Eiffel Tower in December

 

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There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris ~ Ernest Hemmingway

When you think of Paris, the Eiffel Tower has to be the first thing that comes to mind. My mom and I planned a trip to Paris and London in 2014 and had an amazing time running all over the place. I truly believe that you will never regret making memories through travel with the ones that you love. First stop, Eiffel Tower!! After all, it is the one of the top recognized structures of the world and the most visited monument with almost 7 million people per year. After touring Paris in the winter, le croissant and French onion soup are a close second! The Eiffel Tower, named after Gustave Eiffel, is built of wrought iron and located on Champs de Mars. The iconic tower was built from 1887-1889 for the World’s Fair.

Upon checking into our hotel, located on George 5th, the Eiffel tower was located to the right a couple of blocks down. We were fortunate enough to be able to walk to the tower during the day and at night, walking anywhere in December can be bone chilling cold.

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A quote from one of my favorite movies, Sabrina~ “La Vie En Rose: It means seeing life through rose colored glasses, but only in Paris where the light is pink”

As you can see, in the picture above, the Eiffel Tower in December is often surrounded by gray clouds, blistery cold wind and rain or mist. The tower stands 1,063 ft tall, which equates to an 81-story building, making it the tallest building in Paris. As the elevator takes passengers to the observation deck, it can be a little scary looking down. If you are afraid of heights as my mom is, close your eyes. At one time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world and remained such for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York was built in 1930. The Eiffel Tower is the second tallest building in France.

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View from the lift

As we reached the site of the Eiffel Tower, I was taken aback by the number of guards carrying automatic weapons pacing back and forth, of course this was in 2014. I was familiar with high levels of security as well as police in the United States at touristy areas, but couldn’t remember at that time seeing military with semi-automatic weapons. I wasn’t sure if I felt safer or if it made me more aware? The picture above on the left is standing on the observation deck and the picture to the right is standing in line.

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The tower has three levels which visitors can explore. The first & second levels have restaurants while the upper level, also known as the observation deck (906 feet high), is a fantastic place to take pictures. If you love to climb, tickets are available for visitors to access the tower via stairs. Keep in mind it takes 300 steps to reach the first level. No thanks! I could barely climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but then again those stairs are leaning. We opted to take the elevator (lift) complete with large glass, viewing windows.

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View from the top

$$ Saving Tips~ There are several different modes of transportation to/from the Eiffel Tower. Check with the concierge if you are staying at a hotel or preview a map. We walked from our hotel. It is not necessary to book a tour of the Eiffel Tower, but may be convenient if you are traveling with an elderly family member or small children to ensure less walking, waiting and standing. Many of the tour companies pre-pay the tickets to bypass standing in the line. Some of the tours include dinner at the restaurant within the tower. Others tack on sailing the Seine River. If traveling in the winter, there isn’t a need to purchase the fast pass Eiffel Tower tickets because the lines are short. Save your money and purchase the regular ticket. It was a total of 20 minutes from the time we stood in line until we were at the top of the tower.

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The Best Thing About Paris~ le Croissant

“Until I discovered cooking, I was never really interested in anything” ~ Julia Child

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Chocolate Croissant ~ Paris

IMG_5506Blog posts are inspired by so many different things. Sometimes, it’s just a picture that I reflect on. This post was inspired by a picture and then the memory of one food item. Travel is as much about food and aroma as it is sights and sounds. In fact, food is a huge part of traveling for me. When I think of Paris in December, it draws on the memory of freshly baked croissants, hot out of the oven in a small pâtisserie tucked away in an alley. I had visited Europe in May and September but never in the winter. Paris is very cold in December, even snowing the day we went to Reims. As we roamed the streets, nothing sounded better than a hot coffee, croissant and French onion soup. I think we lived off of these three items for a week!! What more do you need? A hot croissant is not complete without a coffee or espresso!

I am going to assume that everyone has enjoyed a hot croissant at one point in time. They are buttery, flakey and well-known for their crescent shape. Viennoiserie are puffy pastries that have been around since before the middle ages, made of a layered yeast with lots and lots of butter. Croissants should be light and airy not heavy and greasy. Everyone has had that hard, store-bought, greasy croissant at a banquet or conference and they are terrible! The key is eating them while they are fresh. Croissants are a popular item featured at Continental breakfasts. I have had the pleasure of dining at many high-end, five star restaurants and hotels and trust me when I say- nothing is better than a fresh croissant from a corner pâtisserie. If you go to Paris, you must try a freshly baked croissants. Rather than purchasing a croissant from the case at the pâtisserie, we chose to wait for the hot ones to come out of the oven, resulting in the picture below. Bliss! It’s equivilent to drinking chianti in Italy or paella in Spain~ a must. While in Rome…..

Interesting facts~ Making croissants are rather labor intensive and time-consuming. In the 1970’s, factories started making frozen, pre-formed dough which can be baked at home or by fast food outlets. This process is called croissanterie, which is completely Americanized. Today, 30–40% of the croissants sold in patisseries are made from frozen dough.

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Best croissant of my life! Paris, France

Usually when I blog about food, I attach a recipe at the bottom. When it comes to croissants I couldn’t find an “easy” recipe from scratch. Most of the recipes involved multiple days and anything over a couple of hours is not defined as “easy” in my book. For those of you who are craving a croissant and are willing to tackle this, I have posted a recipe which claims to only take 45 minutes just for you. Have at it! I will attempt this recipe at some point in time for myself and post a picture. Please feel free to post a picture in the comment section if you are brave enough to try this recipe. I challenge you!

Ingredients

  • 1 package yeast (2 & 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1cup warm water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3 1cups flour, about
  • 1 cup real butter
  • 1 egg white (beaten until frothy)

Directions

Proof the yeast in the warm water and set aside.

Beat egg yolks,stir in warm milk,sugar,salt, yeast mixture,and 2/3 cup of the flour.

Beat until smooth and set aside.

Cut butter into remaining flour until particles are the size of LARGE PEAS.

Pour in yeast mixture.

Mix lightly with a spatula just until flour is moistened.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

IT MUST BE COLD.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly.

Divide into thirds.

Roll each into 16 inch diameter circle and cut into 12 pie shaped wedges.

Roll wedges starting at the wide end.

Place point side down on a greased baking sheet.

Cover with towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled.

Brush each with beaten egg white.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve warm or re-heat in low oven– not microwave.

Makes 36 small, but you can make as big as you want.

The recipe is courtesy of Barb Gertz at food.com and can be found at http://www.food.com/recipe/too-easy-croissants-72309