Today is special. We have a unique tour of the Eiffel Tower which includes a visit to the bunker, the elevator machine room, and a walk on the roof of the restaurant on the second level.
We met at the statue of Gustav Eiffel. Our guide was dressed in an aviator costume complete with goggles and a parachute on his back. He introduced himself as an aviator and told the story of how he saw and fell in love with a beautiful American girl who he only knew to him as “Citron” or Lemony. It turned out that she saw him too and instantly fell in love. But they were separated and she needed to find her aviator. So, she beseeched the radio station that was broadcasting from the Eiffel Tower to send her voice over the airwaves calling to her love. The station kindly connected and she called for him. He flew to her side by parachuting from a plane and landed in the field just in front of the tower. This was in about 1921. Our guide enacted the story with actor skills and pantomime prowess. We “flew” to the bunker to see how during war Paris was defended and how important radio was back then. Lemony and the aviator were married and by 1932 had a son Joseph. Now Lemony, had been with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum Bailey Circus and was a tight rope walker before running off with the love of her life.
But WWII was on its way and our lovers shipped their son off to a safer part of France while being a part of the resistance. Lemony, using her circus skills, attempted to scale the tower to replace the Nazi flag with the flag of France. But she was caught at the second level, but managed to escape (under the not so watchful eye of a young German Captain).
We leave the story of the fated lovers and our guide is transformed into the engineer at the elevator machine complex. He, now dressed differently, shows the huge cylinders that power the elevators using hydraulics. It is amazing how the system is a perfect example of French engineering that combines function with artistic design. We emerge from the machine room and experience the lift we have just see in action. In tribute to the brave operators of the past (before automation in 1986), there is a statue of the elevator operator who sat outside the elevator car in all kinds of weather to adjust the pressures that moved the car up or down.
At the second level, we emerged to view all of Paris from an ideal position atop the restaurant (where there were no other tourists). We then were told the remainder of the love story. Lemony is now 100 years old and her son is 70. Her aviator has passed away, but the novel he wrote about their life together is a lasting tribute to their lasting love and devotion. Our guide then intoned a song (in French) to bring this amazing tour to a close.
Tom and Anne then descended the 720 steps to the ground taking in the views of the surrounding area and the magnificent engineering of the tower. The tower was built in just over 2 years and financed by Eiffel himself who recouped the 74,000,000 Euro cost in only 6 months.
We then walked off to the Rue Cler street market nearby and bought the ingredients for dinner. Tom prepared a great meal back at the apartment of salmon, rice (brought from home in a tupperware), salad, and dessert from a bakery shop.