We woke up at 4:45 AM to catch the 5:30 AM Tube to Waterloo Station (departure point for the Eurostar train to Paris). We left the hotel and walked to the Bond Street station, only to find that the doors were locked (it turns out we went to the *wrong* doors)! Frustrated and worried about missing our train, we raced back to our hotel, hailed a cab to Waterloo, and arrived at 6 AM (*barely* on time for our 6:32 AM departure)!
Our Eurostar train left at 6:32, and arrived at Paris’ Gare du Nord station at 10:23 AM (Paris is one hour ahead of London GMT). We had trouble locating an ATM at the station, but eventually found one and proceeded to the cab queue outside the station. Our cab driver was *insane* (used bus lanes, race car maneuvers, swore in French at other motorists, made his own lanes, and nearly mowed down innocent pedestrians). Nevertheless, we arrived unscathed at the Hotel Britannique, (one of only two hotels that I didn’t use Priceline for) where we checked our bags at the front desk since it was too early to check in.
We left the hotel, bound for Notre Dame Cathedral, at noon. Notre Dame was only a short walk across the River Seine. We picked up an audio tour at the main entrance and wandered around this magnificent place for about 2 hours. Photography was not allowed inside, but we took away a great experience. After exiting the cathedral, we stopped to snack on store-bought croissants bought the night before from Marks & Spencer in London. We had lunch at Au Vieux Chatelet, which wasn’t very good. I had a late afternoon French “breakfast”, but they were out of croissants! Stacey had an very tough ham sandwich. We then checked into our hotel room, unpacked, and took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower station.
We decided to have a second attempt at lunch upon finding a sidewalk café along the Seine. This consisted of a baguette sandwich and Evian (of course) and was much better than our first experience! We took the 6 PM river cruise (Bateaux Parisiens) down the Seine past Notre Dame and back. The cruise photographers took a decent picture of the two of us, so we decided to go ahead and buy it. We left the boat dock and headed for the Eiffel Tower, where we went all the way to top observation area, then down to the second level, where we watched the sunset, and saw the lights of Paris illuminate. We stayed on the tower for over two hours, and had no desire to leave…but, eventually we got hungry!
After leaving the tower, we went to the metro, since we had planned on late French dinner in another part of the city. My metro card wouldn’t work (though it *had* worked earlier in the day and was a multi-day pass). Since there was no one at the station to help with my problem, we ended up taking a cab to Cafe Beaubourg for dinner. Unfortunately, it was so late when we arrived that they would only serve us drinks. We decided to have some white wine before leaving to walk back to a restaurant closer to our hotel (le Zimmer), where we had dessert (mint ice cream, apple pie, beer), before crashing for the night (long day!).