Exploring the sewers of Paris and climbing the Eiffel Tower


Interviews started today to place each of the exchange students according to their level of French. We have a summer course starting next week before our university classes pick up later in September. These interviews were highly important for me because the Institut Catholique de Paris does not host many exchange students, and therefore does not use English at all. Therefore, if my French was not deemed strong enough, I might have had an issue. Thankfully, I passed the interview with a “Parfait!” (perfect) from the interviewer, and all seems well moving forward.

Since my interview was so early into the morning, I had the afternoon to explore Paris. Morgan discovered an underground tour of the old sewers of Paris (not the ones in use of course!) that we could explore. The sewers were easily recognisable as coming from several different eras: suddenly, large modern concrete tunnels would give way to cramped and winding cobblestone ones. The old grates, dams and machinery were still in place, and the oldest sewers were very damp and dripped a lot. It was also really, really hot down there.

The sewers dated back to the Roman times, but those ones were so tiny that you could have only gone through them if you crawled. As a result, they were blocked off. But they were neat to look into from where they met the more modern ones.

When we surfaced again (to much fresher air!), Morgan and I had popped up a few hundred yards from the Eiffel Tower, so we decided to visit. We agreed to walk the stairs (located on each of the four legs) up the first and second levels, and then take the elevator to the summit. Wow did we really have no idea what we were getting into! The first level was just over 17 stories up, climbing metal steps with the open trellises on either side and a bit of metal chain-link-style fencing to keep you from going over. You could see THE ENTIRE WAY DOWN! We were glad when we reached the top of the stairs where the 1st level had a true floor and we weren’t able to look through to the ground anymore! It was still intimidating though to step to the very edge of the tower and get a good look down.

After taking a breather (that was a lot of steps!) Morgan and I had another hike to go, climbing up those same stairs again another 17 stories or so up, but by now, the tower was getting a little skinny. It was like climbing a spiral staircase (One that lets you look down all three dozen stories down!). I know that many people do this every day but that is scary! You just hoped that the maintenance was up to date.

At the top of the 2nd level (with it’s stable flooring!) we were not yet halfway up the tower. And yet, you could see so much of Paris, so far out! The view was unbelievable! The wind was unbelievable as well – the gusts were really strong from up high as we were.

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We didn’t climb the next 50 stories to the top (I don’t know if I would have made it!) as there was only an elevator to take you to the top. If we thought it was gusty down on the second level, we were not prepared for the summit! It is encased by this chain-link-style fencing, but really, you could wiggle your way out if you wanted to. People were sticking their phones, cameras and just their arms in general out of the safety fencing and it was enough to make me feel a little vertigo! Being 85 stories up in the air, feeling the wind and sun and watching the miniature cars, boats and people below, I felt like I was able to see all of Paris!

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