“Powder Express to the Eiffel Tower” – by Debbie Ambrous

powder1Screams!  I was sure that I heard screams, and then along the side of the street I saw young people throwing something.  On top of the tourist bus, I felt a bit of a scare creep along my spine.  I thought I had read too many stories of riots, and viewed too many news clips.  Closer to the scene, I heard laughter and saw a group of students throwing powder (plaster of Paris??) at each other while most of them wore white coats.  Squealing louder since they had an audience, they waved arms in the air and put on a performance including water pistols aimed at us. powder3 Were they art students?  I wished I could jump down and join them with my camera in closer range, if I could protect it from the powder bursts.  If nothing else, I was fully awake then, full of anticipation on the first morning of our Parisian tourist bus tour, ready for whatever came my way next.

Top of the list for us, and surely for anyone visiting Paris, was the Eiffel Tower.  When we had our first good view, everyone rushed to the right side; it is totally a wonder that the bus didn’t tip over sideways! We couldn’t believe we were there at the foot of this famous tower once again.  Many years had passed with several trips to France, but not to the Eiffel Tower.  Ten years ago, we were high above the city together on a cold day in April, hugging each other and thrilled at the view below.  Jim was here with his sister Virginia later and met students from Alabama, but I was not part of that escapade.  It is still unbelievable that they found their way around France and back home again!  Would you like to read more about Jim and Virginia meeting the young man from Slapout, Alabama on the Eiffel Tower? Just take a look for info on the book “A French Opportunity” by clicking here.

powder4A giant tennis ball was suspended between the first and second floor on the tower, paying tribute to the famous international tennis tournament of Roland Garros.  Maria Sharapova celebrated her win with a photo shoot in front of the Eiffel Tower just a few days after we had returned home.  I wish I could have been there on the sidelines with other amateur photographers for this event. 

The line for tickets was long, but not as bad as I had expected.  When we reached the ticket booth, there were two options: all the way to the top for a higher price, or the level just below the top for less.  I insisted, “Why don’t you buy the lower-priced ticket?  That will be gracious-plenty high enough for me?”  I leaned heavy on saving money, hoping to appeal to his cheap-skate blood.  It didn’t work. Jim said, “We have to go to the top!  You will thank me when you get up there!  He had stood high in the Parisian sky with Virginia, but I had missed out since it was too cold and windy when we visited together in early April many years ago.  I didn’t think I had missed anything except the possible scare of my life.  I went with his crazy ticket-buying, thinking I might back-out at the last minute, or cling to him with my head buried in his all-weather jacket.  We ascended to the level below the top, and it was simply grand with the sun shining beautifully on the city below.

Do you recognize the buildings far in the distance at the top, center of the picture?

Do you recognize the buildings far in the distance at the top, center of the picture?

 

Now, even with my shaky hands aiming this photo you probably recognize Sacré-Coeur on Montmartre hill.

Now, even with my shaky hands aiming this photo you probably recognize Sacré-Coeur on Montmartre hill.

I was in heaven, almost, with my camera aimed below.  Yes, definitely below!  I can look below, but forget about looking up when I am at any level above the top of the tool shed.  I saw tourists taking pictures of each other from one level to another, and I nearly lost it, while Jim was not in sight to catch me!  We met two smiling southern ladies who agreed to take our picture to record the moment.powder5 My hair was stuck to my head, probably reacting to my brainwaves and trying to hold my foolish noggin in place. 

Then, Jim excitedly said we should go up the stairway to the elevator for the next level, like a kid ready to jump off the high-dive.  Oh, no!  Strike those thoughts.  My bladder was not ready, and I called for a pit stop.  Jim said he could go, too.  He did, but I didn’t!  The line for the ladies bathroom wrapped around forever, but the men’s had maybe two people in line.  Here’s a bit of tourist advice for the Eiffel Tower that you are likely not to find in tourist brochures, “Go, before you go!”  With my eyeballs floating and fear in my feet, I had to decide whether I would ascend with Mr. Fearless to the top.  I thought about those youngsters in the street, having fun and letting loose to enjoy the moment.  It was my time to rise above with nothing holding me back.  I stepped into the elevator, which by the way was an Otis elevator.  Remember that I work in construction, so I’m always looking to see how things are put together.  Good old, Otis!  Let’s climb to the top, keeping my eyes on Jim who was wearing my Cornerstone jacket, and not looking, or thinking, about what I am doing.  No, that isn’t sky out there, just a pretty shade of blue from a Sherwin Williams paint selection.”  I stepped into the first section which had glass windows, easy enough to just look below and think wide-screen television.  Just above was the challenge!  I hugged the wall until I adjusted, and then my Canon-camera-adrenaline kicked in with my lens stuck through the heavy-grid enclosure that safely keeps people from danger.powder7

When I adjusted to being on top of the world, I focused on the places I would like to settle into for a month or so.

When I adjusted to being on top of the world, I focused on the places I would like to settle into for a month or so.

 powder9powder13

DÔME CHURCH - The gleaming dome cannot be overlooked.  Napoleon lies in the crypt.  His final wishes were to "rest on the banks of the Seine"

DÔME CHURCH – The gleaming dome cannot be overlooked. Napoleon lies in the crypt. His final wishes were to “rest on the banks of the Seine”

I don’t know if it was the weight of my bladder, or the desire to capture the city of Paris below with my camera, but somehow I did conquer the top of the Eiffel Tower!  I still haven’t sent Jim a thank-you note.

Are you dreaming of Paris?  Just click here to see beautiful apartments ready for your visit.  Just take a look!  I have received a gracious invitation to write a story and share pictures for the blog: www.ILoveParisLife.com   Do you think I can handle it?  What subject should I select?  What would you like to see?  More of the street scenes?  What about Luxembourg Gardens?  Our boat ride on the Seine?powder12 As long as they don’t think better of having Jim and me over there on the pages of loving the Paris life, we will be eating biscuits here in Alabama and dusting off the computer for the next time.

I will show more photography on my Facebook later in the week. Thank you very much for your wonderful comments!  If you enjoy the blog and pictures, think about sharing the links with other cool and savvy folks like yourself. You are just the most wonderful folks in the world to us!

All photography is the property of Debbie Ambrous.

6 thoughts on ““Powder Express to the Eiffel Tower” – by Debbie Ambrous

  1. Go for it Miss Debbie we want more of your lovely visit to Paris. I don’t think I’ll ever get there so you’re sharing it with with all of us.

    • Dianna,
      Thanks for nudging me along. If you make it to Paris, and I believe you will, you will be thrilled. With only a few days, a person can experience enough to light up their eyes for a long time.

  2. Hi Debbie,

    Well done on making it to the top of ‘La Tour!’ It really is worth it, even if it’s just for the opportunity to zoom in on all those lovely Parisian roof-gardens! Quelle chance!
    The white powder thrown by the students was most likely flour, thrown about in flour-bombs to celebrate the end of the school term. There seems to be a bit of a tradition of flour-bombing here in France – Porter’s daughter, Coco, told me that every year on the last day of school, her high-school in Tours descends en masse upon the public and flour-bombs the living daylights out of them. There are even videos of previous years high-jinks available on YouTube (as if they needed any more encouragement). It must be something to do with their Revolutionarly spirits!
    I decided to google the terms ‘flour-bomb’ and ‘France’ just for fun and find that in running for the presidential elections in 2012, President Hollande was flour-bombed by a disgruntled member of the public.
    http://www.connexionfrance.com/Flour-bomb-Hollande-video-Paris-housing-London-13421-view-article.html
    I suppose it’s better than being egged!

    Thank you for this fun account
    We’re really looking forward to having you post with us on http://www.iloveparislife.com

    A tres bientot,
    Louise Taylor-Scott

    • Louise,
      Thanks for explaining the mystery white powder that we saw from the Parisian tour bus. Simply flour flying around in the air, who would have guessed? Lovers of bread and makers of the best bread in the world start their young lives celebrating in the streets covered in flour! Now, that is some tradition. I would say that it beats the Opp, Alabama students tradition of throwing toilet paper on trees and grass in the yards of citizens here in our small town. The yards are usually “rolled” around homecoming during football season. If they catch on to this story, maybe they will try flour or cornmeal instead. Thanks again for the explanation and give my regards to Coco, also.

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