Visit to Paris was one of the memorable events of my Europe tour. The city’s reputation as the fashion hub of the world and vivid tales that I had read about its people, culture and history had aroused in me a strange curiosity to see, feel and know it. I had picturised in my minds screen a unique image of the city and after the visit realized that the real Paris was far more breathtaking and is beautiful beyond imagination.
Paris is loaded with wonderful things to see and do (if you can afford!). It has countless treasures sprinkled all across it, you need at least 15 days to see it fully. Any lesser period wouldn’t do justice to your visit. I stayed in Parish for four Nights and five days and parted it feeling disappointed about inadequacy of time.
Episode 1: Visit of Eiffel Tower
Why I visited Eiffel Tower?
You just can’t avoid seeing Eiffel tower when in Paris. It’s so tall and colossal that it is visible from almost everywhere, It’s so famous that you are too nervous to miss it and it’s so unique in its concept that you are allured to have a closer look.
I saw it dozens of time during my stay, especially because it was visible from every prominent corner of Paris. However on two occasions I took up errands to see it exclusively.
To an inartistic eye (like mine) Eiffel Tower is no different from the Airtel mobile tower that is set up behind Mr. Jossy Pinto’s house. In some ways it’s similar to it too! However, there are two significant deviations, first, Eiffel tower is far bigger ( the top most platform can house 800 people at a time and if you have attended any marriage in Kirem hall, you know how big it is. In addition there are two restaurants in it) and secondly, the amazing level of engineering that its design and erection must have involved (especially due to the fact that its engineering was done in 1880’s when there were neither computers nor modern day advancements). But, more specially, its uniqueness lies in the harmonious marriage that it represents of Engineering with artistry.
Day time visit :
On my first visit, I went there to have a look from viewing gallery around 300 meters from it, near a metro station ( Paris has 14 metro line which are interconnected). The day time view was a pleasant experience due to the majestic view and also due to the cool breeze that chilled us even in the peak summer month of August. The 1,063 feet (324 Meter) tall structure appears gigantic but from ground its top most platform looks big enough to accommodate only 20 people ( where as it actually holds 800 people). Such is its size. Perhaps its prominence is partly due to the pride that it must have invoked in French hearts about their technical superiority.
The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend either on stairs or lifts to the first and second levels. The walk to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is only accessible by lift. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants. You need to wait for hours together to get the tickets .
History says that it was meant to be temporary structure (like the ones Mr. Gopadkar designs for Karvali Utsava every year). Architect Gustav Eiffel has designed it to be the entrance arch for 1889 World Fair held at Paris to commemorate century of French revolution and had only twenty years license to keep it upright. Till 1930 it was tallest tower in the world and today it is the highest visited paid monument in the world.
Its a steel structure and weighs 10,000 Tons. It has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France. The tower is a featured part of the backdrop in literally scores of movies that take place in Paris.
Its iconic status is so established that it even serves as a symbol for the entire nation of France, such as when it was used as the logo for the French bid to host the 1992 Summer Olympics. 20 Crore people have visited it so far. More than 6 million people visit it every year.
Night time visit :
I visited it for a second time during night as someone taught me that best view of Eiffel tower could be cherished when you are floating on the Seine when the the tower sparkles.
We went there as the twilight started gathering ( In August sun sets at 10.00 PM in Paris), as it became dark, the illumination on entire tower got on. All of a sudden, the metallic structures started to resemble one single red hot metallic piece nudging to its melting point. Set against the backdrop of a dark horizon it shone like a divine symbol. After relishing its magnificence for a while, I along with Icy and Armaan set forth for the much awaited Seine river cruise.
In a little while my Son Armaan yelled “ Joy, see how big the firecracker is”. I saw the tower. With some innovative illumination; it appeared to sparkle literally like a fire cracker, say like Uppanna’s shops “Surusur kaddi”. (This sparkling effect consumes so much of electric power that, it is allowed to happen only once in an hour that too only for a minute).
The seine presents an awesome view in the night. It looks more like a well ornate bride with golden colored heritage structures flanked on all side and exquisitely detailed medieval bridges set across her like necklaces. In a open boat when we cruised in a serene breezy night against a 1000 feet tall firecracker it felt more like a mythological journey. This is paris devoid of fashion and pretentions, pure exotic beauty. No wonder the places keeps inspiring creative minds for centuries now.