Today we had our guided city tour and the optional Versailles Palace tour (which I had opted out of) and a farewell dinner. The day started by 8.20 am and soon were in the midst of the traffic as usual. God this Paris traffic is really very horrible. They have metro system and even boat buses through the Seine river. The roads are very small and not handled for heavy traffic. Reminded me of Bangalore. We had a local tour guide to show us all the important monuments in Paris. We were supposed to stop at the Eiffel tower and also in the Notre Dame. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays so we won’t be able to see ‘The Monalisa’. I had tried earlier while in Venice to find a booking to visit the Eiffel Tower but it should have been done quite a while ago. All the slots were full and it seems we have a huge queue every time we go there. But the view from nearby was just beautiful. Its not all that funky and marble white and all as we see in the statues and structures in Rome and other parts of Italy and even in Paris and all. But with all the rusty iron look, it did look quite fetching. Having three levels and a antenna tower at the top (built just to not get the tower demolished by the government and it was the first antenna for transmitting radio waves by Marconi, planned by Eiffel). You get a good view of it from all sides too, even though there are quite a few buildings which are built to stop the view, but it still is quite tall. We drove through the Victory Arch planned and designed by Napolean but he never got to finish it, and famous Champs Elysses street which hosts shops for all huge famous and fashion brands. You should see the shop of Louis Vutton, looked like a gold shop of India. Lido is actually here. We had seen this place lit up the day before but were too tired to notice it all. Now with the traffic you don’t have a chance other than to watch them all. We drove through the Grand Palais, the Militaire Escole (the military school), the parliament and very French streets. After the stop in Eiffel Tower, we made the stop at the Notre Dame cathedral. It is celebrating its 850 yrs or so. It’s a big cathedral and has its own history. And we were on time, because there was a huge line forming and thankfully we were in the front, but by the time we came out (almost half an hour later) it was so long that we were glad that we started a little early.
The church is very grand and there was a music playing that was going to be conducted in the evening. It was so calm and quite inside and in some places it looked even eerie. After that we had our other places to see and they dropped us at the Tuileries near the Louvre. Since I did not have the Versailles tour, myself and some of the group members (an old couple from Australia, and one couple from USA) went to check out the Louvre from outside (its so so huge, seems like you need a few months to see all the paintings and art inside it, if it was opened). After that we decided to go to the Boat bus and take a tour of the city on the Seine river. It was like the river cruise, except that we can use this ticket as a bus too. Like you can get off and get on in those specific places. This gave us a better view of the important places of interests in Paris without all that traffic. It was so cold. But a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower , Notre Dame and all other places. It was cool and it was for almost an hour and a half or more. We were supposed to meet back by 3.15 pm in the same place where we were dropped off. After doing a round trip, we went back to the St Germain stop and then walked back, except that this time, I went through the Tuileries (the gardens) and checked out for an ATM (was having just 5 euros ) and then went just on time to have a cup of coffee. I never walked like I have walked in this tour. We came back to the hotel by 4.45 pm and then again had to get ready for the early dinner by 5 .30 pm.
The dinner was in a small traditional Paris style restaurant near the Pantheon. It was nice, it was sort of a farewell dinner with drinks, (I had only water and a traditional welcome drink, and I think that had some champagne and some orange juice) and music and some dancing and a four course meal. It was nice and everyone saying their byes and we gifted our tour director her gift, which we all bought for her in Venice (a glass sculpture called ‘Two lovers’) and she was in tears. She is a cutie.
After that it was almost 9 pm when we started back and guess what she took us to Toucador to see the night view of Eiffel tower and by 10 pm it starts blinking for 5 mins. It gives a great view of the tower with the gardens and all. It was awesome and a perfect parting view of the city. I was just awed by the sheer beauty of the picture because we had an almost full moon near the tower in the sky. Oh… this tower is truly a landmark of the picture.
We came back by 11 pm and went to sleep because we had to wake up early for our London ferry.