The Top of the Arc du Triomphe in Paris

June  2013

With a grumble in my tummy, I walked out of my hotel and past a few different cafes. I walked into one called Hippopotamus and sat at a lovely table on their patio. In my endearing broken French, I ordered a glass of red wine and the salmon. Next thing I know, the waitress brought over a 1/2 litre carafe of red wine. Oh boy. My French really isn’t that good. I guess I ordered a carafe?

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About half way through my main course, I looked at the sky and marvelled at the changing colours. I had the thought, I should go up to the top of the Arc Du Triomphe and watch the sunset! Oh my gosh! I should go up to the top of the Arc Du Triomphe!!!!!! I quickly paid, finished the carafe of wine, and was out of the restaurant in a flash. I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and whistled at the nearest cab. “Arc du Triomphe,” I said! He stepped on it! He asked which do I like better, Canada or Paris, and I said I liked both for different reasons. Secretly, I answered, “I like the Paris cab drivers more. I have never had a sexier cab driver in my entire life.” He put on the radio and Imagine by John Lennon played. I smiled and looked at him in the rear view mirror. He smiled too. How do you ask a cab driver out on a date in French?! It was a beautiful moment.

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We were at the Arc du Triomphe in a flash. He stopped on a side street on the outside of the roundabout. He told me that nobody is allowed to stop in the middle. Fair enough, this roundabout is like an extreme game of Frogger. One in which nobody wins. I paid him and thanked him profusely. I walked towards the steps he told me were the entrance to the tunnel, but they turned out to only go down to the metro. I looked over at my cab driver and he motioned for me to get back into the car. I told him those steps didn’t lead to the entrance, and asked how I get there?! I hopped in the cab and he cut across traffic. He pulled to the side of the Arc du Triomphe and rushed me out. I really felt like I was in a movie. If only there was a beautiful man who gave me some sort of romantic ultimatum to meet him at the top of the Arc du Triomphe at sunset, or he will never love me again.

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I paid my entry and began my trek up the 284 stairs. The slow, unfit, sober tourists in my way, were pushed aside as I bounded past. I think the adrenaline took over because I somehow made it to the top and onto the terrace in 7 minutes. After a carafe of wine to myself, I pretty much become an olympic athlete. I caught the end of the sunset as it made its way past the tall buildings of the city centre and disappeared behind the horizon. The view was breathtaking. It brought me close to tears. The Eiffel tower began twinkling as the clock struck 10, and I stood and watched with all the wonder of a child. I walked around the entire top, and took about 100 couples’ photos for them. I walked down the steps as the terrace closed and head to the nearest metro station. What a perfectly magical way to say goodbye to Paris. I fell in love here, not with a boy, but with a city.

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