A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. Laozi
But we made plans anyway. They were loose, and you might even say they were more of a suggestion. We had an idea of what we wanted to do each day, but our flexibility extended to the weather, opening days/hours, distance and our level of weariness. But like good travelers, our plan was not fixed and we were not intent on arriving at any place in particular.
I think staying out to the wee hours of the morning proved to be the biggest hindrance. Sleeping in and getting a late start became the norm. We would drag our weary selves out of bed and hit up the Nespresso machine until the cobwebs cleared. But if you want to see Paris at night, in June, you can’t avoid late. On this day, we had a particularly late start. Perhaps we went shopping in the early afternoon. I don’t remember, and I have no photos from the morning to jog my memory. What I know is that my first photo of the Pantheon was taken at 4:21 pm!
The Pantheon and Luxembourg Gardens
I think the Pantheon is a surprisingly overlooked monument in Paris. It has an interesting history, it’s massive, it’s architecture is the finest of neoclassicism, you can take a tour up to the outside of the dome (great views!), it has a crypt with lots of famous and interesting residents, you can see a Foucoult’s Pendulum at work and it is decorated with sculptures representing the golden age of France. If you want to read more about it, check out my blog post from 2014!
I think the tour to the dome is definitely worth it; you get views of the Pantheon that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise, as well as of Paris. If you love architecture, history, science, geometry, symmetry, colors and fine details, you will love the Pantheon.
After our visit to the Pantheon, we strolled down Rue Soufflot, stopped in at Pomme de Pain and got a sandwich and drink then went to Luxembourg Gardens for a late lunch/early dinner.
Le Tour Eiffel
Here it is Thursday already and there’s a major component of seeing Paris that is missing. Something that is more fun to do when it is dark. Can you guess? Of course you can. The heading gives it away. The Eiffel Tower! Yes, we had seen it, we walked around it and we admired it. But we didn’t go up it. Going up the Eiffel Tower requires either a tremendous amount of patience or a reservation. Patience is not my strong suit, so we got a reservation.
We made a reservation with a third party that included a guide. If we had really had our stuff together, we would have just made a reservation on the official Eiffel Tower website. But by the time we sorted through our snafu and tried to make a reservation, it was sold out.
Our guide was pretty good and gave us a lot of information about the tower. More importantly, we got to go through an express line for Security and then we skipped the line to take the elevator to the 2nd level. And that’s where the benefits end! If you’re going to the top, you get in line with everyone else. It’s a long line that moves in fits and starts as people board the elevators and then wait for the next available elevator.
I have mixed feelings about going to the top. It’s a fabulous opportunity to get a 360-degree view of Paris from up above. But it can be a long wait. Because it’s so breezy at the top it’s a great place to cool off on a hot day. Yeah, the wait is a long one. The city lights and photo ops are amazing. But, the wait. You can’t see the Eiffel Tower when you’re standing on it. Waiting for elevators is akin to standing in line at Disneyland on a sold-out day. And even though it can be pretty crowded at the top, there’s something magical about being on the Eiffel Tower and walking around it and absorbing Paris from on high. Who cares about the wait!
I’ve never had a bad trip up the Eiffel Tower. It’s always exciting and fun and as a photographer, the light is different every time! That’s definitely a plus.