After sufficient homework and discussion with Rohith, the plan was to meet on Saturday(Feb 9th) at 10 am at Eiffel tower. I left hotel by '8.40 am shuttle' to CDG Terminal-2. From there to reach Eiffel, I took a round about route to avoid St. Michel station. The route was CDG-Terminal-2 to Paris Nord by RER-B, 10 minutes walk to La Chapelle station thru internal connection, La Chapelle to CDG Etolle by M-2 and CDG Etolle to Dupliex by M-6. I was supposed to get down at Bir Hakaeim(nearest to Eiffel) station but the train didn’t stop there. After getting down at Dupleix, I walked for 15 minutes to reach base of tower. As soon I reached there Rohith approached me. He had arrived there just 2 minutes back. Our timing was perfect.
First we discussed about the height of the tower. Rohith too was surprised that the tower looks very small in initial glance relative what it appears in photographs. Next agenda was to take our photographs in front of the tower. Near the base of tower the entire tower was not coming in a single frame. So we walked to the middle of the adjacent park. The photo session went on for a 15-20 minutes. Thanks to good photography sense of Rohith, I didn’t have to spend much time explaining him to get the desired picture.
Then, it was time to get on top of tower. As per the advice of NYT travel we dropped the idea of going to the top by elevator after seeing long queue. Instead we chose to take steps upto level 2. For that also we had to pay 4 Euros per head. As it was cold climbing steps was not very taxing, but it got monotonous in later stages as the view was blocked may be to prevent someone from attempting suicide. At Level-1 in a food stall Rohith had a sandwich for 6 Euro as he was damn hungry. Looking at the prices I decided not to have anything and I was not so hungry also, courtesy free breakfast of Hyatt. At the same level there were a few videos put on display explaining about history of Eiffel tower. Adjacent to the video section there was a shop dedicated to Eiffel tower. It had everything from key chains to big tower models with automatic lighting. But the stuffs there were bit expensive relative what were available downstairs. For example the cost of a keychain was 2 Euros whereas it was 50 cents downstairs. We decided to buy one or two of them just to compare with the one available downstairs.
Next we ascended to level-2. At this level the down view of the park was very nice. There were series of trees without leaves. I just imagined how breathtaking it might be during spring season. After taking snaps on all four sides we decided to go downstairs. At the base of tower an Asian guy(seemed to be ABCD by accent) approached us and enquired about nearest metro station. The explanation to him turned into a small discussion. This created a doubt in minds of security person who was standing nearby. He just stared and stared at us. Well, the recent threat to blow-off Eiffel tower seems to have changed the attitude of French people a lot. They are now suspecting each and every Asian. We took a few more snaps of the tower. While doing photography several Arab females came towards us with a slip asking 'Do you speak English?'. As per wiki-travel's advice we had to ignore these people. But how? I responded to them speaking in Kannada, they immediately turned away from me with frustration.
Arc de Triumphe
Later after buying the key chains and other stuffs at a mobile shop we decided to go to Arc de Triumphe. We walked upto nearby Passy station and from there took M-6 line train to CDG Etolle. I seemed to have got used to Paris Metro by that time after the St. Michel horror a few days back. At CDG Etolle we came out from the nearest Sortie i.e. exit and found a large ‘India-Gate’ type monument, famously known as Arc de Triumphe. Here a couple requested me to take their photograph. They were looking like Indians, but I was surprised to here from them that they were some South Africa (may be of Indian origin).
The next agenda was to go to Indian market. Rohith has got info from his colleagues that it is somewhere near Blanche. But the road towards Louvre Mueseum seemed to be very happening as many people were walking on it. We decided to walk on that road until we get a metro station. The name of the road was Champ de Elysess it is one of the major commercial areas of Paris with many shops. At a major junction we came across a monument Grand Palais and also a metro station. We badly needed to go to a toilet to answer nature’s call. Around Grand Palais there was no facility. Then we went inside Champs Elysees metro station and there also we didn’t find any. Then we decided to go to Blanche and hoped to find a toilet there. The metro route was Champs Elysees->Place de Clichy by M-13 and Place de Clichy->Blanche by M-2.
Blanche - Moulign Rogue
After coming out of Blanche station we found world’s famous ballad theatre Moulign Rogue. I had heard that it is very hard to get tickets for the shows and also it is very expensive(90 Euro) too. We just took photos in front of the theatre entrance and proceeded as daemon ‘search toilet’ was still running in our heads. Thankfully we found a box toilet at the end of the road. Now the next problem how to use it ? There was a slit to put coins, but we didn’t know how to start. A passerby French gentleman came to our rescue. He told that the toilet was paid previously but now it is free. After usage the door closes automatically and flushing is done automatically. Then only it will be usable by other person. Well, the procedure took about 10 minutes and finally ‘search toilet’ daemon was killed with a relief.
Then we walked around in search of Indian market. There were many pubs around in which they had put up a banner live screening of rugby match – Italy v/s France. As we feeling hungry we thought of having food at some eat-out. While searching a man approached us with a visiting card of a night club(can’t recall the name). He introduced himself to be manager of that night club, and showed a photo of a female behind that card. He said that the female will be dancing tonight and we can be part of the party. Then he asked us to come to the club for a 1 minute free demo. Well, the warnings in wiki-travel strike me, it required a lot of effort from our side to escape from him.
A few steps ahead we found a pizza shop. The owner of the shop was a Bangladeshi, his name of Rafique. There we had mushroom pizza and fresh French fries to quench our hunger. After having who, what, where Q&A session with Rafique, we told him about the experience with a night club manager a few minutes back. He cautioned us that Blanche and nearby Pigalle area are very unsafe, and requested us to move out of the place before gets dark. Then we enquired him about the Indian market. He replied that it is there near La Chapelle station, and one can get all the Indian stuffs there.
Before going to Indian market we decided go to Montmartre, so we took M-2 line from Blanche and got down at Anvers. From the station Montmartre is 100 meters uphill walk. This place is natural highest point of Paris and one can witness the beautiful view of city of lights. There is a Basilica atop the hill. We reached the place at dusk and waited for the sun to set and lights to come on. In the mean time we went inside the Basilica, it was really very big with hundreds of benches and photography was prohibited inside. We thought of lighting candle but later dropped the idea as the cost was 2 Euros. We sat there on the benches silently for 15 minutes. After coming out we watched performance of some freelance singers singing some English songs. After sunset we witnessed illuminated skyline of Paris. Frankly speaking the view was not that much exciting as the major symbol of Paris - Eiffel tower was missing from the skyline.
After spending half an hour we decided to go to La Chappelle Indian market( a separated post is required for the description). In the market Rohith and bought some grocery stuffs and we had dinner at a Pondicherry Restaurant at the same place. Then it was time go back to our respective hotels. We walked towards Paris Nord station thru internal connection from La Chapelle station. For the next day(Sunday) we planned for Louvre Museum as it might be my last weekend in Paris. We decided to meet at the museum entrance at 12 noon. Then, Rohith took a train to his place and I took a train to CDG-Terminal-2 and thus the eventful Saturday came to an end. Thankfully I had a company, because exploring the places alone is very boring.