Unlike the first visit, Tuesday was quite cold and windy. Remember that we arrived on September 14 in what was late summer, and now on October 13 we were definitely in fall mode, and some days — like this one — were even hinting of the winter ahead. So it was pretty windy that day, which made things pretty unpleasant. And when we got up to the third level, some hundreds of feet up, the winds were definitely whipping around quite wildly.
It was also a cloudy and somewhat rainy day, so the air wasn’t terribly clear. When you’re up on Tour Eiffel, you want blue, sunny skies and clear air and it was quite obvious that wasn’t going to be happening on this day. Mary Ann found her way to an inside area where there’s a souvenir shop and a snack bar and she waited there for me to get my photographic fill of things before we finally declared it a loss and found our way down.
It wasn’t windy enough to blow anybody overboard, but definitely enough to persuade one not to extend the visit. Add to that, the incessant crowds of tourists with their selfie sticks and all jockeying for good views, it just wasn’t pleasant. So I got a few shots, (none of which I’ll subject you to here) and caught the very next ride down that we could. Fortunately, the evening visit on Sept 28, crowded though it was, was much more pleasant.
One thing that you’re struck by with Tour Eiffel is its combination of immensity and gracefulness. Even as a huge iron structure, it has graceful lines and beautiful details. As I said in my first thoughts on Eiffel, it’s a marvelous fusion of engineering and design.
Eiffel Tower Tips
- Consider taking the stairs. We didn’t, but many sites advise it. They only go to the second level and from what I read, they’re easy grades and great views.
- Consider going at night. Great views of the City of Light at night. Some people try to time it to go at sunset. I couldn’t find anything on the Internet about a ‘best’ (least attended) day, but logic would say to avoid weekends and maybe consider the middle of the week (Tues, Weds, Thurs).
- Don’t feel you need to go to the top. It’s human nature, I guess, but once you’re up there, people are cheek and jowl with each other.
- Consider buying tickets ahead of time. You get into a ‘reserved’ line and the one-hour-plus waits to get tickets are eliminated. People with reservations are let in every half-hour and there’s only a limited number of reservations. Just know that reservations can only be had two months ahead of time, and you need to be on the Tour Eiffel Web site at 8:30 am Paris time to get the few tickets available. Study the click sequence ahead of time. Just a few seconds lost could lose you a chance!
- Once is definitely enough. We hope to return to France, and probably to Paris, but attractions like the Eiffel Tower are worth going once.
Memorable Souffles at La Fermette Marbeuf.
If you really want a top-notch dining experience in Paris, you need to be prepared to pay some hundreds of euros (wine not included) per person. We might have considered that, but hadn’t sought out recommendations from friends who were here before us, and didn’t want to pay a lot for something not up to our expectations. Also there was the matter of attire. You’re expected to dress appropriately for the high end places, and neither of us brought those kind of clothes.
At most other “nice” restaurants, you can get away with jeans and walking shoes is you wear something nice on top. Men don’t need to wear ties, but a dress shirt and a jacket are strongly encouraged. That’s the route I took and felt just fine with it. Other American business people were there just in shirts and they did look a bit odd in this kind of place (though they seemed oblivious that their French hosts were indeed wearing jackets)
But we did want to celebrate the time here, and there are some good restaurants that are more on the affordable side. Some checking turned up this little gem not too far from us, La Fermette Marbeuf. The decor (as you can see from the Web site) was splendid. Service was awesome and very attentive. A good friend warned against having too high expectations about much of the restaurant food in Paris (excepting the top-rated Zagat places), and he was right. Our food was good but not memorable. What was memorable, however, made the whole meal worth it.
Featured on the dessert menu was what they describe as “The incredible “Fermette” soufflé with Grand Marnier”. Just the picture made us want to be sure to have room left for this, and we weren’t disappointed! It was one of the most divine desserts I’ve ever had, or probably will ever have! It was beyond description. Egg whites with sugar and a lightly toasted crust. We had to order it when we put in our dinner choice so they could prepare it while we were eating the rest of our meal.
Maybe Mary Ann will add her thoughts as a comment on this post. Just know that it made the trip out on a cold night well worth the effort.
(Note: Only after I looked at the map to the restaurant on Google Maps did I realize how close we were living in proximity to
the one and only Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, where Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo brought Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) to life in a 1913 premiere performance that was so shocking that it prompted riots in the audience. And in so doing, it announced beyond any doubt the arrival of twentieth century music! I’m so sorry I missed checking this place out for a concert. It would have been wonderful even to sit in this hall and imagine Diaghilev, the impresario, Nijinsky the choreographer, Stravinsky the composer and Monteux the conductor all on the verge of entering the history books! We won’t miss this the next time we visit.)
BONUS: I’m indebted to my brother for making me aware of a complete YouTube performance of Le Sacre du Printemps with the reconstructed choreography of Nijinsky as performed by the Joffrey Ballet. It’s in three segments. Take some time to watch at least one. You may find yourself sticking around for it all. It’s pretty remarkable stuff: CLICK HERE.
BONUS PICTURES FROM RAINY & WINDY EIFFEL