On the way to meet a friend from high school who was in Paris for several days, I stopped for a chocolate croissant: hot from the oven, with the flaky dough and melted nutella.
I got on the metro and met her at a café on the edge of the Seine, across from the Louvre (a block down where I lived last fall with a host family). We had croque-monsieurs (toasted ham and cheese) and finished with espressos. I showed her where I had lived and we crossed the bridge Pont du Carousel towards the Louvre, my favorite place in Paris.
From the bridge, you can see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, City Hall, Notre Dame, the Seine, the apartment of former President Jacques Chirac — and my old door.
We descended the escalator under the glass pyramid of the Louvre. This museum is so big, I have visited many, many times and still have not seen everything.
Of course, we saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, but one of the most interesting parts to me is in the basement.
There, you can walk around the original foundation of the first fortress built in the 12th century where the Louvre stands now. In an adjacent room is the history of the Louvre, including models of the development of the enormous architectural masterpiece we know today.
Leaving the Louvre, I stopped at a grocery store on the way to another Haverford friend’s apartment. We started the meal with appetizers and aperitifs, followed by moules (muscles) and pasta, and topped it off with French tarts and homemade cookies. French wine accompanied it all.
After relaxing for a little bit, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. We camped out on the Champ de Mars, the lawn leading out from the tower, amid droves of picnickers who flock to the park with blankets and baskets on nice nights like this one.
La Tour is awesome at night, completely illuminated, and for five minutes every hour on the hour, the tower sparkles with 20,000 lights. We opened up several cheeses** and some ham and took advantage of the amazing atmosphere.
Around 11:30 p.m., we got in line to buy tickets for the 700-step climb up to the second level. Any higher, you must go by elevator.
I had not been up in the tower at night before, and it was breathtaking.
We had the good fortune to be there at midnight when the sparkling began again. The light was like rain falling, shooting down around us. We even signed our name on a billboard on the second level, taking our cue from the thousands of names already left there.
The city of lights always lives up to its name.
**Grant’s top 5: Roquefort (blue cheese), Chevre (goat), Camembert, Comté (gruyère), Beaufort