The number in the title isn’t an exaggeration – in fact, it’s a conservative estimate. I really did walk 22 miles (at least) while visiting Paris for the Eiffel Tower Vertical race!
In addition to being gorgeous, I found Paris very easy to navigate. I never once used a taxi or Uber, and instead relied on their stellar train and bus system, as well as my own two feet.
It was a packed trip. I had never been to Paris before, and there is so much to see and do! On one epic walking trip, we walked the campus of the Louvre (home to the glass pyramid in the above photo), and we also visited Notre Dame…
…and a world-famous taxidermy story called Deyrolle (no photos allowed, but there were so many I wanted to take!). We also explored the impressionist exhibit at Musée d’Orsay, where I was photographed with a rhino…
…and later visited the Marie Curie Museum, located on the campus of the university where she used to teach. I got cozy with her and husband Pierre:
Clearly, I love taking photos with statues! And that was all in one afternoon – a 5.5-mile expedition, all on foot, except that we took a train to the Musée d’Orsay, our first stop, and a train home after the walk was over.
I say ‘we’ because I was with my friends Katherine and Jen. We stayed at an Airbnb a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, so we were in the heart of the city, across the street from one train station and around the corner from another.
On another outing, Jen and I explored Montmartre, which is a stair lover’s dream. Stairs everywhere, because the neighborhood is on the highest hill in Paris. The centerpiece is the famous Sacré Cœur Basilica, located at the top of a huge stairway.
The hill is so big that they built a funicular, off to the side, to bring people up and down.
We climbed the stairs, then took the funicular back down. There’s even more stairs alongside the funicular, so Jen took the funicular back up, while I ran those stairs. (This was the day before the race, and I wanted to get my heart rate up just a little bit!)
But I wasn’t done with the stairs. I paid a few Euros and climbed 300 stairs to the top of the Sacré Cœur dome, where I was handsomely rewarded with stunning views.
We explored the top of Montmartre, found even more stairs, and then wound our way back down to the base, pausing for a photo op with the Moulin Rouge.
We visited other landmarks, too, like the super-famous Arc de Triomphe…
…and the much less famous Lavirotte Building on Avenue Rapp, which won a big design contest 100 years ago and has a huge penis and scrotum hiding in plain sight on the front doors.
We attempted to visit the catacombs beneath Paris, but there was a 2-hour wait to get in, so we skipped it and instead wandered the 14th arrondissement, including a jaw-dropping cemetery in Montparnasse.
On my last full day, Jen and I headed out to visit Versailles, on the outskirts of town. The train that would’ve been a straight shot there was not running that day (we weren’t sure what was going on), but we found our way out there, taking two other trains and two buses.
It was a cold, rainy day that only got colder, so that rain turned to snow. We were underdressed, and pretty miserable to be stuck outside in a large line at Versailles. Luckily, it moved pretty quickly and we soon were on the other side of the gates.
The palace was beautiful, and jam-packed with tourists, and I probably would have enjoyed it more had I brushed up on my French history and the life and times of Louis XIV beforehand. It was hard to ignore the opulence, artistry, and craftsmanship on display, though!
A royal, elegant palace is sure to have a grand staircase, and Versailles did not disappoint!
I had no idea the gardens and grounds were so enormous. The gardens extend for miles – literally. Jen and I walked 1.7 miles each way to check out the Petit Trianon, a royal retreat on the grounds, and the Queen’s Hamlet, a picturesque village that Marie Antoinette built as a getaway for her and her friends.
I have a confession. I lied earlier when I said I walked 22 miles. I actually only walked 18.6 of them, because Katherine and I also went for a 3.4-mile run the morning after the race. Our route included running the length of the Ìle aux Cygnes (Isle of Swans), an artificial island in the middle of the Seine that’s long and very narrow.
At the south end of it is the Statue of Liberty. Did you know there’s a Statue of Liberty in Paris? There’s actually three, and this one is the biggest, being 1/4 of the size of the one in New York. (The other two are indoors, in two different Paris museums.)
Another huge highlight of the trip was meeting up with my sister Laura and her boyfriend Chuck, who coincidentally happened to be in Paris at the same time. Our visits only overlapped by a day or so, but we were able to meet up and spend a few hours together, and that was fantastic.
(If Chuck looks familiar, that’s because he was my Plus One lifeline when I was on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”!)
I have more pictures from the afternoon with Laura and Chuck, and I’m going to share them in my next post. I’m also going to share more about what I ate. And if you’re thinking lots of croissants and crepes, well… you’re wrong!
Keep it up, David!
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