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