three times to Paris … three times to the Tour Eiffel … but only up in the elevators once. the most recent time, with Becca, was perhaps the most amusing. I don’t have particularly clear memories of the first two visits, apart from the fact that they were both during the day, and the second time we tried to figure out which riverside tunnel was the one in which Princess Diana died.
many Parisians decried the structure when it was completed in 1889 as an “eyesore” and, when asked why he ate lunch at the Tower’s restaurant every day, Guy de Maupassant explained that it was the only place in the city from which one could not see the tower (flimsy claim if you ask me). while it has become the quintessential landmark of the city, and depicted as visible from many an establishing-shot in movies, zoning regulations in Paris mean that very few buildings are actually tall enough to grant a clear view of the tower. initially, the construction contract called for the structure to be dismantled after twenty years, when ownership reverted to the city of Paris, but it proved valuable for communication purposes and remained standing. and now that it’s become part of the popular perception of the City of Light, more than 200 million people have visited the “eyesore”.
but Becca and I didn’t go up in the tower; we arrived after the elevators had closed down for the night. (we’d climbed up the Arc de Triomphe instead.) instead, we wandered around the park and gazed up the center of the tallest building in Paris. and as we headed back to the Metro, past Les Invalides, we were accosted good-naturedly by a middle-aged, local, hobo-looking gent (from what I remember — Becca correct me on this if you recall differently). I don’t recall precisely what he said, or how we responded, apart from something of the oh-how-gorgeous-you-two-young-ladies variety. what occurs to me now, in thinking back, is that stands as one of the few conversations during the weekend in which a French person began and continued a conversation with us in French. it seemed that everywhere else we went, everyone else we encountered, saw us and began in English, or heard our attempts at French and switched to English. (which was certainly not, for someone, who, at that point had spent seven years studying French and considered spending her study abroad experience in France, a welcome assumption or shift.) but this random lout, between the Tour Eiffel and Les Invalides, assumed and tolerated our French-language abilities.
and now, quite suddenly, after not thinking much about Paris in the intervening five and a half years, I would very much like to visit again.
more from Wikipedia and the Tower’s site