Tuesday, July 8
It was much more of a rush to make our 11:53 Eurostar train
to Paris than we anticipated. Our days have been very busy, and everyone likes
sleeping in. We also had several last minute things to take care of (getting
rid of all our excess English pounds, running to the Post Office, etc.). Finally,
after one last English breakfast, we all made one last walk down Edgeware
Road to take the Tube to Waterloo Station where we could catch the train to
The Eurostar was a much bigger production than we realized. We should have
reserved tickets in advance to get a better fare - this was very expensive.
The whole check-in and security process is similar to getting on a plane -
not what we expected. The ride on the train was fine - it definitely goes
much faster after it crosses under the English Channel into France. We were
told that's because the tracks in France are much better.
We arrived in Paris at around 4:00 PM local time. The train station was packed,
and we waited in line for a taxi to our hotel. The difference in climate was
noticeable as soon as we went outside - it was much warmer than any of the
days we had spent in London.
After settling in at the hotel, we left for the evening. Paula and I have
a tradition as part of our travel routine that we often kid ourselves about.
Our first day anywhere always seems to end up being an unbelievably busy one
- this was no exception!
Our hotel (Hotel Louvre Rivoli) is centrally located right by the Louvre,
so we immediately walked to the Louvre and turned up the Rue Rivoli. Kids
in tow, we walked up to the Place de la Concorde and took in the views both
back along the Jardin des Tuileries (with the Louvre in the distance) and
up along the Champs des Elysees. This was Paris as Paula and I remembered
it - we were very excited for the kids to experience the beauty and to take
in the exciting atmosphere.
We then proceeded to the Champs des Elysees in search of dinner - none of
us had eaten since our late breakfast, so we were eager to find an outdoor
café where we could enjoy our first meal and people-watch. On both
sides of the street, they're putting up temporary bleachers in preparation
for Bastille day next week - it looked like there were thousands of seats
already up, with a long way still to go. After some searching for food (we
didn't realize that the restaurants are generally on the south side), we found
a nice outdoor café and enjoyed a leisurely meal before continuing
our walk toward the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs des Elysees was bustling with
activity - it was fun for the kids to see the variety of people, stores and
restaurants. David especially enjoyed walking into the Renault dealership
and seeing their latest inventions - electric cars with all kinds of gadgets
including cameras that provide the driver with a full view behind.
We walked to the Arc de Triomphe and viewed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
There are 12 roads that converge here, making this the busiest "roundabout"
in the world. The Arc was started by Napoleon in 1806 as a tribute to his
battle victories, and was finished in 1836. The view from the top of the Arc
was spectacular (Paula and I didn't remember being able to do this when we
were here before). It was a beautiful evening, and we spent close to two hours
on top, taking in the view and watching the sunset. The view of the Eiffel
Tower was great, and we enjoyed seeing it change as it became lit as the evening
progressed. The sun didn't set until 9:45, and at precisely 10:00 the Tower
became lit in a sparkling display that was really exciting - this lasted only
a brief 10 minutes - we assume that this is a show that's put on each night
at this time.
Finally, we left the Arc at 10:30 and walked back down the Champs des Elysees
to catch a Metro back to our hotel. We topped off our evening with some ice
cream, and all crashed back at the hotel - totally exhausted! A typical first
day for us
Distance Walked: 5.25 miles