"Oooh, je l'ai trouvé!" Le Petit stopped in the middle of the path in the Parc de Saint Cloud and pointed at the Eiffel Tower, which had just appeared through the trees as he rounded a corner. My husband -- I was at a cooking class, learning to make macarons; more on that later -- found it adorable. Back at the car, he asked le Petit if he wanted to go see the tower up close. He did, so they drove to the Champs de Mars, where le Petit ran around in circles so visibly consumed with joy that he caught the attention of a guy hawking souvenirs, who gave him a free souvenir key chain.
"Un bébé Tour Eiffel!" Le Petit showed it to me proudly when I got home. (A little later I made it disappear into a kitchen cabinet, since it had found its way into le Petit's mouth, like just about everything else these days.)
In le Petit's hierarchy of architectural marvels, the Eiffel Tower reigns. When it disappears behind buildings as we drive around Paris' ring highway, le Petit starts to cry. He also recognizes the Tour Montparnasse, the unattractive dull black skyscraper that lurks behind the Eiffel Tower in its 1970s asbestos-infused glory. "Tourbanasse!" he announces when he sees it. I correct him, sometimes, without insisting too much, because I find his mispronunciation the only thing endearing about the structure.
Today I showed le Petit a book of photos of Western Washington. His favorite photos were of Seattle's skyline, and he easily identified the Space Needle.
"That's the Space Needle!" he told me, "Et derrière, ça c'est la tour Eiffel, et ça c'est la Tourbanasse." He pointed at the buildings behind the Space Needle, convinced he could find his favorite Parisian landmarks.
We build mini Eiffel Towers out of Legos at home, some almost as tall as le Petit, others small enough to fit on the back of a Duplo construction truck. Sometimes the Lego men scale the top. This weekend, if the weather is clear and the lines of tourists aren't too long, we'll take le Petit to the top of the real thing.