Springtime in Paris is often touted as the best time to visit and on a murky January day it was hard to disagree with this logic. The sky was grey and slightly misty, the summit of the famous Eiffel Tower playing hide and seek within the clouds.
The chance of some great views over the city seemed remote, however in the city of romance optimism seems appropriate. Therefore my friend Nara and I soon found ourselves queuing for tickets. There was only one of the pillar elevators in operation but the benefit of a January ascent is that it is relatively quiet. The short queue soon disappeared and we were able to purchase our summit tickets for 14 euros, a reasonable price to pay for optimism.
The trip to the top is short-lived, the views consisting mainly of the mass of metal which forms this icon of travel with occasional glimpses of gay Paris. In the grey mist of this particular day however it did not appear especially gay, our optimism was being tested to its limits.
The last time I had looked over the city from the top the views had been breath-taking, a clear day in April far too many years ago. This day did not live up to this memory however, the surrounding districts were visible but beyond this the suburbs disappeared into the mist. The tower looms over the snaking river Seine and this was clear enough along with it’s constant stream of barges and pleasure craft.
Dozens of tourists still posed for their photograph, others making the best of the situation, attempting to find a good angle to produce that eye-catching image with which to impress their friends and family.
Few were using the many telescopes available, optimism is one thing, attempting to bring the mist shrouded outskirts of Paris into view would have been just crazy. They made good foreground subjects for images however.
Browsing the souvenir shops on the first level wasted a few minutes but it wasn’t especially tempting to part with any hard earned cash. Everything appeared to cost at least a third more than the shops outside the city centre and they hadn’t tempted me that much either.
Shortly after I was reacquainting my feet with terra-firma in search of a good coffee, something which had so far eluded me in France’s romantic city. My coffee experiences to date had been distinctly average, maybe it is this lack of quality caffeine which is the cause of the Parisians ardour? I’m anticipating a few comments in defence of French coffee now.