City of light, city of art, city of memories to my wife and myself. To tell you all the truth I had been working in Marseille for some years and didn’t like it much, I preferred the north parts of France such as Cherburg and Le Havre. I was sure that I had seen it all and that I could cast my vote for the rest of France at an average of 7 out of 10. I thought that most probably Paris was some overrated similar place to any other big city. Well little did I know how mistaken I was, and what was in store for me once I got there.
To start I must say that I was never
so mistaken about a place as much as I with the regards to Paris. The People are helpful and unlike what many may think some of them can speak English (and in fact I think they speak it better than the Americans). They are proud of their Capital and who wouldn’t be, with such a place so full of everything. Paris is a city which is full of diversity, starting with the tourists that visit it, to the arts exposed in it, continuing with the architecture and design that it has been adorned with. Simplicity is key and no one has done that better than the French to integrate modern design with the all ready rich architectural gem that Paris is.
Paris is not only about the iconic world renowned monuments, there is some thing in the air that induces romance, love and tenderness.
I think that it’s due to the silence, unlike many other cities Paris is very silent, and I only noticed that about it now. You know, having been to other cities you can remember the scents, noise and light of the place and that’s one thing that comes to me… Paris is silent. Even the metro is an unexpectedly silent place other than for the buskers which one meets on the way.
The Metro, WoW! It might be because I come from a country where we do not have one but as soon as you get to enter the Metro I just feel like Alice in wonderland falling into the rabbit hole. It’s like a city in its own right. The never ending entwining tunnels, the meticulously designed and decorated stations (who needs to get out of the station once you get such a summary down below of what’s up above?). Even the advertising campaigns are different.
I love street photography but I have developed something else that has to fall under a different subject altogether. One might even call it “rail photography”. Like in the shot above and the one below.
I could not hold myself when I saw this. I cannot forget the moment. I had been looking for such situations all through my stay. I had always wondered how other photographers achieved such shots. Had they planned them? Stayed there until the right situation came along?
Well in my case I was on the way to the airport, the train had come to a standstill and there we were. My eye saw the advert, the man below, my finger was on the camera trigger even before I could think about it. I brought the camera to my eye and there it was. I could see the guy giving me bad looks as if he wanted to kill me but the comfort of knowing that he was on the other side of the rails , that my train was about to leave, well that gave me the courage to keep on shooting. I am sure that his memories of that day have long gone forgotten and I am sure that he couldn’t justify me shooting him, little did he know that if he looked above his shoulders he would have see that I wasn’t the only one with the camera pointed at him.
But other than the Metro, which personally will always be my preferred means of transport around Paris, you can also find these bikes all over the city. Unlike the hustle and bustle of the bike culture in Amsterdam these have a French touch to them, maybe because of the way they are stacked, the bike design itself, it might also be the colour or even the green light on the recharging station (although I have no idea why it has to be recharged.)
Walking is also a very possible and encouraged means of transport. I have no idea why people should opt to use a car in Paris (I wouldn’t even justify buying one). Every metro station is within walking distance from one another so that even the laziest pedestrian can be comforted by the knowledge that rescue is just a few meters ahead of them, wherever they are.
So after all this walking, up and down around this city, after all the sight-seeing and after all the museums there is nothing more to do but to enroll in the Parisian love club. And there is no other place in Paris where one can feel the heartwarming feelings that Paris emits than on the world-renowned Tour Eiffel.
I think little did Mr Eiffel know what he was about to do when he presented his plans to the city council for his brand new top design for the radio antenna in the middle of Paris.
I think that he could hardly imagine the view from up there, the effect the tower has on the city, the iconic value of his tower to the city of light (and to the hawkers and hustlers selling all kind of memorabilia of the tower itself).
Little did he know how his massive tower was about to change my life and that of many others who have gone down my same road. Mind you little did I know the consequences of such a choice.
Thinking about it now it feels funny, most probably there have been so many people on that top platform than people visiting my home town in the same period of time. So many different nationalities have been up the same lift, for as many different reasons, but how many of them have been there with the same intentions as mine?
Well it had to be me to choose a tower of steel
that’s made up of:
Number of iron structural components in tower 15,000
Number of rivets 2,500,000
Weight of foundations 306 tons (277,602 kilograms)
Weight of iron 8,092 tons (7,341,214 kilograms)
Weight of elevator systems 1,042 tons (946,000 kilograms)
Total weight 9,441 tons (8,564,816 kilograms)
Pressure on foundations 58-64 pounds per square inch(4-4.5 kilograms per square centimeter), depending on pier
Height of first platform 189 feet (58 meters)
Height of second platform 379 feet 8 inches (116 meters)
Height of third platform 905 feet 11 inches (276 meters)
Total height in 1889 985 feet 11 inches (300.5 meters)
Total height with television antenna 1,052 feet 4 inches (320.75 meters)
Number of steps to the top 1,671
Maximum sway at top caused by wind 4.75 inches (12 centimeters)
Maximum sway at top caused by metal dilation 7 inches (18 centimeters)
Size of base area 2.54 acres (10,282 square meters)
Dates of construction January 26, 1887 to March 31, 1889
Cost of construction 7,799,401.31 francs ($1,505,675.90)
to finally ask her the following question:
which was also the answer to my question,
it was worth the climb up to Paris’s highest point
and that is why Paris has so much of an added value to me, my wife and my daughter.
That’s why I keep returning to the same place over and over again.
And that is why I feel that I have to thank you, Mr Eiffel, for your tower.