The Eiffel Tower and River Seine

There were A LOT of pictures taken of and on the Eiffel Tower as well as the River Seine. There were also a lot of facts being thrown around. Therefore, enjoy a rapid fire of pictures and facts!

Facts Learned from the Eiffel Tower Tour

(Includes facts about the tower itself, and facts about certain landmarks seen from the tower.)

  1. Built by Gustav Eiffel for the World Fair in Paris in 1889, the Eiffel Tower served as the gateway into the fair.
  2. The World Fair was especially important as it was the centennial of the French Revolution. The tower would help represent the greatness of France. (As the tour guide had said, “We can revolt and build tall buildings!”)
  3. It took over 2 years 2 months and 5 days to build 28 January 1887 to 31 March 1889.
  4. It was only supposed to stay up for 20 years, but Eiffel fought for it to stay. His scientific additions saved the structure. (It was also fairly popular and remains so with nearly 7 million visitors per year)
  5. The tower was the tallest building in the world, standing at 300 meters. Then in 1929 the American built the Chrysler Building (319 meters) and took that position away. (“Those dang Americans” – tour guide).
  6. Thus the tower had the antenna added making it 5 meters taller. Again it held the title of tallest structure.
  7. Well, America decided to build the Empire State Building (381 meters). Nothing could be done. (“Those dang Americans” – tour guide).
  8. Oh speaking of Americans, apparently Eiffel had some trouble building the tower and called in some American engineers for help!
  9. Another foreign country fact is when Hitler took over Paris, he actually objected the decision to burn the city and tower to the ground. He was a lover of the arts and also saw the tower as a bragging right.
  10. The original color was reddish, but due to need for repair it was repainted again and again and again (18 times in total).
  11. As said before, it was originally reddish, but it’s been yellow, chestnut brown, and now bronze
  12. It takes about 18 months to paint the whole tower, as well as a lot of people, paint, and protective measures.
  13. There are 72 names engraved along the sides of the tower. These names belong to important mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who assisted in the construction.  
  14. Eiffel had wanted the tower to serve as more than a decoration. The tower thus works as a beacon, meteorological lab, and a radio tower.
  15. The lift within the Eiffel Tower was indeed already built, it was another bragging device. Eiffel would take people up to the top to show off.
  16. The original life is a hydraulic counterweight and has a slanted track from the 1st to the 2nd floor.
  17. Unlike London, the financial district ended up being built outside the city of Paris. This had to due with the height of skyscrapers
  18. There were 13 other buildings similar to the Tour Montparnasse  that were planned to be built. However it blocked the view of other smaller buildings and was quickly distasteful to the citizens.
  19. Through protest, an agreement was made that no buildings over 7 stories would be built within the city.
  20. This building also serves as the Danish Embassy and thus cannot be torn down due to political politeness.
  21. There were a few other structures taller than 7 stories built before the agreement.
  22. The symbol on the building represents the city’s desire to hold the 2024 Summer Olympics. (I’ve been seeing it everywhere! Posters and clothes.)
  23. In a straight line, starting from Notre Dame and ending at the Grande Arc is the Axe historique (Historical Axis) of Paris
  24. There’s 800 years of history along the line. There are many monuments that can be seen during the 2 hour walk
  25. The tour guide talked about 5 specifically: Notre Dame,  The Louvre, Concorde, Arc de Triomphe and the French Communist Party Headquarters
  26. Notre Dame took 20 years to “complete”.
  27. It isn’t actually completed because the 2 flat towers were supposed to have spires constructed
  28. The Arc de Triomphe was built in order for Napolean to parade under after sucessful conquests.
  29. The Arc was not completed before Napolean’s death in exile. His remains were however carried under the Arc on his way to his burial place.
  30. Napolean’s body is buried under the golden tomb of the Les Invalides.     
  31. The Louvre.. actually I don’t recall any facts. But I’ll write about what we saw in my next blog. (Also this picture is from my set taken at the Louvre, but I couldn’t get one from the Eiffel Tower, too hard to see where she was pointing)
  32. The Place de la Concorde is famous for it’s public executions that took place during the Revolution.
  33. The execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette garnered a crowd of 80,000 people!
  34. The last use of the guillotine was 1977, it wasn’t public however.
  35. The obelisk that stands in the middle of Concorde, is a 3,000 year old Egyptian “gift” to the French.
  36. Napoleon actually stole it. And the British stole it’s twin. (With further research, this isn’t true. It was gift from the King of Egypt at the time and the British received a different obelisk, Cleopatra’s Needle. So the twin to the Luxor Obelisk remains in Pylon)
  37. Alexander III’s bridge was built to commemorate France’s alliance with Russia. This was due to the threat of Germany at the time.
  38. Another homage to the Russia and French relation is a Russian orthodox church that had just been completed this past year.
  39. Lastly, if you want the perfect photo of the Eiffel. Stand on the raised area between the two buildings that belonged to the French Communist Party. This i the only place you can get the Tower from bottom to top.

I think that’s it for facts! Credit to Wikipedia and the Tour Eiffel site for helping refresh my mind on the information given during the tour. Too much info to keep straight.

A few of the photos were taken during the River Seine tour since a lot of the buildings could be seen from the water. There’s too many photos to share from the Seine (over 200), so here are some of my favorites.

 People are very adventurous with their sitting along the Seine River.

Notre Dame actually sits on an island in the Seine.

There were so many people on boats, bridges, and along the edges that would wave to us! I felt like royalty!

There are over 20 bridges crossing the Seine and each one is unique.

Oh I do have one more fact from the Eiffel. Yup, that’s the Lady Liberty the US gifted to France in return for our big one. Which was actually built by Eiffel himself. Our Statue of Liberty, received in 1886, celebrates our independence in 1776. This one, given to the French in 1889 is to celebrate the Revolution. Both symbols of freedom actually face each other. Even across oceans, our two countries are united.

Before we left the area, we did see a newlywed couple taking wedding photos. Paris is the “City of Love” after all. (SPOILER: This is only the first couple we saw)


Getting a Bit Lost to a Flea Market

Look! We saw a cat while we were passing by the window of a house! There’s been quite a few dogs around (some really well behaved ones not on leashes! But no poodles yet?) but seeing this cute feline was good part of my day. Especially since we had gotten lost trying to get to the right subway station. We headed in the opposite direction… whoops my bad. But we did get to see the Eiffel Tower at a distance! It was nice preview of what we would be seeing later in the day.

We were trying to get to the flea market in Vavnes but I was admittedly holding the map wrong. Hey! No one told me which way to orient it… how was I to know the River was in front of us and not behind us? Also I was following the bus stops since the Svres-Babylone station is also a bus stop. Except the map was reverse. You’d think the stops would be oriented in the correspondence to the actual direction the bus is going? Well it was a good learning experience and a pretty nice detour honestly. Though definitely NOT a seven minute walk… They do say the destination is only half the journey!

We did finally make it Vavnes, I think. We made it to a farmer’s market in the area, although they were 30 minutes away from closing and thus packing away their goods.

There were lots of produce stands, meat stands, cheese stands (obviously, it’s France), jewelry/clothing stands and even a fish stand! There were also stands selling cooked food to eat as well as flowers for gifting or decorating homes. Of course there were a few stands for tourists. I bought a trilby at a hat stand! Yup what most people mistake for a fedora is actually a trilby. (Shout out to my friend, Mike W. back at UMass for this information!) I think this Parisian printed hat is a perfect addition to my trilby collection! And no I didn’t buy the earrings, they were a gift from my Aunt who knew I was going to Paris this summer!

There were a lot of pretty flowers. I wish we could bring them home, but as an environmental student, that isn’t a good idea. We could’ve bought some for the hotel room though…

Roses of Paris! I am starting to pick up on some French!

After the farmer’s market, we ate at another one of those corner cafes. I got a Limonade, which tastes really good but it’s not like lemonade back home. It’s clear and bubbly like sprite. But it’s not Sprite because some restaurants have Sprite listed separately. I also got an ansiette grenelle salad. The roast beef on the bread was nice and chewy!

This was all before we went for our Eiffel Tower and River Seine tour. But that is going to be the next blog post since this one already has a lot! So stay tuned and remember I also have other pictures and posts on my Facebook (Lily Green) and Instagram (@lilgreenmonster)!

Arrival in Paris

After checking into our hotel and dropping our bags off, we had a good three hours to kill before our room was actually ready for us. Considering how tired we were from the plane trip, we decided to go grab a bite to eat. Over on the next corner was a cafe with outside seating. Cafe Saint Germain. (It seems to be a popular trend for there to cafes on corners of intersection with outside sitting). Our waiter was very nice! He took a selfie on my mom’s phone!

The first thing we tried was a dish that is very “Parisian” as my mom says: croque monsieur and croque madame. Below is my croque monsieur which is basically their version of a ham and cheese sandwich. The croque madame has a fried egg on top of it. I don’t like eggs very much, so I let my parents be the judge of that version. They were all very tasty!

We walked around a bit, just sort of window shopping until it got closer to 2pm for check in. The view from the hotel is amazing. We’re right on the main road and opening the window door allows for a nice breeze and the sounds of traffic, especially at night.                               

We all took a nice nap until 6pm. It was a well deserved on too!

The last thing we did that day was walk to Latin Quarter, which is a general area of schools, shops, and restaurants. The 20 minute walk was mostly just looking at the shops until we found a place to eat dinner. I did buy a postcard for my friend on the way. Oh and I bought macarons from Maison Georges Larnicol! Yum 🙂

One of the weird things we talked about as we sat down for dinner at Rendevous Saint Germain was that it was still bright out. The sun didn’t start to set until 10pm! No wonder the French eat such a later dinner.

My dad tried escargot! I passed on trying one. I’m not a fan of snails when they’re alive, nevermind cooked up and ate.

We went to a crepe stand for dessert and I got a nutella crepe. It was nice and warm and chocolatey.

Good way to end the day I say.

Foreign Currencies

Of course, if you want to fully experience another culture, you’re going to need money! It’s a necessity for everything! Transportation, entertainment, food, knick-knacks! My parents had a lot of money exchanged for the trip. I, myself exchanged 300 USD worth of money. In this day of age, however, we don’t need to worry about carrying just cash. With a lot of calls and information filling, we were able to get a credit card that doesn’t charge a conversion fee. So any huge expenditures (or just running out of money) is covered with one swipe of a card! Still, it’s really cool to look at the paper money used in Europe. It’s really colorful compared to American money and each denomination comes in a different size too. I’m planning on keeping a 5 from both to add to my foreign money collection! (Unfortunately the Francs I have won’t do me too good in Paris, I also only have maybe $2 worth)

Above are the Euros which we’ll be using in Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam (hopefully I’ll be planning a personal excursion with new friends once I get to the college). The exchange rate for USD to EURO is 1.1736. In my case it cost me $199.51 to get 170 Euros. While I can’t tell you too much about the landmarks found on the paper money right now, I’ll hopefully get the chance to learn about it while we’re visiting.

Now on to the Great Britain Pound! The Queen is featured on the front of the paper money. (Maybe we’ll get a small glance of her? I’m not going to make the frivolous wish of drinking tea with her… mostly because I don’t really drink tea nor coffee). Anyways, the exchange rate of USD to GBP is 1.341. Took me $100.58 to obtain 75 GBP.

It’s a really good thing that I am an excellent money saver and a cautious money user! I plan to find some good deals over there, especially at any market type settings (farmer and flea markets alike). With the money all settled (which should be done early enough to give time for it to be ordered by whoever you get it from, like AAA). guess I should make sure the rest of my packing is on the right track!

(I plan to have my next post include pictures of when we first arrive, but I will be keeping all social media accounts updated. That includes Facebook (Lily Green), and Instagram @lilgreenmonster666). All tagged with @studyabroadUML and #aifsabroad)