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Basilica of Sacre Coeur, Paris

A well-earned view of the City of Light
A well-earned view of the City of Light

After a few days in Paris, I was ready to explore something out of the ordinary with my family. We'd done the Eiffel Tower (so over it). Stared at the stern statues on the Notre Dame. And while the Sacre Coeur church, just around the corner from our apartment, was certainly on the top 10 for tourists, my son and I found a little something extra.

Wandering around the side of the 125-year-old church, we found a sign enticing us to mount the steps to the top of the dome. We were promised a magnifique view of the city.

And in small words, just beyond the turnstile: "Caution: There are 300 steps to the top. If you're not up for it, don't bother. You'll regret it." At least that's what the sign said in my mind's eye.

After a brief moment's hesitation, we paid our Euros to the machine (no friendly guide to warn us) and began our mount.

For a while, our pace was good. My son was six, so he nimbly mounted. But soon we slowed – in part because 300 stairs is a lot. But it's even more of a climb when they're a bit icy from the Parisian winter. And no, they don't have employees who kindly melt the ice for you on the four-inch-wide stairs. It's not that kind of country.

Soon we caught up with the tourists ahead of us, and others trailed us. We were in it together. Dead or alive.

What seemed like eons later, we emerged onto the terrace around the dome. The view was, indeed, magnifique. Once I was able to catch my breath and loosen up the stitch in my side, I was able to appreciate it.

We could see chimneys popping up out of houses, their smoke curling lazily into the sky. The Eiffel Tower greeted us from a few miles away. The entire city was bathed in a blue haze that’s only enhanced by my romantic memory.

I've seen the city from many vantage points, but this by far was my favorite.

If only they'd install an elevator.

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A well-earned view of the City of Light
A well-earned view of the City of Light

After a few days in Paris, I was ready to explore something out of the ordinary with my family. We'd done the Eiffel Tower (so over it). Stared at the stern statues on the Notre Dame. And while the Sacre Coeur church, just around the corner from our apartment, was certainly on the top 10 for tourists, my son and I found a little something extra.

Wandering around the side of the 125-year-old church, we found a sign enticing us to mount the steps to the top of the dome. We were promised a magnifique view of the city.

And in small words, just beyond the turnstile: "Caution: There are 300 steps to the top. If you're not up for it, don't bother. You'll regret it." At least that's what the sign said in my mind's eye.

After a brief moment's hesitation, we paid our Euros to the machine (no friendly guide to warn us) and began our mount.

For a while, our pace was good. My son was six, so he nimbly mounted. But soon we slowed – in part because 300 stairs is a lot. But it's even more of a climb when they're a bit icy from the Parisian winter. And no, they don't have employees who kindly melt the ice for you on the four-inch-wide stairs. It's not that kind of country.

Soon we caught up with the tourists ahead of us, and others trailed us. We were in it together. Dead or alive.

What seemed like eons later, we emerged onto the terrace around the dome. The view was, indeed, magnifique. Once I was able to catch my breath and loosen up the stitch in my side, I was able to appreciate it.

We could see chimneys popping up out of houses, their smoke curling lazily into the sky. The Eiffel Tower greeted us from a few miles away. The entire city was bathed in a blue haze that’s only enhanced by my romantic memory.

I've seen the city from many vantage points, but this by far was my favorite.

If only they'd install an elevator.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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