Going Up In Paris
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
At le Bourget you can do it in an aeroplane.
In the Métro, you can mount without any effort from beneath the earth to a third-story level on the via-ducts.
Both these methods are for persons without initiative. The true adventure is to go on foot up all the columns and towers some lighted, some dark which are open to you. And then, that done, to climb the "buttes," Mont-martre and Belleville, where, at the Reservoir, you are at the highest point in Paris. The rue du Telegraphe is the highest street in town. Butte Chaumont, Montparnasse these are not too Alpine for a beginner. Yet I suggest for order's sake that you commence by climbing the rue de la Montagne St Geneviève; that is a street which begins at the Place Maubert and the boulevard St Germain. You will have the added joy of knowing that you are climbing a path which the Romans followed. You will be going up in space and back in time simultaneously.
Once at the top, where there used to be a pagan altar, you will find the Panthéon. You can keep right on going up: first the 11 outside steps, and then the 139 to the roof. From there mount the 192 steps to the first plat-form of the dome and the 94 up to the lantern. The view is worth it.
After you get your breath, try the tower of Notre-Dame; its top is only 223 feet above the street, and there are only 397 steps to mount !
On the Right Bank, the July Column (Colonne de Juillet) in the Place de la Bastille has 328 steps to its 160 feet. And while you are going around and around inside, you can meditate upon the fact that the entire column weighs only 170 tons.
There are stairs within the meager circumference of the Vendôme Column and others of a shaky sort in the Tour St Jacques, but visitors are not allowed to ascend in either place. There is, however, the Arc de Triomphe; but your disappointment will be bitter, for you can mount the 153 feet to the ledge in an elevator. We are in the Etoile district! The same fate permits you to loll up to the tower of the Trocadéro, 270 feet high. But the view makes the lapse interesting enough.
You may discover other towers; you may discover that I have not counted the steps correctly. I make no apology. I suggest another enterprising promenade upon those streets which boast staircases or are nothing but a staircase, as that rue Arthur Rozier which runs, stony and steep, from the rue de Crimée to the Butte Chaumont. Walk around the bottom of that hill and you will find it.
There is the rue des Degrés (which means "steps") connecting the rue de Beauregard with the rue Cléry, near the Porte St Denis. Behind the Square Montholon on the rue Lafayette, there is a flight of stairs to the rue de Bellefond. Passy has a few steps from the Quai de Tokio to the avenue President Wilson; it has the stairs at the Viaduct, good for digestive climbing. Belleville has many staircases in unexpected places. And, best of all, Montmartre has sixteen flights at its back.
Keep the Eiffel Tower until the last: there you can walk up the first 333 steps, but after that you must ride. From there you can get a relief-map idea of Paris, and when you get back home, do away with the idea that Paris is a town on the level.