Europe: Day 15: Paris – Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Couer, Gospel Choir

We woke up to our last full day in Paris and opted to skip the hotel breakfast since we had found out the night before that the 14 Euros per person charge was not included in our lodging.  The breakfast definitely outdid our free Rome breakfast of orange juice, crispy toast w/jelly, and croissants, but not enough to pay $35 for the two of us.  We made our way towards the Eiffel Tower and found a pastry shop and grocery store along the way.  Don bought a croissant, while I opted for donuts, a yogurt, and a banana.  We ate our breakfast on the way to the Tower and while we were standing in line.

There were two lines to buy elevator tickets, so we opted for the line that was in the shade.  We waited there for two hours!!!  Just as it was about our turn to take the elevator up, it appeared that the elevator was no longer running up that leg of the tower, so we were escorted to the opposite leg of the tower which was pretty far away.  Standing in line for two hours does not bring out the best in people, and by this time people were shoving and trying to get ahead of each other.  It was really ridiculous!  We ended up at the end of an even longer line that wasn’t moving.  Don and I were so tired of waiting at this point, that we began contemplating returning later since we already had our tickets.  After realizing that we probably wouldn’t have time to make it back, we decided rather to see if we could climb to the first floor and take the elevator to the second.  Thankfully the guy at the stairs leg let us go ahead.  It really wasn’t that far up, and we wished that we would have done that in the first place. 

I had bought a postcard to send to Caleb because there is a post office on the first floor of the Tower, and I thought it would be cool to have a postcard of the Eiffel Tower sent directly from the Tower.  Don thought it was a bit ridiculous, but was fine with it since we didn’t have to wait in a line.  We had no problems taking the elevator up to the second floor.  After taking in the views, we took the elevator back down.  I think Don would agree that considering the time and effort (and shoving of impatient people), the Eiffel Tower was the biggest disappointment of our trip.  We would both be fine never going up it again.

We found the nearest metro station and made our way to the Sacre-Couer (Sacred Heart Church).  While riding in the train, two punk kids turned up their radio and started rapping and dancing.  It was a bit awkward because these teenage kids would lift up their shirt and start shaking their belly in front of an old man’s face who clearly had no interest in admiring their dance or rap.  There was another couple who were filming the whole disturbance, and we figured that they must have been making a music video of sorts.  They actually did a pretty good job, and later Don said that he was tempted to throw some money in their tin.

After emerging from the station, we grabbed lunch at a gyro joint near the bottom of the hill that leads to the white church.  There was a tram that took people to the top, but we opted to make the climb rather than wait in another line.  It was quite a climb!  Once we got to the base of the church, we saw the same two rappers with an even more extensive camera crew.  They weren’t rapping, but rather it looked like they were taking a break.  Who knows, we may have stumbled upon some famous French rappers.  We’ll never know.

We went inside the church and started making our way around the walls.   

We hustled back to the river to hit the gospel choir concert.  We were there a few hours early because we were not sure how the ticketing worked.  While Don was looking around, a man walked out of the American cathedral and let me know that we can just buy tickets here when the show starts.  He assured us that the entry fee would be nominal.  We grabbed a nice dinner and spent some time walking up and down the river.  When we got back to the cathedral, there was a long line.  Don was able to get to the ticketing line and buy tickets.  Obviously, nominal in France does not mean cheap… It was $50 for the both of us.  We were ushered into the magnificent cathedral, and a choir of about 8 men and women came out.  It was a bit of a strange experience.  It seemed like a black French choir singing American Gospel music to mostly French people.  Their English often had French and a slight British accent, which is a bit weird in the context of gospel.  Also, it seemed like the choir was trying to get the audience to “get in the spirit” by hollering, but it seemed that was a bit beyond the sensibilities of this mostly French audience.  About halfway through, the choir was joined by another choir of about 20 men and women.  It suddenly became quite powerful.  They sang a song named “Joy!” and the audience was suddenly compelled to stand.  Some seemed overtaken by the music, and you could hear “Hallelujah” being shouted out from the back.  It was definitely an odd out of place experience, but a welcome spiritual lift.

When the choir was done singing, we took the subway back to our hotel.  We were pooped for the evening and konked out quickly. 

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