Friday, February 8, 2013

If I were in Paris... Friday, February 8, 2013

Two of my favorite "heights" in Paris are the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame's belltowers. Both give a great view of the complete city, giving spectators a broad awareness of the city's geography and narrative.

And each one gives a different view of the city in terms of history and location, as well.

Gargoyles!

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, of course, is a Gothic masterpiece found in the earliest part of the city, the Ile de la Cite, one of the two islands in the Seine where the original city was founded/grounded. Built between 1163 and 1267 (yes, over the course of a century), the towers complete the west-facing facade.

A visit to the towers is separate from a visit to the cathedral: prepare to stand in line. Get there early and you'll still stand in line, but the wait will be significantly shorter. It opens at 10 am: get there at least thirty minutes prior (make it 45!). And it costs 7.50 euros. The stairs are narrow and well-used (monks have been running up and down for eight centuries), so beware. It's all foot-power, baby, so have some coffee and a croissant to get you fueled up.


The view is phenomenal. You'll see gargoyles up close (just like "The Hunchback" stuff), and a brilliant, north-towest-to-south sweep of The City. Plus a close-up of the eight bells in the towers.

Winter might seem an odd time to suggest climbing these towers and stand outside, but the last rise of the sun and the crispness of the air? Perfect compliments to this adventure. (Plus smaller crowds.)

Technology.

The Eiffel Tower is one great salute to late nineteenth-century building, architecture and the arrival of the modern age. It has become synonymous not only with Paris but with France itself, the soignee culture of an entire country.

I absolutely love going up in the tower, all the way to the top. Again, the view of the city is amazing. Get to the Tower early--again, lines are long on any reular day, even in winter. You can walk up or take the elevator, on either stage. I recommend walking down.

Again, simply stunning views of the city from the top, in 360 degrees.

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