Three viewpoints of the Paris cityscape
If every city has a color … I think London is misty-grey, Rome is Tuscan yellow, and Paris should be romantic hot pink. But for the city itself, the houses are covered with matching blue color rooftops that are so recognizable to the world. Strolling in the city alleys and streets, I always admire the buildings and wondering how they are so ‘unusually’ coherent. I looked it up online and then I found out this architectural style was invented by a French architect in the 17th century and became popular during that period. On top of each French Baroque style buildings, the rooftops are called mansard roof, and it is a double-sloped roof design with two top layers less steep than the lower part in order to maximize the space of the interior. Whilst there are also small oval windows that ‘poked out’ from these roofs are ‘oeil de boeuf’ windows.
The higher you go, the farther you see. It is also the more you see. I love reaching high points and appreciate the city layout, grids, architecture, and cityscape. Especially Paris is rather flat and situated on the river Seine, you might see the city a little bit differently from the above. 🙂
* The Eiffel Tower *
I think the Eiffel Tower doesn’t require any introduction. It is crowded, it has a long queue, we fight and we line up to go up … and yet it is still a tourist’s ultimate goal to go up the tower for all the sentimental reasons.
For a place like this, you’d better be prepared because you don’t know what may happen to you if you simply make a decision to go there in the morning. Looking into the forum, someone showed off that they were ‘lucky’, someone complained the queue was 4 hours… The truth is, things are different every day, and it is a gamble whether or not you could go up to the tower with ease (if, again, you are free spirited and you are not prepared). To spoil the suspense I decided to go for the ‘be prepared’ route – and it was not that easy. I tried to book tickets to the summit of the Eiffel tower – and almost instantly all time slots are full even you could make reservations 3 months in advance. Obviously, now it has become a profitable business for travel agencies to hog the tickets once the time slot was released and sold them again with a marked up price. In the end, I bought the tickets from these travel agencies, the price was doubled, but I don’t have to queue up … as long as the walk-in tourists. We kind of skipped the line (there was a line for the securities) for the elevator to the first and second floor, while when you reached the second floor, there is immediately another line for the elevators to the summit! The Eiffel tower basically has three levels – The first floor of the Eiffel tower is spacious. it has a café, restaurants, washrooms and souvenir stores. Some might even walk the stair to go up the first floor, not that hard and it’s good exercise – even if anyone chooses to go up the first floor with elevator, I would recommend going back down with stairs because there are some exhibit along the wall of the stairs, and the view through the lace-like iron fences is very nice.
The second floor is a little smaller than the first floor and it is the floor connected with the elevators to the summit – it is a queue up the floor so that the long queue would not use up all the space for other view-watchers on the first floor. Luckily, it was not rainy nor boiling hot that day, we could also enjoy the view of the fence while we queue. The 4 elevators worked non-stop and busy to bring the visitor to the summit, so the queue was moving quite fast and it took around half an hour to reach the legendary top of the Eiffel tower ~~~~ Yeah.
* Montmartre *
“Mont” is French for “mountain”, and am I saved to say Montmartre is a hill named Martre? The giant Basilica du Sacré-Coeur is standing right in the top of the hill and the silhouette of the basilica could be seen everywhere in Paris. Since the hill is only 130 meters in height, it is easily accessible for tourists to reach the open space in front of the Basilica and overlook the city. Plus, the Basilica is reachable by foot, by vehicles, or by a short ride in the funicular. Due to the direction of where the church is facing, we didn’t see the Eiffel tower at the parvis du Sacré-Coeur. The good thing about Montmartre is that it is a historic, romantic, and artistic district in town while we wandered around and enjoyed the view for FREE. However, the district is filled with tourists, as well as questionable con-artists and pickpockets that we could fill we were surrounded by them. It was a bit annoying.
* Tour Montparnasse *
Lastly, we went to the Tour Montparnasse. It’s not on a hill but Tour Montparnasse is one of the very rare (if not only) skyscrapers in the city center of Paris. Plus, the building is actually facing the Eiffel tower which gives visitors a perfect view of the modern architectural wonder, as well as a panoramic experience of the entire Paris from 200 meters above. What amazed me is that for such an exclusive location the tower was not crowded (nor expensive) at all. For a fair price of €15, we could truly just relax, enjoy and take photos without pushing and dodging of the crowd. Luckily the weather was fine during the summer day, the view was clear without violent sunlight hitting our face, just grabbed coffee @ the café of the open-air roof-top. I totally recommend this place for visitors if the enjoy viewing the cityscape like me.
Outside the building, we explored the Montparnasse district area. The area was actually quite vibrant with lots of exotic restaurants – Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese… and entertainment facilities.