Is it any wonder Paris has always been a dream destination of mine? It’s got such a romantic allure. The first thing I always think of when I think of Paris is its most iconic landmark, the magnificent Eiffel Tower, reaching for the sky. So naturally, the first thing I did when I arrived in Paris was visit. . .Notre Dame. Wait–huh?
Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower first. I didn’t even visit it second. I didn’t actually get around to going to the Eiffel Tower until day 5 of my trip. Not that I didn’t get to see teasing glimpses of it playing peekaboo with me as I toured other areas of Paris, such as Montmartre. In fact, that’s pretty much what I was looking for as I toured the rest of Paris. I wanted to see what kinds of photos I could take of the Eiffel Tower from other areas of the city. While the Eiffel Tower is visible from some places in Paris, I was surprised that you can’t actually see it everywhere in Paris. I mean, are you kidding? Something that tall???
Other than my cat-like desire to stalk my prey from afar before pouncing on it, part of me put it off because I wanted to savor the anticipation of seeing it. I was “saving the best for last”–a risky tactic which has bitten me in the ass before, like when I was scheduled to visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico at the end of my week there, and spent the entire night before throwing up from food poisoning.
But the more practical reason for saving the Eiffel Tower for late in my stay was geography; I wanted to wait until I was staying in the 7th arrondissement, where it was within walking distance of my hotel. But I thought about it all week long. Oh, the anticipation! Should I go up? Should I not go up? How will it feel to be standing at the base? How tall is it really when you’re standing right next to it?
On Friday evening, I finally walked up the Champs de Mars to the Eiffel Tower. . .only to find it shrouded in mist, the upper quarter of the tower missing, like the Invisible Man beneath his wrappings. That was kind of a let down (though it did make for some great photos).
On Saturday, the sun was shining, so I went back and got the full view. I also got a terrific nighttime view of it that night from my bateaux mouches boat tour of the Seine. And you know what? I’m glad I saved it until later in my trip because Saturday was one of only two sunny days during my entire week in Paris, and it was really nice to enjoy the area around the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful, sunny day. In this particular case, the risk paid off beautifully.
Am I crazy for saving it for last? When you travel to a dream locale, do you save the best for last, or do you do it first? What influences the order in which you see sights?