If anyone would have asked me which sight in Paris I was most excited to see, I would have never said the Arc de Triomphe. Sure, I had seen pictures of it, but mostly I associated it with Lance Armstrong riding around it on his bike during the Tour de France. In my mind, it was not anything super special, especially after everything we've seen in Europe. I expected the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre would top my list, but never, ever expected the Arc to be anywhere even near the top...
Here's the thing...the magic of the Arc de Triomphe is in seeing it at NIGHT. We actually stumbled onto it by accident because we were headed out to get our Paris Museum Passes and we had to walk right by it. It was Steve's idea to go up in it to the top. I couldn't have cared less...plus the climb was difficult. It reminded me of scaling to the top of Cape Hatteras light house--narrow metal and concrete stairs placed close together in a spiral, with a view straight down to the bottom. I was less than thrilled.
We arrived up at the top around 9:00 at night and the view was simply amazing. I was overwhelmed by just how beautiful it was and was so thankful that Steve had talked me into climbing to the top. I realized after climbing the Eiffel Tower the next morning, it's not the ET itself that is so beautiful, it's a view that includes it. And the Arc de Triomphe provides a perfect view of the entire city of Paris, with the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower as a beautiful backdrop. As I've said before, the experience we had that night from atop the Arc ranks right at the top of my European Top Ten. But be sure to go AT NIGHT! The ET is lit up like a Christmas tree and for five minutes at the top of each hour, it sparkles. Watch that HERE. I am so thankful we got to share this experience with our children.
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