on August 17, 2011
So when you go to Paris, I'm imagining that most people want to climb the Eiffel Tower. Now don't get me wrong we did that too and it was amazing. However, it was also very busy and we stood in a massive queue so by the time we got up there we weren't in a good mood. It also meant that it was quite late by the time we climbed down and went for dinner. So after checking our guidebook we were pleased to see that the Arc de Triomphe was open until 10pm. Off we headed on the metro, which has a stop right near the Arc de Triomphe, found at the western end of the Champs -Elysees, all we had to do was wander through the pedestrian tunnel under the road that surrounds it and we were right there at the base.It was totally dark when we were there and the tomb of the unknown soldier was the first thing that we saw and it was quite moving. There is an eternal flame lit all the time in remembrance of all those that were lost and unidentified in both world wars and that was twinkling in the night. After a quiet moment paying our respects we headed up the lift and stairs (there are only 46 so it's not too bad) to the top. There is a small museum/exhibition in the area where you come out of the lift, called the attic. It gives you all of the information about when it was built and why, which was really well laid out. I didn't spend so much time looking at all this because I knew quite a bit about the monument and also had read my guidebook before going to Paris and was eager to see the view.So off I skipped to the terrasse to be hit with a spectacular view of Paris at night. Then just as I thought it couldn't get any better the Eiffiel Tower lit up and was sparkling in the distance. Truly magical. In fact a bottle of champagne and my lovely man could only have made it better. Forget being on the Eiffiel Tower for romance, go up th Arc de Triomphe at night when the whole world is sparkling, not only is it quieter so more intimate, but you get to watch the Eiffiel Tower in the distance and when it lights up every half hour it's fantastic.Also very obvious at night (and I would assume during the day as well) is the strategic importance of the tower. It was placed at the centre of a dodecagonal of avenues, that were built after the French Revolution by Napolean Bonaparte. These avenues were designed to be long, wide and straight, which ensured that not only could troops be depoyed around the city very quickly, but it was almost impossible for riots to bunch up and create blockages like during the French Revolution. All in all a very clever idea and I was struck by how effective it must be.We stayed on the terrasse until 10pm and the final call to go back down and had I thought it was a worthy use of our evening. We ended it by wandering down the Champs-Elysees having a look in the various shops and cafes. All in all a great experience and something that can be fitted in on an evening if you don't have time during the day.
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