Paris Day 2: The Catacombs, Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triomphe

Today was definitely the busiest day that we had in Paris. And one of my favorites.

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View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

We walked a TON today and we ended up paying for that during the marathon, but you can’t come to France and just NOT see as much as you can, right?

Our day started out nice and early. We ate a quick breakfast in the hotel’s lounge and then headed out on the metro for Denfert Rochereau.

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When our flight got bumped up (we weren’t supposed to arrive until 3pm today), the Catacombs of Paris were the number one thing I knew I wanted to squeeze into our visit.

We ended up arriving around 10:15 am which was a big mistake. The catacombs opened at 10 am and they only let 200 people inside at a time. We jumped in what I thought was a tolerable line and it ended up taking closer to 3 hours.. Whoops! The problem with arriving so early in the day is that once the first people get down there, it takes them a while to make it through… you don’t have the constant exit of people that would would, I assume, later in the day. So, make sure you go BEFORE they open and hop in line, or wait until after noon.

The line

The line

Regardless of the wait, the catacombs were absolutely worth the experience!

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It is estimated that the bones 6 MILLION people are within the catacombs. You only get the opportunity to walk a small portion of the catacomb tunnels that exist, but it still takes about 40 minutes to get through.

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The experience is absolutely chilling, but so very cool to see. And despite the longest line ever to get in, once we were in the catacombs, the crowd was very sparse which added immensely to the solemn feeling.

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Since the line took us much longer than we expected, once we were above ground, we headed over to the must-do of any Paris trip: the Eiffel Tower.

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We spent some time walking the lawns and park around the tower and getting a few [million] pictures, before stopping for some lunch.

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Paul had traveled to Paris in high school and he said that while he was here, he mainly survived on croque-monsieur (grilled cheese and ham sandwiches). He raved about them, so I knew having one was also on my must-do list for the trip. We picked one of the many cafes that line the streets around the Eiffel Tower and when we saw the croque-monsieur with fried egg on top, we were sold.

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SO good. And a little wine for lunch, of course.

We had arranged for a tour via our hotel’s concierge in order to skip the lines and I think it helped. We met our guide at 4 pm and after a brief history and the typical jab at Americans jokes, we headed up in the tower. We stopped on the 2nd floor where the guide took us around to each side and pointed out the main sights you could see. The tour was very basic, but the guide was funny and I found it really helpful to know what I was actually looking at. While a tour is absolutely not needed to see the tower (and may have been a little overpriced), I’m still glad we chose the tour route.

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The Louvre

The Louvre

Our tour concluded on the 2nd floor and we then proceeded up to the top of the tower. I absolutely think heading to the top is worth your time (at least once in your life) and especially on a clear day.

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Going up?

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We headed down (this was a longer wait than going up!, so be leery of your time!) and grabbed my first crepe of the trip! Nutella.. yum!!

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Next up was the Arc de Triomphe. My absolute favorite!

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I mean, I love the Eiffel Tower… but I’ve seen so many pictures, movies, etc of the tower that once I got up there, while beautiful and once-in-a-lifetime and worth any wait, I knew the tower well enough to more or less know what to expect. I never had that moment of OMG.

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The Arc was that moment. IT’S HUGE. I had no idea, how big this was. And so incredibly intricate. I could spent an entire day staring at it trying to take in all the details. The views from the top were even better. A stunning view on the Eiffel Tower, the chance to watch the insane drivers trying to navigate The Avenue des Champs-Élysées.. so beautiful. We also hit right around the beginning of sunset and the colors were gorgeous.

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^^ Love that France doesn’t even bother with lanes.

But eventually we got a move-on, we had tickets for boat ride on the Seine and we wanted to time it right for sunset.

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We nailed it. Another stark reminder of my need for a better camera (especially for night shots), but I promise you it was gorgeous.

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We sailed with Bateaux Parisiens and enjoyed the cruise. Depending on where you sat, you could hear commentary or not. We chose no commentary and sat on the open-air top, but they still used a loud speaker to point out a few things every now and then.

It was also filled with a TON of teenagers having a grand ol’ time, but once we tuned them out, it was fun to see day turn to night on the river. Definitely worth the 14 euro for the hour long cruise.

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After the boat ride though, we were exhausted! We spent a short amount of time soaking in the Eiffel Tower’s lights and then headed back towards our hotel.

We didn’t feel like spending the 1 – 2 hours needed for a meal, so we just stopped at the local market by our hotel and picked up some wine, cheese, crackers and meat and dined in our hotel looking out at the skyline again 🙂

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I tell ya, I’m obsessed.

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