Today was our best weather day so we had intentionally planned to do more outdoors sights today.
Of course, we still hadn’t hit on the Eiffel Tower so this was to be our first stop. You can essentially see the Eiffel Tower from most places in Paris. I don’t think its a sight you can ever get tired of looking at. Any time of day or night, any angle/ vista, its still striking.
After fresh croissants from the local patisserie, we headed out towards the Seine. A lovely spring time walk and window shopped all the way down Avenue Montaigne where all the best shops sit. Much better than the Champs Elysee! Towards the end of the road we happen upon the River Seine. Its not as beautiful as we had hoped. A Brown river, running quickly through the city, however, there she stands, the Eiffel Tower! Our first ‘full’ glimpse of the structure! One little girl was very excited! We opted to head towards a bridge further along and we are glad that we did. We happened to come across an informal memorial to Princess Diana marking the tunnel as to where she met her fate all those years ago. For the Brits, i think its akin to the Americans remembering where they were when JFK was shot. We remembered Diana in that moment and explained a little of the story to the kids who had little awareness of her and no awareness of her untimely death. Surprisingly, the tunnel is very short…making the accident even more tragic as she should have only been in there for a moment before emerging form the other end.
After this surprise memorial, we headed onto the bridge to cross the Seine. Not without many photo opportunities!
At the Tower, we queued for probably 60-90 minutes. gain, not a bad length of time considering its probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. I am sure February is classed as an ‘off’ season though and wouldn’t want to battle the crowds mid summer! I suggest you book ahead at peak times.
So tickets in hand (reasonably priced too), we headed straight to the top and worked our way down. The tower affords you 3 levels of views of the city. All breathtaking. Personally, I preferred the 2nd level but all were great.
The ‘piéce de resistance’ for the kids though was the FREE ice skating on level 1. They had such a blast! A small rink but they had so much fun and can now say they skated on the Eiffel Tower 🙂 Other activities on the tower include the glass floor, gift shops and cafe…but also not forgetting the Champagne Bar at the top…should you happen to want a glass! All in all, we mush have spent 2+ hours on the tower so it was great value for money and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!
So coming off the Tower we wanted to grab some lunch so a quick Croque Monsieur at a small Bistro around the back of the tower (affording another great view of the structure!) and off to the Metro to head to Montmartre region and the Sacre Coeur.
I specifically wanted to go back to this area as i had remembered it as a teen when visiting with school. I had remembered its charm and beauty and wanted to experience it with the kids.
So the beauty is definitely still there but you need to fight through traders and the like to get to the charm. We did though and worth it. After walking through streets lined with traders and touristy junk shops, Sacre Couer sits at the top of the Butte…the highest natural point in Paris. The sight of the Sacre Coeur is breathtaking as you approach. Again, I am sure in the peak season, this place is even more crowded so glad we were experiencing it at a ‘quieter’ time. We walked the steps up the approach, stopping for photos along the way.
Towards the top seems to be a bunch of folks that have set up busness there…selling beers and singing/ karaoke. Not impressed with this at all. They block the view and honestly felt so wrong in front of such a beautiful, religious and serene building. Even less impressed the the folks outside as we experienced the contrast of what was happening inside the Sacre Coeur . Inside, we found the most amazing service taking place by a group of nuns. The singing was divine and we quietly slid into a pew to absorb and appreciate. Sadly then needed to leave into a bunch of crazies drinking and singing old pop songs …. ugh!
We explored all around the back the Sacre Coeur and into the famous Montparnasse square filled with artists selling their art and encouraging you to have your portrait done. We had fun wandering through the square and we landed on a characture artist. I thought it would be fun to get the girls drawn – something to hang on the family room wall when we get back to America…..what do you think??
We stopped of for Crepes – many creperies to choose from so take your pick! Everyone was happy! We also picked out some fancy Macaroons for us to enjoy later. Little did we know we would end up leaving these on the Eurostar on our way home 😦 We also came to realise also that this area is one of the few that serves frogs legs. Frogs legs are not as popular anymore in France so more difficult to find. Many of the eateries here advertise they serve them. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t face them after our crepes..!
So the sun was beginning to set on our day and we were fortunate to be able to watch the sun set over Paris from this vantage point. Such a lovely way to close out our day.
After a long day, we headed back towards the 8th arrondisement for food. After some quick research we headed to well reviewed restaurant Le Relais Entrecote. Supposedly one of the best Steak Frite restaurants in Paris. You can’t book a table and queuing in inevitable bit we did it anyway! We probably waited 45 mins for a table? Maybe a bit longer? They have an interesting business model – no menu, only one choice of food (steak frites with side salad 26€) and efficient but abrupt service. The food was good including their secret sauce. Portions when they came out were fairly small. OK we thought, and as we finished realised it was a perfect portion. Until the server came pack with exactly the same amount and loaded up our plates for a second serving! We were a little surprised but they food was so good, we polished the 2nd serving off too! Now over-full, we declined dessert and rolled back to the apartment just a few blocks away! I would recommend trying the restaurant if you like steak and frites and try somewhere popular in Paris. Just be prepared to wait. We left the restaurant at 9:30pm and the line was still just as long! Tripadvisor review here. Bon Appetite!