Near the Louvre, the Grand Roue (Large Wheel) provides incredible views of the city. Yesterday, in the midst of cold and rain, we walked the Champs–Élysées from the L’Arc de Triomphe to the grounds of the Louvre, which we plan to visit on Wednesday.
Maybe because of the rain — or people smarter than we are who were concerned about lightening — the lines were minuscule. We paid the fare of 25€ for two tickets and climbed aboard. Here are views of Paris on a rainy day in April:
In the U.S. we’d call this a Ferris Wheel. It received this name because one was built by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Interestingly, it was intended to rival the newly-built Eiffel Tower, which had been the main attraction of the 1889 Paris Exposition. These contraptions are also known as Observation Wheels or Pleasure Wheels and were introduced to the United States by a Frenchman in 1848.
The earliest versions were powered by men turning massive cranks. It’s hardly a new idea — a structure like it was described in a volume of stories about King Arthur (The Death of Arthur) that dates to 1220. In that story it’s called The Wheel of Fortune. We saw a tourist map yesterday that called it the Louvre Wheel.