La Tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower): Light and Fog

November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Even though I live in the 11th arrondisement of Paris, from my kitchen window I can see the bright white searchlight at the tip of La Tour Eiffel, across the Seine in the 7th arrondisement, cutting wide circles through the night sky. Yes the Eiffel Tower is a huge tourist draw, but it is also a truly stunning and beautiful example of technological imagination and architectural achievement. It is also often devoid of crowds and beautifully lit up at night, making it one of my favorite nighttime destinations.

Recently, when my friends were visiting, we took a night bike ride to the Tour. However, the night we chose turned out to be thick with fog, extra dark and wintery-looking, making it impossible to follow the searchlight to the Tour, which would be my usual way of arriving there.

I do know my way fairly well around Paris, but I also get lost on a very regular basis. Especially when I am on a bike. But fortunately, Paris is so dotted with memorable and unique landmarks, that it is usually pretty easy to get back on track. On top of that, if I am not in a hurry to get somewhere, the little side trips that result from my getting lost often lead me to stumble across places, buildings, parks, museums, that I might not have found otherwise.

But to get back to this foggy night in Paris, after biking in circles, in the wrong direction, and in a couple more circles, we finally arrived at Avenue de Suffren, which runs parallel to the Tour. The strange and disorienting thing was that we still could not see any lights. The soupy darkness gave the impression that either the Tour was not there, that we were lost in some alternate dimension, or that the lights were not turned on. Somehow it did not seem possible, that in reality, on a relatively mild November evening, the fog could be so dense and low that the Tour would simply be swallowed up.

Once we reached the base of the Parc du Champ de Mars, however, the lights began to shine through. And that bright searchlight, usually visible to me in my kitchen 9 or so kilometers away, was barely visible at the tippy top.

I think this was La Tour Eiffel at the most beautiful that I have ever seen it. Coming upon it that night was like discovering a secret, especially because so few people were there. Maybe most could not find it either…


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