Pages of my life…

Best Kept Secrets in Paris (Montparnasse Tower Views and more of Champs-Elysees’)

Posted on: April 16, 2010

Not surprisingly…perhaps some of the best kept secrets are not only unknown to tourists…but to many Parisians as well.   Montparnasse Tower is one of them.  This magnificent structure stands proudly visible for many miles in any direction.  The cozy observation deck encircles the 56th floor.  I use the word cozy in the nicest possible connotation.  No matter what the weather might be like outside…this is clearly a warmly inviting place to visit.  Wise travelers will come back again and again…as there is nothing that rivals the splendor it has to offer.  The elevator is said to be the fastest in all of Europe…ascending more than 600 feet in all of thirty eight seconds.  This fact sounded a bit daunting to me as I envisioned a heart stopping ride with perhaps my own hair standing straight up on my head upon my exit.  This was clearly not the case.  It was in fact one of the smoothest elevator rides I have ever had the privilege to enjoy.  As you depart the elevator and enter the largest room…you will have your photo taken as a courtesy…in the event you may opt for any variety of pictures as a forever souvenir.  There is no attempt at all to sell you anything…and we could easily have walked out forgetting about having had the photo taken.  You have a choices of daylight, midday or illuminated night time views from the tower as a backdrop.  Packages were quite reasonably priced.  The gift shop offered some wonderful choices in very affordable price ranges to ensure no tourist young or old would have to go home empty handed.  There is a video room complete with images and descriptions of notable landmarks in Paris.  Just outside of this room is an interactive floor surprise that was enjoyable for children and adults alike.  A cafe in the main room beckons you to sit back…relax and enjoy the journey as you imbibe in something to quench your thirst or please  your palette.   The atmosphere is casual and comfortable in such a way that you forget you are in the midst of a very large city.  And in keeping with my pattern of story telling…the best is yet to come.  If you opt to ascend a couple of short stairwells…there is a rooftop view that will take your breath away.  From this incredible vantage point…you can see all of Paris and take perhaps the most amazing photographic memories of your entire trip.  In all fairness…I have to admit something to you.  I have a new camera.  In the nearly two months I have owned it…the telescopic lens has remained in the packaging in anticipation of the right moment to try it out.  Yesterday that moment presented itself.  The majority of my photos in the new Montparnasse album were taken with the regular lens.  The few pictures I took using the telescopic lens are quite obvious.  I walked around and around on the rooftop almost forgetting all semblance of time and the young Belgian girls with whom I shared the day.  We met a few days before at the Cafe Trocadero and exchanged information with the intention of going to Montparnasse together for the first time.  The tower is featured in a movie and is quite well known throughout the land because of the wide exposure.  In the film it is noted that only workers are allowed in the actual tower.  Sadly, I discovered a large number of French residents as well as many tourists from all over the world had no idea that anyone was allowed inside.   Admission is very modest (Adult fare as of this writing is only eleven Euro) and lower prices are available for every other age category.  You need not be a tourist to enjoy the wonderful treasures that await you at Montparnasse Tower.  A short metro ride away held another delightful surprise.  Most visitors to Paris catch only the smallest glimpse of the famed Parisian landmark known as the Champs-Elysees’.  I sincerely apologize for not having a French keyboard to write this article as I am sorely aware of misplaced punctuation.  I will sentence myself to one hour of typing on a French keyboard as penance.  It is always a surprise for tourists to discover that some of the letters of the alphabet have been moved.  The Champs-Elysees’ is widely known for the seemingly endless designer stores and the infamous Arc de Triumphe in plain view.  Many people opt to walk under the street to cross over and see the eternal flame and sombering tribute to lost soldiers.  I will cover this wonderful heritage sight another time…but it is the corner stone of the Champs-Elysees as well.  The avenue is widely traveled and built with just that purpose in mind.  The traffic lanes are intended for perpetual travel on a grand scale.   Sidewalks on both sides of the avenue are like none other I have ever seen.  They were meant to afford leisurely walking and shopping visiting side by side with your friends and loved ones.  The lavish displays and ample cafes dotted along the way are a gentle reminder that you have in fact arrived.  The importance of such a place does not go unnoticed.  With a short walk of the Arc de Triumphe you will encounter many famous designer stores offering every kind of merchandise.  Beautiful young women like Katy Holmes can readily blend in and maintain a sense of normalcy.  At last…a chance to be stylishing attired in a celebrity rich environment void of intrusion.  If you are in the mood for a bit of excitement the Lido show proffers superior entertainment.  Most people tend to get caught up in the enormity of it all and seldom wander past the first block or two.  The effort to go even one more block can make all the difference in the world.  There is an incredibly adorable little coffee shop decorated in pink on one side of the avenue.  The car dealerships have space age modern displays and colorfully built and designed buildings to inspire the inner child in all of us.   As you approach what appears to be the end of this section…there is a stunning display of floral elegance that meets the eye in every direction.  If you think of a roundabout being like a pie neatly divided into slices…each slice is a different color where countless blooms nestled at the base of trees meet perfect spring grass and landscaping your eyes will dream of long after your journey to Paris has ended.  The fountains that normally adorn each bed of flowers were not fully prepared for spring time yet…but the view in front of you is already sheer perfection.  I will spare you the details of all the wonder and surprise I have left out of my wide eyed stroll through Paris…as you will no doubt want to discover them for yourself.  I will however tempt and tease you with a few of my photos from a day well spent and money wisely invested in a life I have come to not only embrace each and every day…but to love in both new and exciting ways.   

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