A false fire alarm woke us earlier than we would have liked to, but we felt there was no point going back to sleep and instead went for a lazy brunch at the bistro next door to the hotel, where we enjoyed a classic Croque Madame. We got some seats outside on the sidewalk but as soon as we sat down raindrops started to fall.
We had originally planned to walk all the way to the Eiffel tower but decided to opt for a journey on the metro instead. Jerome was happier as he loves to experience all forms of transport.
We got off at Trocadero and walked the steps down to the Eiffel tower with a few other tourists who like us braved the rainy weather to visit this famous icon of Paris. This is perhaps the best place way to reach the Tower as you get great views across the river to it as you go down, plus the neo-Classic architecture of the palaces at the Trocadero is worth viewing too.
The tower is simply breath taking. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel and built for the World Exhibition of 1889. It is funny to think how criticised it was at that time and what a success it has become since then. You cannot even think of Paris without picturing the Tour Eiffel in your mind. Be careful of all the hawkers and tourist scammers as you approach the Eiffel tower, they can be quite obnoxious and watch all your bags and backpacks. If you want to go up I would advise to go as early in the day as possible. To admire it from a distance, it is most beautiful at night when the Eiffel tower is lit up with thousands of lights.
The rain did have a positive effect for us though, the queues to get onto the lifts can be horrendous at times and you might be waiting for hours. Not much fun, especially if you have children with you. I would recommend booking tickets in advance online which allows you to jump the queues somewhat.
There are different tickets to choose from – stairs or lift access to the 2nd floor (115 meters) or lift access to the top (276 meters). If you are going to the very top, you will have to change lifts on the second floor and wait in the long line. We opted just for level 2.
Jerome desperately wanted to go up in the lift to the second level of the Eiffel tower.
There he ran and grabbed one of the coin-operated binoculars while we walked around the platform to take pictures and look at Paris from the top.
The rain had ceased and the sky brightened up while we enjoyed the views all the way over to Sacre Coeur, down the Seine, across the Trocadero and over Le Champs des Mars. It was also astounding to see the wrought iron detail of the Eiffel tower close up and it is hard to imagine that the tower needs to be painted every seven years otherwise the iron construction might be damaged by rust.
We decided to take the stairs down, you need a head for heights as the ironwork leaves gaps and allows an amazing view through. Jerome scampered ahead leaving Dad more tentatively descending as he is not the best when there is a big drop with a visible overhang.
On the first floor Jerome liked the interactive games and information screens about the History of the Eiffel tower and this kept him entertained for longer than I had anticipated. We slowly made our way down to the ground, Chris was happy to have solid earth underneath his feet again.
By now we were aware that we needed to get back to Hotel Nell to collect our luggage. Once a year Paris has a traffic free Sunday, no cars apart from taxis and emergency vehicles were allowed to drive, so the streets were basically empty. This made it the perfect day to get onto the Paris Velib bikes to cycle back along the Seine rather then getting onto the Metro again. Jerome really excited that he was able to get onto the full sized bikes and enjoyed cycling back. The sun even came out for the last stretch past the museums.
All in all a great weekend in Paris, Jerome enjoyed it as much as we did, and we want to come back soon to visit Versailles and venture a bit away from the main sights.
We found Paris very child friendly, well the French in general are, but obviously the usual problems with push chairs might be encountered when trying to use the Metro due to lack of elevators in many stations so consider a sling or baby carrier backpack. Friendly except perhaps the legendary surly french waiters…but that adds to the charm.