After many years, I return to Paris. To the same campsite. With the same ideas. Full of curiosity about what has probably changed in this city over more than thirty years.
To start with: a lot has changed. - Above all, the regulations regarding parking fees, which are already in line with the capital. Apart from urgently checking your vehicle documents, we recommend using the campsite between Bois de Boulogne and the Seine in combination with the shuttle bus from there. This will take you to Port Maillot, where you can get on the metro network.
The city has become more inconvenient, particularly for people traveling by camper-trailer.
February 05, 2024
The French capital is making life difficult for visitors with heavy cars: parking fees for SUVs and other models are tripling. A narrow majority of Parisians voted in favor of the plans, which, however, exclude residents. The tariff is to apply to cars weighing 1.6 tons or more and e-cars weighing 2 tons or more.
Source: n-tv.de 2024/02/04, 23:08
When we visited Paris in the past, we went to the city and let ourselves ... rather haphazardly ... drift. We spent many hours window shopping, then stopped at one or two cafes for a coffee or two and maybe a piece of cake. Or the hunger was a bit bigger and we treated ourselves to a crêpe or galette and a glass of wine. (Almost) Everywhere we met relaxed people who were going about their business and gave us tips here and there, what should definitely be visited and looked at.
Those days are gone. Even the number of the formerly ubiquitous 2CV has shrunk to the amount of "Oh! Look!". The people seem to us almost everywhere as rushed like in any other big city. The traffic has decreased, but Paris seems to have become one big construction site, which disturbs the traffic flow very efficiently. On the other hand, we find to many more parking garages than before, which is on the one hand very pleasant - but on the other hand very expensive.
The metro offers itself as a means of transport. The system and the manageability even for the ignorant nevertheless convinced me as a self-confessed rejecter of public transport. However, the task of getting from the campsite to the nearest metro station, for example, confirms all my skepticism.
Of course, there are not fewer sights today than in the past. But today we recommend good travel preparation that takes into account one's own interests rather than the "well, we'll see" of the past.
Our pick was the Eiffel Tower, which you really must not miss, Montmartre and Sacré Cœur, the Arc de Triomphe, La Défense, the share of cultural highlight fell to the Centre Pompidou and a ride on the Bâteau Mouche was due to memory, as well as a flying visit to the Cartier Latin opposite Notre Dame, where the reconstruction of the cathedral after the 2019 fire, according to what we could see and read, is probably progressing properly.
Montmartre has attracted painters since the 19th century with its views, vines and hidden squares. Crowned by the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Montmartre is the steepest neighborhood in the city, and its winding streets with crooked, ivy-covered buildings had a fairy-tale charm. During our visit, masses of tourists from Asia or even Spain rolled through the alleys, past small cafes from whose tables right in front we used to watch the comparatively small trickle of delighted visitors and have our fun with other guests.
At the edge of the Place du Tertre are still the old cafes and restaurants, which we had in best memory and from where we could watch the painters at their work.
Today it is still possible to catch a glimpse or two, but the artists are pushed to the edge of their place by the pavilions erected by the surrounding restaurants. This destroys the charm of this quarter and promotes the artists there rather less.
That is a great, great pity.
On the other hand, if Sacré Cœur is the designated destination, one should determinedly go to the end of the queue of people waiting to see the cathedral from the inside.
Planning and construction began for Sacré-Cœur in 1875 after the Franco-Prussian War and the turmoil of the Paris Commune. It is a symbol of the struggle between the conservative Catholic establishment and the secular, republican radicals. It was finally inaugurated in 1919 and contrasts with the bohemian life surrounding it. It takes 300 steps to reach the dome of the basilica. It offers a spectacular view of Paris - up to 30 km, it is said.
There are several ways to experience the Eiffel Tower, from a day trip to an evening climb amid twinkling lights to a meal at one of its restaurants. And even though some seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower each year, few will deny that each visit is unique - and something that simply must be experienced when visiting Paris.
Named after its builder Gustave Eiffel, the Tour Eiffel was built for the 1889 World's Fair. It took 300 workers, 2.5 million rivets and two years of uninterrupted labor to build it. When completed, the tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world (324 m) - a record held until the completion of New York's Chrysler Building in 1930. A symbol of modernism, it met with opposition from Paris's artistic and literary elite, and the "metal asparagus," as it was disparagingly called by some, was originally scheduled for demolition in 1909. It was spared only because it proved to be an ideal platform for the transmitting antennas needed for the newfangled science of radiotelegraphy.
The tower, which has worn six different colors during its life, has been painted red and bronze since 1968. Work is currently underway to remove the previous 19 coats of paint and apply the yellow-brown color originally designed by Gustave Eiffel, so that the tower will have a new golden coat in time for the 2024 Olympics.
The first of the Eiffel Tower's three floors (57 m) offers the most space. The glass Pavillon Ferrié houses a small café and souvenir store, while the outer tour includes a discovery trail where visitors can learn more about the tower's ingenious construction. And at Madame Brasserie, French cuisine can be enjoyed at lofty heights.
The view from the 2nd floor (115 m) is, I think, the best: high, but close enough to see the details of the city. Panoramic maps show the places of Paris and beyond in whose direction you look.
The view from the wind-sheltered top floor (276 m) reaches up to 60 km on a clear day, although the panoramas at this altitude are more far-reaching than detailed. Those who wish can celebrate the ascent with a glass of champagne from the champagne bar.
Whereas the last time I visited the Eiffel Tower many years ago, I got to the gate, bought my ticket and went to the top, I can't do that anymore. Acceptable. Times have changed.
Today, visitors must pass through security at the bulletproof glass barriers surrounding the base of the tower. Both entrances are on Avenue Gustave Eiffel, and both exits are on Quai Branly.
The climbing is made first to the 2nd floor (by foot or by elevator), from where a separate elevator leads to the top floor. The is due to the space in the elevator and on the platform. For larger luggage, bags or backpacks, and for people with reduced mobility, neither the lift nor the top floor are not accessible.
Theoretically, a ticket can be purchased online. I tried that. It did not work. The server had problems. In high season, without the prior reservation, you have to expect long waits. We were lucky, after barely 45 minutes we could solve the ticket to the top.
A good spot to capture the Eiffel Tower in its full size in a photo that doesn't show it from the "bottom" is on the other side of the Seine, in the Jardins du Trocadéro.