The most visited monument (considering only the ones where you have to pay) in the world and the emblem of France. 7 million visitors pay the entrance every year and there’s no way to know how many more visit it without going up. There are extraordinary sites that are not world famous, but I still have not found a world famous site that is not worth seeing at least once. The tower, like Paris, worths more than one visit.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Built in 1889 on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition by the engineer who gave it his name, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. For 41 years it was highest structure in the world until the construction of the Chrysler Building, with its 324 meters is still today the highest in Paris. It generated much controversy among the artists of the time, as it was cosidered an iron monster. That was not the opinion among the general visitors, who where basically fascinated. After the exhibition however, the number of visitors declined, and its maintenance costs over the next few years became such a problem that it was close to be dismantled, but it was its excellent capacity as tower of telecommunications (still currently in use) what convinced the French government to keep it. Thanks to the rise in international tourism, visits increased progressively from 1963 to current data.
WHEN TO GO
No matter the time of year, but it is important the time of the day. Ideally, go up in the afternoon and wait for nightfall to see the city during day and night. At night, the tower is illuminated in orange light and every hour for 5 minutes, 20,000 flashes blink.
HOW TO GET THERE
The tower is next to the Seine south bank, where the Champ de Mars ends and in front of the Trocadero. The nearest RER stop is Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel. Underground stations are Bir Hakeim, Passy or Trocadero, all in line 6.
OPENING HOURS AND PRICES
Open daily from 9:30 to 23:00 September to May and 9:00 to 00:00 in summer time.
- Elevator to the 2nd floor: 11 €.
- Elevator to the top (3rd floor): 17 €.
- Stairs to the 2nd floor: 7 €. If you want to go up to the 3rd floor (in another elevator, as there are no stairs to the top) it’s 6 € more.
Tickets can be purchased online; date and time are printed, which is convenient to avoid two long lines: to buy the entrance and to go up in the elevator; to go on foot there’s no queue because few people do it. Guests can also arrange guided tours.
There are 4 restaurants in the tower:
|Les buffets||There are 3: explanade, 1st and 2nd floors.||The least expensive ones: simple food: pizza, sandwiches, cookies and drinks.||Acceptable.|
|58 Tour Eiffel||1st||They self define as “elegant brasserie”||Lunch starts at 41 €, dinner from 85 €.|
|Le Jules Verne||2nd||“Haute cuisine”||Lunch menu 105 €.|
|Bar a Champagne:||3rd||Just champagne.||From 13 € per glass.|
The Gustave Eiffel room, in the renovated first floor, is to rent for events. It sure is cheapie.
VISITING EIFFEL TOWER
Although it sounds cliché, I personally love the Eiffel Tower; it is a spectacular piece of engineering, and the views of Paris I think are the best. I’ve been up twice, the first day walking during the day, the second time late in the afternoon.
First of all, get to the ticket office or one of the access pillars if you already have your ticket. This seems patently obvious but it is not as easy as it used to be; until some months ago, you could wander freely around the base of the tower, but because of the unfortunate current terrorist threat, the entire base is fenced, and people have to queue and go through security arches before they can approach to the tower. It is one of my favorite areas, you can feel the true power that the tower gives off when you are under it, seems like you are an ant. Excellent photos can be taken from different angles.
Then you have to choose how to go up:
- On foot. Go south pillar. Always my preferred choice, although I admit it’s just climb up for sport, there are no better angles for pictures. 704 steps.
- Lift. There are 3, in north, east and west pillars.
Okay, we’re on the first and newly renovated floor: now most of the floor is made of glass. After admiring it, surely we will be willing to go to the second floor, because we think there will be better views, and they are. You have to change elevator, and therefore queue again.
The views from the second floor (115 meters high) are probably the best. It is high enough to see Paris, but you won’t be seeing the buildings too small.
To climb to the third floor you mandatory have to use the elevator. Keep in mind that, although not everyone goes up, elevators are small, and you may waste one hour in the queue.
From above the buildings are not appreciated the same well, but the panoramicview is more impressing.