Eiffel Tower: Sights, sounds & smells…

Photo by Bryon Meyer

Photo by Bryon Meyer

The Eiffel Tower is a “must see” when visiting the grand city of Paris, so we crammed this icon into our itinerary.

We walk from the metro… Hmmm… where is a bathroom?  Ah-ha! Just after we passed the Louvre (and a Gypsy having a loud argument with an African Eiffel Tower vendor), Randy spies a small pay toilet and he pays the lady attendant.  Randy proceeds to conduct his business  only to notice the woman is still standing there watching him.  Awkward…

After a lengthy walk, we arrive at the latticed wrought iron landmark and find we are not alone. The area around this popular tower is crammed with tourists, vendors with large rings of tiny Eiffel Tower replicas, Gypsies attempting to scam tourists… Do you speak English?  Sign my petition for orphans… along with the regular pick pockets. They would have to dig pretty deep to get any of my valuables and I’ve learned to say “No,” so I’m still feeling pretty secure.

We stroll through the area and see a man urinating in the bushes right by the sidewalk. We continue on our way and see another man doing the same thing and we soon discover why.  The only bathroom facilities we could find was one of the automatic pods that takes a minute to disinfect  between users.  Long line backed up waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. This may explain why so many areas in the city smell like urine.

The Eiffel Tower, La Tour Eiffel in French, was the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition — or World’s Fair — of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France’s industrial prowess to the world. Not all were pleased with the project as a group of 300 artists, sculptors, writers and architects sent a petition to the commissioner of the Paris Exposition, pleading him to halt construction of the “ridiculous tower” that would dominate Paris like a “gigantic black smokestack.”

There are many fun fact to know and tell about this massive structure, but the most interesting to me was the effect of the sun. Logically, the tower was built to sway slightly in the wind, but the sun affects the tower more. As the sun-facing side of the tower heats up, the top moves as much as 7 inches (18 centimeters) away from the sun. The sun also causes the tower to grow about 6 inches.  livescience.com

Even though the tourist trap atmosphere and lack of bathrooms at the Eiffel Tower are negatives, you can’t help but be amazed at the architecture and stare at the design from all angles possible. It is a worthwhile stop.

Best advice when visiting the Eiffel Tower?  Restrict your liquids or wear Depends.

Musée de Cluny

Musée de Cluny joins together two prestigious buildings in the heart of Paris: the Thermes Gallo-Romains de Lutèce (Gallo-Roman baths), built at the end of the 1st century and the Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny, built at the end of the 15th century.

Click on images for a larger viewing window:

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The six tapestries depict a slender, blond woman in a Mediterranean garden with a unicorn and a lion on either side. They were woven in Flanders in the early 1500s by unknown artisans — most likely ordered by a wealthy family in Paris, but their subject remains mysterious.

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They are considered some of the finest examples of medieval handiwork in the world.

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For images and more information about this series of tapestries and information click on the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musée_national_du_Moyen_Âge

http://heindorffhus.motivsamler.dk/arthistory/frame-TapestryUnicornLady.htm 

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Early medieval sculptures from the seventh and eighth centuries are also stored in the museum.

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Adam made of stone from around 1260.

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cluny-1080100Vaults of the gothic chapel

cluny-1080095While Musée de Cluny is probably not the first place that comes to mind when visiting Paris, it was well worth the visit.