Mon 30ème Anniversaire – Paris Day 4

We actually slept in! Not having tickets for anything and a feeling that a girl shouldn’t have to suffer her alarm clock on such a traumatic day, led us to sleep until almost 9. Once we woke up, we hopped on the metro and took it towards the Arc De Triomphe. It started to rain as soon as we sat down in a café to grab our daily cappuccino and croissant, so we waited it out while we watched the cars buzz around the arch. Once the rain subsided we made our way towards the Arc. I was surprised by just how large the Arc de Triomphe was. I expected something about the size of the arch in Washington Square Park, but this was much larger.

The traffic was insane! People were driving so fast and there are no lanes, it’s a wonder that no one crashed, although we did see a few close calls. It actually took us a little while to figure out just how to cross the round about to actually get to the Arch. We were smart enough to know that we shouldn’t risk trying to walk across the road, and figured that there must be some underground route, but it took us an embarrassingly long time to actually find the passage. Once we made it across, I marvelled at the carvings and reliefs on the arch as well as the tomb of the unknown solider.

I actually didn’t realise you could go to the top of the arch. I really wasn’t that interested in it, knowing that I would be on the Eiffel Tower later that day, but my mother insisted I do it, even if she couldn’t come with me because of all the stairs. As we waited in line, she changed her mind and was about to brave the stairs when we saw two people getting into an elevator. This was great! My mother could use the elevator instead of the stairs.Here’s the problem with that plan – my mother looks fine. She walks fine, she looks young and healthy, so I felt like explaining why we needed the elevator when clearly we were already prepared to walk the stairs was going to be a challenge. Also, I couldn’t think of how to explain our problem in French. I knew that having a headache was to be “mal a la tete” so I figured that could apply to “les jambes” as well? As I was readying myself for some primo French medical speak my mother marched on to the elevator while bored looking attendant waved her by. So the lesson here is, if you are unable to walk the stairs, or if you’re just plain lazy, the staff at the Acr De Triomphe couldn’t care less. Free elevator rides for all!

Breathtaking views!

After The Arc De Triomphe we walked down the Champs Elysee. My mother is a born shopper. I am not. She wanted to buy something in almost every store we went into. She actually bought something at H & M, which I mentioned to her looked very similar to the H & M stores here in Canada. She ignored me. We wandered the streets a little more before settling down for a lunch of steak frites. We even had some champagne to toast my special day.

We found this on our walk, which made me a little homesick.

After lunch we headed over to the Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge in Paris, where we caught a ride on one of their river boats for a tour of the city. Most of the sights we had already seen, but there were a few new ones, and even the familiar ones were nice to see from the water.

The smallest house in Paris. See it?

The Tour d’Argent a renowned restaurant where it is said that Henry III used the first fork in France.

The big show.

After our boat tour we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to get there in the early evening to watch the sunset. The line was long, as I expected, but as with most of the touristy things in Paris it seemed to move well.

We only went up to the second level of the tower. First, the wait to get from the second to third was over 45 minutes and we didn’t want to wait anymore, and also, I am not a great fan of heights and the elevator ride to level two was enough of a test of courage.

After the sun went down over Paris we travelled back to Montmartre to have a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine before closing out my 30th birthday. I used to cry on my birthday. I have no idea why, but each year I listen to a song I have designated as my birthday song, and from ages 20-25 I bawled. It’s not a sad song, and I never really knew why I was crying, but I always got really emotional. I haven’t cried since 25, but I kind of thought this year I might and I didn’t. Well, in full disclosure, I got a little choked up at lunch with some of the things my mother said while we were toasting. One might even say I welled up, but not one tear actually fell so it doesn’t count! Touring around Paris, eating steak, sipping champagne, and watching the sunset from the Eiffel Tower? That’s a good birthday, if you ask me.


2 thoughts on “Mon 30ème Anniversaire – Paris Day 4

  1. Corey Frye says:

    Thanks for the views from the Arc, I haven’t gotten my butt up there yet. Btw you’re right about being able to apply the “mal à la tête” formula to your legs. The “à la” part will change to “au” if the noun is masuline (as in mal au dos), or to “aux” if it’s plural (mal aux jambes).

    Speaking of the boat tour I did it recently almost expecting it to be touristy and lame, but in the end I really appreciated a view of everything from a vantage point you never get from street level. Plus it’s cool to go UNDER all those famous bridges for a change.

    Finally it’s funny you made the Eiffel Tower part of your b-day because for my last one I was offered a surprise trip to the top of it with my wife as well as my brother and girlfriend who were visiting at the time. We didn’t plan it but while we were up there the tower started doing its hourly twinkling thing, and I remember thinking “jeez that’s one kickass birthday candle!”


    • Ashleigh says:

      Ack! Of course! I haven’t taken a French class since I was 17, and I always marvel over how much I have lost, but also the weird things that I still remember (grammar isn’t one of them). Basic vocab has stuck though, probably just from living in a bilingual country.

      I was complaining to my mother when I would catch errors I made while speaking in Paris and she tried to assure me that no one would notice. I asked her if she would notice if someone said, “we is” versus “we are”. Still, I felt like the effort was appreciated most of the time, which it often isn’t in French-speaking Canada.

      I never thought of it that way, but it is a pretty kick ass birthday candle! 🙂


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