“Wow!” we remarked – “if we are climbing this many steps just to get to the funicular to take us all the way up to Sacre Coeur Church, what is it like if you climbed all the way to the church??” Little did we know – that is just what we had just done! We followed our phone’s directions, and it always led to us another loooooong staircase, then another. We (well, Jan) huffed and puffed and rested and pulled out the bottle of water, absolutely winded, thirsty, and exhausted. So, we arrived at what looked like an Alpine village, very charming, and searched for the funicular to make our way up to the church. A curious thing happened. As we walked, a huge church loomed in front of us. We walked toward it, wondering if there was another church part way up the mountain? Nope. It was Sacre Coeur. We had climbed stairs (the back way) all the way up. 270 steps, to be exact. Excruciating.
To get to the funicular (which of course we never found), we started out on the subway, exiting at the Abbesses station, just three stops away from our hotel. We did not know that Abbesses metro station is the deepest in Paris (118 feet below ground), and we exited up the staircase, as usual. Every time we thought that – this is it, we’ll be at the top and outside, just around the next bend – there would be another staircase, and another, and another – 200 steps, in total. (When we returned to our hotel, we looked up the number of steps at that metro station. Climbing the stairs there is on a list of things never to do in Paris; wish we had known that before we went!) Soooo, with the metro station and church, we climbed 470 steps!! No gym for the next two days!
The Champs Elysees is beautiful to walk down. It is filled with both vehicles and pedestrians, as well as every designer store from around the world. Each restaurant has outdoor seating, as all other large cities do, but one in particular was just beautifully decorated. Look at the photos to see which one it was. Also, we have provided the requisite photo of the Arc de Triomphe, but these huge monuments that everyone knows aren’t very interesting, other than their fame and size – oh, and their place in history, of course!
We spent a bit of time in the Petit Palais, which is across the street from its big sister, the Grand Palais, both built for the Universal Exhibition in the year 1900. It is a free art museum, and its architecture, ornamentation, and art collection are quite wonderful. In turn, both of these wonderful buildings are just a few steps down from the Pont Alexandre III, one of the most beautiful bridges across the Seine.
As we have wandered the streets, just about every restaurant has a “fixed price” menu for lunch and often dinner, but lunch is the main meal here. Generally, for lunch, you can get an appetizer, main dish, and dessert for anywhere between 12-20 euros. All of them have available tables, particularly inside, as outside fills up first. The only lines we have seen? You won’t believe it – Burger King, Five Guys, and McDonald’s. Five Guys on the Champs Elysees had about 30 people in line, spilling out onto the sidewalk. We always remarked about how, on our honeymoon in 2003, driving around France for five days, every tiny medieval village that had two dozen houses always, also, had a McDonald’s! And so to see fast food so popular, still, in the City of Gastronomes, is just astonishing.