One of the reasons we went to Paris is that Eli said he wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. I was hesitant to take him there because I wasn't sure of the expectations he had about Paris, but I needn't have worried. He was thrilled with every aspect of his trip. We noticed that the crowd under the Eiffel tower was unbelievable and the lines were even more unbelievable. I was game to go to the top, but Eli wouldn't have any part of it. I never knew he was afraid of heights, but he did the same thing when I mentioned the Ferris Wheel.
The Tour de France had just ended and that explained the unusually long crowds. Also, it is summer and normally Europe sees large numbers of tourists in July and August. Hence, the presence of the military. The Eiffel Tower is a national treasure and one of Paris' icons. Protecting it would be necessary during these times. Here is what it looked like when we arrived.
Notice how the crowd is thickest under the tower. Here is what we saw when we went by later:
We have no idea why it was cleared, but we saw soldiers holding back the crowds. With terrorism rampant throughout the world, I'm sure that they take extra precautions to protect the large crowds of tourists that visit each year.
From the Eiffel Tower we traveled on to the Louvre. It was my intention to take Eli into the museum to see the paintings and in particular, the Mona Lisa. We took the Double-Decker hop on/hop off bus to see the city and by the time it arrived at the Louvre, it was closed. The following day, Tuesday, it was closed. So, we spent our time touring the grounds and we went inside the Louvre through the pyramid and looked at the exhibit halls and saw the museum shop. Then, we were kindly escorted out of the museum.
From the Louvre we visited Notre Dame Cathedral. I asked Eli if he wanted to hop off the bus and see the inside of the cathedral. This did not seem to capture his imagination. What should I expect from an 11 year-old? The highlight of our trip so far, for Eli, was the amount of graffiti (he filled his camera with photos of graffiti to impress his friends), Nutella (about which he proclaimed, "Where has this been all of my life?"), and the homeless individuals (especially the one without arms). Kids...
Eli on a bridge over the Seine.
Sweet, sweet, Eli.
Fountains at the Place de le Concorde (Place of Harmony) at the north end of the Champs Elysee.
The Arc de Triomphe which the day before was the scene of the Tour de France.
The Place de Concorde was where the government erected the guillotine and executed King Louis XVI, on January 21, 1793. Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Elisabeth of France, Charlotte Corday, Madame du Barry, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Antoine Lavosier, Maximilien Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just and Olympe de Gouge. It was most active during the "Reign of Terror," in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed. Of course, I didn't tell Eli that!!