It was a random Tuesday in October and my darling husband had taken us back to Paris for my birthday. We had only been previously in summer and spring. The city had a different feel; a touch of melancholy, more quiet, but — as always — absolute magic. We like to stay near the Eiffel Tower and on our first evening as we were walking by I looked up and snapped this picture with my iPhone. I am so proud of this shot. The moon was full and my favorite color blue was emanating from the Eiffel Tower like a welcoming beacon. I noticed the whole thing was lit up differently but had no idea why. Since it was autumn it was darker much earlier. In summer it does not get fully dark until around eleven at night. We enjoy revisiting our favorite places in Paris but the experiences are always different. Going up the tower at night gave us a new perspective. On that note, when we went down to the first floor I could not help but notice practically every adult looked absolutely PETRIFIED. They all seemed to be shuffling with a stiff, sideways gait like crabs almost too scared to move. This was around the time selfie sticks were just becoming popular and I also wondered why there were all these teenagers reclining on the ground taking pictures of themselves. Aside from the self-absorption that seems to accompany those years, regardless of the country of origin, I could not understand why they were all on their backs. And then it hit me. I looked down and realized with no small degree of shock that we were standing on a brand new addition … which was ALL SHEER GLASS. On our previous trip to Paris a year and a half earlier we saw the construction but had no idea what was going on. And now, of all the times; of all the days, it turned out we had fortuitously and inadvertently stumbled upon the debut of the first change made to the iconic tower since its opening in 1889 as the entrance to the World’s Fair. This was the first time in 125 years the most visited landmark in the world had made any change. And I could not believe we were actually witnessing its history making opening! Looking down, one could clearly see people milling around 187 feet below. I stared in rapt fascination underneath my feet while visitors from all over the world surrounded us literally clinging to the walls. Gustave Eiffel, the creator of “the Iron Lady,” once said:
“Can one think that because we are engineers, beauty does not preoccupy us or that we do not try to build beautiful, as well as solid and long lasting structures? Aren’t the genuine functions of strength always in keeping with unwritten conditions of harmony? … Besides, there is an attraction, a special charm in the colossal to which ordinary theories of art do not apply.”
Maybe the glass of champagne I’d had 189 feet at the top had added to my courage. Maybe I had such a deep love for La Tour Eiffel it superseded my normal fears. Whatever the case, I was so incredibly grateful that we were actually there — despite the lack of any announcements in the media anywhere — for opening day.