my new lemon juicer for the dressing (worked very nicely). Salad and leftovers for dinner. And cheese.

Dinner

We listened to a few chapters of David Sedaris reading from Me Talk Pretty One Day while we cleaned up. Then macarons for dessert. Our time in Paris was going by too quickly!

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