Paris, Eiffel Tower, and the Brass Ring Scam

09 Nov.


The breakfast was very good at the Hotel with ample supplies fro everyone.

My goal was the Eiffel Tower. Out of the hotel, umbrellas in tow, we turned right and headed for Blvd. Lafayette, looking at the sights, list’n to the sounds and taking in the scents of Paris. Went to a bank machine and it didn’t work – funny how the banks have the international logos on the machines and they sometimes do not work for you. Bought a fireman’s Pompieres calendar from the firemen selling them on the street, raising funds for something.


Took the Metro, changed trains twice and voilà we were at the Eiffel Tower station.


The street was packed with tourists, we lined up to by tickets in the snake like coil that those fences make, and it started to rain. Up with the brollies till we entered the elevator. Top level was closed and the level we ascended to was wet and cold. Great view, even with the misting from the sky. The boys loved that they could slide with their new shoes on the metal grates above the people on the ground. They made a great effort to see who could slide closest to the edge of the tower.


The line up going down seemed longer than the one going up, so , we decided to descend the slippery steel staircase in the light drizzle. Down, down, down, the boys trying to race each other and jumping down steps. Do not try the steps if you have vertigo, they start off steep and short and as the tower widens towards the base the steps become wider and longer. The last section is a spiral that is steep and then you are at ground level. The elevator goes by you and the view is quite nice, even if you are surrounded by steel girders. If you need a toillete there is a free one under the tower with access via Rue??? FIND.


The Tourist French Café: Avoid unless you want to have a fun experience ( pre-knowledge is a good thing). This is a story of a café not too far from the Eiffel Tower. Things start off well during the seating, menus, and serving of drinks. The Boys have to decipher the menu and ask questions of what is this and what is that. The waiter comes back fairly quickly, in my mind as I have not had time to look at the menu thoroughly, and I say please give us 3 minutes more. Around 15 minutes later, as the waiter constantly walks by avoiding looking at our table and ignoring my Garçon and Monsiours I start to wonder if they want us at the restaurant at all. Finally the waiter comes over, takes our order. The food comes quickly, but neither the soup of the day nor the correct meal I ordered. The server corrects the meal, I didn’t ask about the soup.  The food was not very good at all and the name of the Café is Le Royal Tour, on Ave. de la Bourdonnais.


After lunch were walking by the Seine and an older gentleman looks towards us then quickly down to the ground. He walks over and picks up a gold wedding band looks at it then offers it to me. ( I know something is not right, so I play along to see where it will go). I accept the ring and start walking away with the ring and the boys. The man walks ahead, nods his head, swings around, walks back towards us looking at the ground where we have been and asks us for money for a sandwich in broken English. My Spidey senses are really tingling now. He keeps shaking my right hand where I have a silver ring, and every time he shakes with both his hands he tries to remove my ring- a real pro, but my ring sits tight. I give him all the change in my pocket, which amounts to maybe €4 + . He then asks me for papier money, I explain that I have none and am going to a Banc machine. He wants to come along. I say no and leave with the boys and the, at this time I knew, brass ring. The brass ring has stamps on the inside – I’ll look at them when I get home to see what they actually say- However the ring, as polished and heavy as it is has sharp edges on the inside- no Jeweller would allow this, and the size of the ring seems too small for the width. Anyhoo we then witnessed this scam 3 more times on the same day. Usually the tourists throw the ring back on the ground. Brass tube and pipe cutter anyone? I think they get the unsuspecting tourist on the ‘What if!’ idea. I have never had my hand shaken in this way either, so that’s how they do it!, It was a cold and rainy day and peoples fingers do contract due to the cold making the rings slide off more easily.


So now I have an original ‘tourist scam’ brass ring, I think? More entertaining and cheaper than some of the other touristy products.


Onward to the Arc de Triomphe! Then the Champs de Elyseé. The boys were tired and did not want to go inside the Arc. Towards the Isle and into the Hunchback of Nôtre Dame territory. Great cathedral, boys liked it and Brendan had a good laugh at the beggar outside talking to her husband, taking his change, placing it into a Gucci bag, then sitting on top of the bag and covering it with her dress and continue to beg for change.


Behind Nôtre Dame there is a park with a great saucer spiny thing that the boys rode for quite a while, surrounded by history, art, culture, and the boys have more fun and get recharged on a playground!


Back towards the Metro and back to the Hôtel. Dinner tonight was at a little café on Blvd. Magenta called Au Bout En Train. Very well priced, run by the same family for 30 years, and the daily specials are great. Served with an excellent Bordeaux I had moussaka and the boys had beef shish kabob with roasted tomatoes. All very scrumptious and reasonably priced.