Posts Tagged Eiffel Tower

Top 10 Paris Sites

17 November 2010



Sainte Chapelle


Opera Garnier


Luxembourg Gardens


Montmartre and Sacre Coeur




Orsay Museum


Louvre Museum


Arch of Triumph


Notre Dame


Eiffel Tower (of course!!)


Whistle While You Rest?

20 October 2010

The French are striking again. Aaaah, ze French!

I remember one Christmas when the Eiffel Tower workers went on strike because they claimed the staff parking lot was too far away. The rest of the world would say, “Hey, you have an allotted parking space in Paris!” (If you’ve ever driven in New York City, you can relate) But, considering the Eiffel Tower is their #1 tourist attraction, the government said: “Voila! You may have ze new parking spaces!”

And there was the time when farmers went on strike because of wheat prices or tariffs or the price of French bread and “planted” an entire wheat field in the Champs-Elysees. Vive la France!

The current issue? The French government has considered moving retirement age from 60 to 62.  French workers feel that this action would violate one of their fundamental rights. What? Did you just chuckle? Ah, but you must understand that the French take their time off very seriously.

We work at work and we work at play.

In the United States we pride ourselves in our Protestant Work Ethic, typified by the “3-day weekend” – the power nap equivalent to a vacation. What do we do with this day subtracted from our workweek? We work. We do our spring-cleaning or attack projects in our yard and then “relax” by holding a cookout for our neighbors and playing football.

We work at work and we work at play.

The concept of a 3-day weekend is as foreign to the French as Wal-Mart, garage sales, or wearing deodorant.

I remember my childhood in France as a cycle of 7 weeks in school followed by 2 weeks of vacation. France is at its core a Catholic nation and every religious holiday must be celebrated. No objections from me and my school friends! Each holiday was a chance to get away, travel, relax, unplug and spend time with our family and friends, mostly over long meals.

What would Americans do with 2-week vacations every couple of months? Probably get bored. We’d have no idea what to do with so much down time – except perhaps get a second job.

Yet perhaps we should be better “resters.” The American Psychological Association says that one-third of the U.S. population experiences extreme levels of stress. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans experience high levels of stress 15 or more days per month.

Severe stress takes a toll on both body and soul that can only be countered with rest – true rest.

Two-hour lunches, 6 weeks of paid vacation per annum plus innumerable holidays may seem frivolous to us. We think, “Those French people – it’s a wonder they ever get anything done!” Yet they have an enjoyment of life virtually unparalleled in any other society.

Perhaps we can learn a little from their joie de vivre.

One Perfect Day in Paris

3 September 2010

Notre Dame, Paris

If you only have one day in Paris, the first thing to do is to plan a return trip! But if a day is all you have, then get up early, grab a croissant from a local boulangerie and head straight for the Eiffel Tower.

8:30 am Arrive early at the Eiffel Tower and beat the crowds.Then take the train or walk to Pont de l’Alma, and cross the bridge to the other side of the Seine River.

Tip: The third floor views from the Eiffel Tower are impressive but, since you have to pay extra, don’t bother if it’s not a clear day. You’ll see just as much or more from the second floor.

 10:30 am – Take a Seine Cruise on a Bateaux-Mouches. These pleasure-boats operate between 10:00 am and 11:00 pm daily and depart every 30 minutes during the summer high season (less frequent departures in winter). The boat ride lasts about 1hr15. After the boat tour, hop on the metro at Alma Marceau and go one stop to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

12:00 pm – Walk down the Champs-Elysées toward the Arch of Triumph and decide on a good place to eat. Take your time (before eating, you might like to go to the top of the Arch – admission is free with the Paris Museum Pass).

2:30 pm – Take the metro or walk to the Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre stop. From the metro, stay underground and enter through the Carrousel du Louvre entrance, which is usually less crowded than other entrances. Visitors who already have tickets can use a special entrance at the Passage Richelieu between rue de Rivoli and the courtyard.

3:30 pm – At the information desk, look for a pamphlet called “Visitors in a Hurry” that highlights the museum’s star exhibits (or check out the Louvre’s website before you go). Allow at least two hours. After your visit, head over by metro to St-Michel and look for any exit that says “Notre-Dame.”

6:00 pm – Walk through Notre-Dame (ask about guided tours in English). Admission is free, but there are often long lines. When you’ve finished your visit, walk through the plaza in front of the cathedral and hang a left over the Petit Pont to the Latin Quarter.

The Latin Quarter is a great place to buy souvenirs. It has lots of selection and competitive pricing.

7:00 pm – Pick a place that looks inviting among the many restaurants in the Latin Quarter. This area is known for its culinary diversity and selection: you’ll find everything from traditional French cuisine to Greek and Arab food. Enjoy a leisurely meal like the French do, and don’t forget to savor your surroundings. From the Latin Quarter, take the metro to Anvers.

9:00 pm – From the Anvers station, follow the signs to the funiculaire de Montmartre. For a small fee or a metro ticket, this cable car takes you to the top of the Butte de Montmartre for extraordinary views of the City of Light. You’ll recognize several places that you visited during the day. From the Butte de Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur, follow signs to the Place du Tertre.

9:45 pm – The Place du Tertre is the artists’ quarter. Browse around for a painting to take home, if it fits into your budget and your suitcase. Take time out for a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone at one of the quaint (and overpriced) cafés around the square. If you weren’t able to buy souvenirs in the Latin Quarter, you may want to do so here in the Place du Tertre before saying au revoir to Paris and calling it a night.