Saturday, March 8, 2008

Paris Throws a Party

The red light flashed in the elevator. I couldn’t read the French words, but I was pretty sure it said something about overload. Nevertheless, the French operator sat there, expressionless. What the hell, the elevator was made in the late 1800s, so what could possibly go wrong?

Fortunately, nothing went wrong, and I made it to the top along with the very full elevator car. I was shielded from the windows by the mob of people, so when I stepped out onto the viewing platform, the sight took my breath away.

Paris by night is beautiful – especially from the top of the Eiffel Tower. But this wasn’t any night in Paris. It was the summer solstice, and Paris throws a party. Countless small bands were performing throughout the city, at every café in what the French call "La fête de la Musique."

The main event, however, was across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, at the Trocadero. The palatial building was alive with light, resembling the Aurora Borealis with the ethereal effect of moving, multi-colored lights shining through the smoke around the stage.

A solid block of people clogged the bridge, and all vehicle traffic was closed around the concert. Turning to another side, the sounds of the concert still filtered up the 900 or so feet to where I stood. I gazed down the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, fully lit. On Montmarte sat the proud dome of the church of Sacre Coeur, in the heart of the artists’ district.

As the clock struck midnight, the Eiffel Tower exploded in flickering lights. Thousands of flashbulbs went off at random over the entire surface of the tower. This happened every half-hour for 10 minutes, but it seemed more of a spectacle as I stood atop one of the most famous structures in the world.

Finally, it was time to come down, and I rode the same elevator, with the same warning light and the same undaunted operator. Once on the ground, I wandered through the gardens and fields at the tower’s base. It was Paris as Paris is supposed to be experienced. I was carefree, and nobody seemed troubled or worried. Most people had alcohol, so I joined them and bought a French beer (I know, but I wasn't into wine at the time).

Wandering back to my hotel at two in the morning, I was amazed at how many Parisians were still out. The restaurants were all open and, for the most part, full. I wanted to stay out all night, but I had a train to catch in four hours. I’ll just have to go back next year.


CODY K said...

I like your writing a lot. Do you even have a job still, or do you just travel randomly? Haha.

Natasha said...

wow this really makes me want to go back! haha i love paris and going to to the top of the eiffel tower was amazing. I agree, I like your writing style :)