My time inParis was flying by and Christmas Eve came before I knew it! Aside from the plan to visit the Arc de Triomphe, the day had surprises along the way!
PARIS FUN FACTS:
Before I share with you my experience, let me give you some information about the Arc de Triomphe and a brief history....Napoleon I had the Arc de Triomphe built to immortalize the battle won at Austerlitz and to honor his soldiers. The construction began in 1806 and was completed in 1836. Inaugurated that same year, the monument later bore witness to major national events such as the return of Napoleon's ashes in 1840, the vigil for the funeral of Victor Hugo in 1885, the WWI victory parade by the Allies in July 1919, and finally, the internment of the Unknown Soldier in January of 1921 and the eternal flame was lit in 1923, which is rekindled every day at 6:30 pm, a ceremony organized by the "La Flamme son l'Arc de Triomphe" association.
My Visit to the Arc de Triomphe:
Having some background information, I started off the day with a stroll over to the Arc de Triomphe- a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Because of the ongoing pandemic, a reservation had to be made at least 24 hours in advance- mine was for 10 am.
Upon arriving, I received my first surprise! 284 steps up and then back down again! No elevator! See, what assumptions get you- never crossed my mind that there was not an elevator! 202 steps and you arrive at the mezzanine level with another 82 steps to the top! The views were spectacular! In my opinion, the view is better than the Eiffel Tower! I think that might be because although you are 164 meters high, you aren't so high that the city below is dwarfed; The Arc is also located at the roundabout where the main 12 avenues converge, and because of this, you get a better perspective of the city.
According to the informational brochure I picked up at the Arc, the average visit is about 43 minutes. I spent about an hour and that was plenty of time to see the artifacts in the museum and browse the gift shop on the mezzanine level.
Leaving the Arc de Triomphe, I approached one of the police officers asking if there was a church that was open close by as it was Christmas Eve and all...... He gave me pretty simple walking directions to Saint Honore d'Eylau.
There is someone very special to me in my audience and my circle of close friends who had just received some wonderfully unexpected news and since I considered this news "A REAL Christmas Miracle"! I had a burning desire to light a candle for her and her family. It turns out this church was the 2nd surprise of the day- rich in history and absolutely stunning with beautiful stained glass, their own Stations of the Cross, and 3 organs! Right in the heart of Paris! These are the kinds of things that unplanned excursions, walking, and an open mind that make travel absolutely amazing!
After leaving the church, you guessed it was coffee time!!!! I love sitting at outdoor cafes and getting my caffeine fix! But, in Paris, I have to say, the coffee just tasted better, sweeter, richer, so French! Would I escape from that city without the need for coffee addiction rehab ?!?!
When traveling, if at all possible, go with an unplanned schedule and walk, walk, walk! I've found that the sights, sounds, and smells of walking, fully immerse you in your destination. By going off the beaten path, you stumble on to some amazing things that had you had a fully planned itinerary, you would have missed. Some of my fondest travel memories are the "accidental" places where I ended up! Typically, I am a planner, so I always have a loose plan, but I keep myself open to "anything is possible"! To put it simply, live "Mallory's dream"
What to do next? In my pre-trip research, I had read that most everything would be closing early for Christmas Eve. Using one of my travel activity apps, I found, you're never going to believe this- a scavenger hunt in Paris! My Gosh, this was going to be great! The hunt is at your own pace and takes you thru the city finding clues to reunite "2 separated by tragedy lovers"! But alas, disappointment... I arrived at the starting point and the clues wouldn't download onto my phone! Darn it! But, with this small setback, I remembered that one of the highlights on the app description was Sacre Coeur- the Sacred Heart Basilica in Montmartre, a village within the city limits of Paris. This was the 3rd surprise of the day!
PARIS FUN FACTS:
Montemarte is a large hill in Paris's 18th arrondissement. It is 130 m (430 ft) high and gives its name to the surrounding district, part of the Right Bank in the northern section of the city. During the Belle Époque, many artists lived, worked, or had studios in or around Montmartre, including Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, and Vincent van Gogh. Montmartre is also the setting for several hit films. The Moulon Rouge, famous for its cabaret shows is located at the foot of Montmarte.
Arriving in Montemarte:
I wasn't ready for the climb to Montmartre; steep hills and slick pavement from the mist in the air made for a tired gal by the time I arrived. But, it was worth it! My Gosh was it worth it! I made my way with the help of Google Maps to Sacre Couer and yet another surprise! This day just kept getting better!
I found the love locks on the fencing in front of the Basilica! I had met a fabulous couple on the dinner cruise a few nights prior and had exchanged contact information with them. We had been texting our "finds" in Paris since..... a quick pic of the love locksand they were on their way over! I had seen love locks one other time and that was on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy. Make sense, right? Paris is the City of Romance; love locks are a natural!
After wandering away from the Basilica, it was time to wander the cozy shops and soak up the Christmas atmosphere of lovely, quaint Montmartre. Being there felt like a step back in time, cobblestone streets and all!
By the time I was ready to leave Montmartre, it was getting late in the day and I had about a 1.25-hour walk back to the hotel. Oh, boy, this was going to be painful! I looked forward to the "honor bar" at the hotel and a yummy French Christmas Eve dinner! (it didn't disappoint!)
With Christmas Eve, Day 3, being so spectacular what could come next? Friends, there's plenty ahead! Christmas Day in Paris brings an unexpected find and then The Louvre on Day 5. Come back and read about the next day's adventures.
Until next time, friends, remember: "To Travel is to Live"!
© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin