FOR WHAT HAPPENED NEXT, I HAVE NOBODY TO BLAME BUT MYSELF. They day was about to get way better, but not before the wheels just about fell off.
When we emerged from the Louvre the sky was clearing and we suddenly had a clear view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. I knew from the map it wouldn’t make sense to walk to the Eiffel, but we could also see the Arc De Triumphe, and it at least looked closer. My regrettably too-hasty inspection of that map confirmed it was walkable. With the warming sun out, we decided to hike it…but I didn’t want to lose all of the sun and daylight strolling down the sidewalk, so I issued a half-joking challenge to the kids: “Let’s see if we can get there in seven minutes!”
Two hours later, we arrived at the Arc. That is a lot farther than it looks.
The walk was not a waste, it was just really long. We walked out of the Louvre, through the Jardin des Tuileries, past L’ Obelisque, down the Champs-Élysées and finally to the Arc De Triumphe. Along the way we had some views of the Eiffel Tower, stopped for a snack, ran around the garden, watched some street performers, and took in the shopping scene along the Champs-Élysées, but by the time we arrived at the Arc, I thought for sure we had lost the kids for the day – it was truthfully an exhausting walk.
AS IF THAT WERE NOT ENOUGH, after we walked to the end of the Champs-Élysées, under the worlds largest traffic circle, to the entrance to the elevator, that is the point at which Chase said, “Dad, I have to go potty.” Unfortunately Napoleon didn’t commission a toilet built into the Arc de Triumphe, so I consulted with some local police officers. “Is there bathroom nearby (and what I really mean is can he pee on the sidewalk right here in front of you?)“. Either way the answer was no. So we walked back across the worlds largest traffic circle and back down the part of the Champs-Élysées in search of a restroom.
What could have been a 5 minute metro ride had turned into a roughly 2 1/2 hour epic Odyssey. By the time we returned to the Arc we were verging on a 5-kid Chernobyl scale meltdown.
But miraculously, the Arc perked them all back up. We took the elevator (yes, there is an elevator) to the top for an unbelievably striking 360 view of Paris and a tantalizingly close view of the Eiffel Tower. By that point the weather had turned fantastic and the sunlight highlighted a gorgeous city-scape, including an I-think-I-can-almost-touch-it view of the Eiffel Tower, and spirits turned up a little. If you ever get to Paris, the top if the Arc de Triumphe on a sunny day is an absolute must.
At that point, I was ready to call it a day. We’d seen two major sites, one that I didn’t think could get much better. It sun was setting and we hadn’t eaten, and I feared the kids were at their limits. But the Eiffel tower loomed closer than ever, and the kids implored us to go see it before we go home.
That turned out to be a great decision.