The Paris icon, the Eiffel Tower, is the most visited site in Paris and the best view over the ‘City of Lights’. A first visit isn’t complete without going up ‘Le Tour Eiffel’.
As you join the other 6 million visitors per year, you can choose to visit three different levels. Up to the top at over 300 meters, there are Stages 1 and 2 that you can reach via the steps or a lift and Stage 3 at the top via lift only. If you decide to skip the queues and save a little money by taking the stairs, you get to exercise over 680 steps. There are two restaurants in the tower and even an ice skating rink on the first stage since 2004. Another way to skip the queue is to dine at the tower's Altitude 95 restaurant (tel: 01-45-55-20-04), an Eiffel restaurant on the first stage, management allows patrons to cut to the head of the line.
In the Eiffel Tower you will find restaurant Altitude 95, souvenir shops, an ice rink in winter, and a post office (look out for the special ‘Paris Eiffel Tower’ stamps) on Stage 1. Stage 2 has telescopes, shops and the extremely expensive Jules Verne Restaurant (tel: 01-45-55-61-44). Stage 3 has the view you’ve no doubt come for. On a clear day you can see for 64km (40 miles).
When to go
Any time of the year is good, but clear spring weather would add to the romance.
Opening hours in winter are 9.30 am-11 pm. Summer hours are 9 am- 12pm.
If you to the tower during the night, just before the hour (eg. 10 pm or 11pm), the Eiffel tower will sparkle for a full ten minutes for you. If that's not enough, hang out at the Trocadero cafes till 2am and something near magical will happen: The lights of the tower will be switched off and the sparkly lights will twinkle magically for 10minutes. It's quite a spectacle!
Probably the best approach to the tower is to take the Métro to the Trocadéro station & walk from the Palais de Chaillot to the Seine. Besides great views, especially when the Trocadéro fountains are in full force, you get a free show from the dancers & acrobats who perform around the Palais de Chaillot. The vast green expanse beneath the tower is the Parc du Champs-de-Mars.
Going all the way
Some visitors believe it’s not worth spending the extra few Euros to go all the way up the tower. It is certainly worth it, the view is absolutely stunning. And, after all, you’ve spent hundreds of Euros getting to Paris, what are another four?
Tips for visitors
- Go up to Stage 3, the view is worth it
- There’s a phone up at Stage 3; call someone at home and say you’re calling from the Eiffel Tower!
- Skip the queues and save a few Euros by taking the stairs to Stage 2
- Go during sunset to see Paris during dusk and at night
- If you lie down on the ground under the Eiffel Tower, you'll get a cool feeling of vertigo
More about the Eiffel Tower
The tower was built by French engineer Gustave-Alexandre Eiffel for the 1889 International Exhibition of Paris. It commemorates the French Revolution. At the time, it was the highest monument in the world! Le Tour Eiffel was never meant to be permanent and was nearly town down a few years after the exhibition. In the end it was saved by the invention of radio as it makes a great communication tower with a height of 318 meters. Today it is used as a television broadcast tower in addition to drawing the tourists in. The tower weighs 10,100 tonnes and is made of 15,000 pieces fitted together by 2,500,000 rivets.
While the full tower stands over 300 meters, the landings are at 57.63 meters (189 ft) for Stage 1. Stage 2 reaches 115.73 meters (379 ft) and offers a panoramic look at this, France's most picturesque, city. Stage 3 tops out at 276.13 meters (905 feet, 11 inches).
Photos by Larry Johnson (1) and Bob Hall (2) on flickr
You should follow me on twitter here.