After that harrowing experience aboard the X-Wing Fighter, we boarded a much safer taxi and made it back to our hotel. My cousin and I immediately crashed while my wife and her cousin walked back to the Notre Dame “Hop On Hop Off” bus stop.
We contacted everyone and jointly agreed on the evening’s activities: go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, eat a small dinner at a casual brasserie and call it an evening.
If was approximately 7:30 p.m. when we departed from our hotel. We received a recommendation from the hotel and departed to pick up my wife’s cousin at a nearby hotel.
Our hotels are ideally located in the 8th arrondissement only a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. It only took us a few minutes to get there. Fortunately, my wife knew how to get there (I assumed that we would have to jaywalk across the stream of cars in the traffic circle.)
It turns out that they have a tunnel that takes you beneath the traffic circle. The tunnel was well lit and reminded us of the tunnel to the parking lot from the Hollywood Bowl. Fortunately, there were a lot fewer people walking through this tunnel as it could have gotten claustrophobic.
At the base of the Arch de Triomphe stands a torch. Every evening at 6:30 P.M. it is rekindled, and veterans lay wreaths decorated with red, white and blue near its flickering flame. It burns in the darkness to recall the sacrifice of an unknown French soldier who gave his life during World War I.
Most people walk up the stairs to make it to the top of the Arc. Since we did not feel like making the 284 step hike, my wife had purchased tickets to use their elevator. After going through the security screening, we were escorted to an unmarked elevator door.
The elevator ride was extremely fast and very smooth. We made it to a floor just beneath the top of the Arc in a matter of seconds. It was only 40 steps up from that floor before we made it to the top.
We admired the view, took a lot of pictures and decided to take the stairs down instead of the elevator. Fortunately no one in our group had meniscus issues and the trip down was certainly easier than traveling that many steps up.
Our dinner destination was only a few blocks away. The hotel reassured me that the Cafe de Paris is not a tourist trap, but looking at the menu, it seemed fairly Americanized to me.
My wife had the croque monsieur and I had the female counterpart, the croque madame (fried egg on top). Two croque madames arrived to our table and after they realized their error, they lifted the egg off of one of the croque madames and served it to my wife.
I didn’t ask about everyone else’s meal, but to me, I felt like I was eating a cheese pizza with a fried egg on top. A croque monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich bursting with gruyere cheese. Its appearance resembles a sandwich made with two slices of bread.