My flight arrived at ~6AM and my mom's flight arrived ~7:45AM. I met her when she came out from baggage claim and we attempted to get our planned shuttle but I ran out of change after I was on hold too long with the shuttle company so we decided to test out the RER train system, something I preferred to do anyway... but it did suck dragging our luggage around when making the two connections we needed to make. This was the definitely the cheaper route (40 euros for the taxi vs 21 euros for the train) and more of an experience... just what my mom needed after traveling 16 hours in economy class! We got to our hotel about 11AM and checked right in. We stayed near Invalides in the Hotel de Varenne, a hotel that was advertised in the Orange County Register Travel Section in an article my mom cut out just after I left for Lagos in 2007. It was a nice, quaint hotel in a great location, walking distance from everything... at least I thought it was (sorry mom!).
We rested for about an hour and then headed to the Eiffel Tower via Rue Cler, where we stopped for lunch. Rue Cler was the first place we saw the beautiful flower shops and the lovely fruit and vegetable displays. We ate pizza at Tribeca and it was great. I enjoyed a simple Margherita pizza with yummy cheese and my mom enjoyed the ham and mushroom pizza. This is where I started testing out the little French I had learned on the flight over.
Following lunch we made our way to the Eiffel Tower approaching it from the Parc Du Champ De Mars to the southeast, taking photos along the way. It is a spectacular engineering structure with striking symmetry. We wavered on whether or not to go to the top and decided to walk across the river to the Jardins Du Trocadero to take in the views from there. We relaxed on the steps above the fountains for about one hour and watched some street performers (dancers) do their thing while constantly being asked of we were interested in 3 metal Eiffel Tower figurines for the low cost of 1 euro ($1.40).
We decided to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see Paris at twilight and at night. The lines were not long at all. We stopped at the second level (400ft above the ground) to take photos and the scenery was beautiful! Paris is cut in two by the River Seine with many of the main attractions ( the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Hotel de Invalides, Arc de Triomphe, etc.) lining the river and surrounded by 18th century buildings, mostly four stories, packed together and separated by narrow streets. Many people walk and take the Metro (train) or buses as the networks are immense and efficient. If they do drive, the drive small cars and we saw many Smart Cars.
Back to the views from the Eiffel Tower... We went to the top (900 ft above the ground) via elevator and it was twilight so we stayed up there until it got dark and I took lots of photos. It was amazing and we were lucky to have great weather! Suddenly an announcement came over the PA system telling us that the tower was now closed to all and we were instructed to exit and stay calm. Many folks left but I still needed to get photos so we stayed and then took the elevator down to the second level where we took more photos. From here we walked down the 360 stairs (instead of the elevator) to the first level (200ft above ground) taking more photos adn then we walked down another 360 stairs to the ground level... and my mom did not want to see any more stairs at that point. It was a long day. We headed back to the hotel on foot hoping to find a place to eat but we were out of luck. We got back to the hotel about 9:30PM and asked where we could eat... we had Japanese across the street from the hotel. It was good but not what I expected to eat in Paris!