It’s breathtaking and mind-boggling. By Bindu Saxena I wanted to visit the place that evoked shoe-fetishism in me. I must have been 12 then. This footwear remained with me till I turned 18. The only reason why it stayed so long was because it had come from Paris, the French capital and the largest city in Northern France.
It fascinated me so much that wherever I went I wore it, and whoever I visited, I looked for a mirror to admire my “Parisian” shoe. Probably that wasn’t an age to keep the retifism to this extent. One day it made my mother so volatile that there was nothing as one slap. I got three in a row!
If you asked how many pairs I have now, your jaw might drop with much the same alacrity as these would, when I take you to one of this city’s loveliest landmarks – the Eiffel Tower.
Paris has its roots in the 3rd century B.C. Having stayed there for three days, I advise that you really have not experienced everything this city has to offer until you’ve been there at least for a week.
Tourists on a horse-drawn carriage pass by the Eiffel tower on April 15, 2009 in Paris. The Paris-Caleches service has been relaunched for the spring and summer seasons.
Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame noted: “To err is human, to loaf is Parisian.”
This city has images that evoked a romantic storybook atmosphere. With everything you look around, life really is dolce here. Lovers stroll and float along the Seine, pass through the famous Paris bridges, and photo-stop for the Eiffel Tower with a commentary down the river.
They meander around in the green oases and boulevards, and sipping coffee.
And, if they head north, a few minutes’ walk down is a chock-full of traffic motorway bridge. It reminds them of a caravan under which ‘gypsy jazz’, the true sound of Paris, was invented.
If you are not in love you will be.
It revives if it had been lost.
My visit was special because I went with my family. Food, drink, music and art, and love for all the finer things of life are what make this city an irresistible draw.
We decided to be in Paris on my birthday.
It was the spring’s sweet flowery month of May. We boarded this amazing speedster Eurostar, from St. Pancras International. It is a railway station terminus with Victorian architecture in central London.
We passed through the Channel Tunnel at a mind-boggling speed and reached Gare du Nord in Paris in as little as two hours and about 20 minutes after covering a distance of 495 km. At such a speed we could merely glance at Pont de l’Alma the fateful tunnel where Princess of Wales, Diana, died in a car accident in 1997.
The Eiffel Tower was something that I always saw on a paper. And to see it in front of my eyes was like a suspended disbelief.
We were told one could never predict rain here. Soon it was proved.
As we alighted from the tourist bus we had to open our umbrellas. My husband and I under one, went as close to the monument as we could. I was so amazed at its hypnotic effect that I hardly noticed the wet floor below. Fortunately, I saved myself from a near-fatal fall.
It’s just to share that I didn’t like to take my eyes off it.
An imposing structure
One of the best-known human works, this 1,000-foot tower, which took over 24 months to complete and finally got inaugurated in 1889, stands as one wondrously imposing structure in Paris. It has attracted over 200 million visitors.
The crowd never seems to thin…
There was a huge rush. Our tour guide procured the admission tickets and we headed towards the elevator.
Most of them preferred elevators to 1900 stairs that one must climb to reach the second level. The 18-metre elevator climb also allowed us to admire its elaborate metal latticework.
There are three elevators to shuttle you up to the second level. To access the top level there is a separate elevator. The elevators are well designed. These open either to the right or left side. We didn’t have to ask and worry about where to get in and get out from, since we had hired the guide.
If you didn’t seek one you would probably be in a maze, because if you took a wrong one, you would not reach where you wished to. The first level has a circular gallery, which has panoramic indicators that acquaint visitors with an overview of the tower’s history and design. There is an electronic telescope for viewing minute city details. There were also exhibits and informative videos too.
Sadly, only a handful of visitors was seen around to appreciate that.
The second level offers a story of its unique history through animated visual scenes. One could also look at the wax figures of Gustave and American inventor Thomas Alva Edison.
I reiterate, there was scant interest in the visitors to fix their feet here. They went up and down and were merrily seen eating and drinking. I wondered how many of them even cared to know why it was named Eiffel. That saddened me.
Many of us do not wish to hear about the person or the creator, we admire the creation though.
It was time we went up the top. It was a breathtaking view of the city where the breeze filled our lungs. It came gushing through. I was virtually blown off. It came in volumes from the open spaces all around the gallery. Standing amidst the incoherent chatter, and innumerable people, I wished I could enjoy the aloofness – by just being with this monument.
There was so much to relish and contain in the time we spent there.
As we looked down, we peeled our eyes to see the beauty of the city. Being there, it was hard to imagine the marvelous and wondrous thought that led Gustave Eiffel, the French engineer, to create this project, which is one of the most recognised icons of Paris, and probably Europe’s best- known landmark.
This outstanding technological achievement of an age was built for a World Exhibition held in celebration of the French Revolution in 1789. Contemporary artists and people feared that this huge structure would not fit in the architecture of Paris. But today, one could not imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower. It was inaugurated on 31 March 1889.
It has 18,038 separate iron pieces, each of these was designed and prefabricated separately to fit together, using about seven million nails! The structure so massive and an incredible work of architecture could still be categorised as light weight with a total of over 10.1 tons.
It was an emotion of unparalleled joy and ecstasy.
We had snacks and soft drinks and chatted within our group on the ground floor sit-out. We also bought souvenirs and some mementos.
It was 5.30 pm when we headed for our hotel. None of us had a vague idea as to why the tour manager advised us to revisit it at 11 pm.
Seen from a distance, it was an unparalleled brilliance of shimmering light supported by 335 projectors, each equipped with high-wattage sodium lamps.
It’s well worth a revisit.