Keith Johnston

A Baguette, Cheese, a Bottle of Wine….and the Eiffel Tower
It is fascinating to sit in one of Paris' many cafes or patisseries in the morning and watch the locals. To order a "coffee" will get you an espresso. "Cafe Americano, s'il vous plaît", will get us a strong coffee in a full size cup. Basically an espresso with added hot water. You can get them at home and they are stronger than a regular brewed cup of coffee. 

Breakfast consists of something fresh. Croissants and pastries are the norm and amazingly, almost everyone orders a fresh baguette to go. They will carry it with them as if it was their purse or briefcase, to be consumed at some point in the day.  

Completed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is the most popular attraction in France, and one of the most popular in the world. Millions of visitors every year will see the 1000 ft icon in person. We were fortunate to be among them. With France hosting Euro 2016, a huge soccer ball has been temporarily suspended through the middle of the tower. And yes, Ben, it looks like it has just been freshly painted!

Maggie and I had brought with us a bottle of wine, a nice piece of cheese, and of course... a baguette. We found a bench and enjoyed lunch. I think Maggie checked off a bucket list item today.

After lunch it was time to make our way north across the Pont de L'Alma and along Marceau Avenue toward the Arc de Triomphe. The world's largest triumphal arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate the victories of the "Grand Armée". The monument is engraved with the names of hundreds of generals who commanded French troops in Napoleonic victories. 

At the base of the monument lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, paying tribute to all of the unknown who died fighting in both world wars. The eternal flame had been visited by the Kennedys two years prior to JFK's assignation and was the motivation behind Jackie Kennedy's request for an eternal flame for the President.

The Arc de Triomphe begins the two kilometre walk down one of the most famous streets in the world, the Champs-Élysées. Lined with designer stores, restaurants, and people, the street ends at the Place de la Concorde. This is where we find the Tuileries Garden. The 350 year old park was the place where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded, and relaxed. Click on any of these three locations to learn more.

Finally, we enjoyed a very nice meal at a local French restaurant, Poulette. The streets are alive in the evenings, often with people dancing in the small side streets to music playing from the local businesses. 

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