Originally built as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower has since become one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. Instead of being dismantled at the end of the fair, it remained because it was so useful as a radio broadcasting tower, and the people of Paris just loved it!
We visited La Tour Eiffel on our visit to Paris, just because going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower is like visiting Italy and not eating pizza, or visiting the Alps and not seeing snow – it’s just one of those things you have to do! So we got off the train at Bir-Hakeim and followed the crowds towards the tower. We passed many people selling little tourist-trap trinkets and after a short walk the tower loomed into sight. In an attempt to avoid the crowds (crazily!), we took what we thought might be a short cut through a small park. There were hardly any people in the park, and we had a stunning, uninterrupted view of the tower in tranquil surroundings. We passed a cute, little pond and arrived underneath the landmark.
And then we saw the queue. I feel like calling it a queue just doesn’t do it justice. I think people were spending longer in that queue than I spend sleeping at night. It seemed to go on forever, and didn’t seem to be moving a great deal. So we gave up hope of joining the queue, moved away and walked down the Champ de Mar to soak up the views of the iconic structure.
We took a few photos with the tower, before continuing with our day by visiting the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. Come evening, we thought it’d be a good idea to try ascending the tower again, as we didn’t have long left in the city. So a short train ride later, and we were again faced with the queues under the tower. This time however, they were about ¼ of the size they had been earlier. Well, we thought, why not? So we joined the queue, and a mere 45 minutes later we’d picked up our tickets and were boarding the lift.
Something to mention is that there are 2 ways to ascend the tower – a lift or stairs. Yes, stairs. Not surprisingly, the queue for the stairs is a great deal shorter than that for the lift, and if you think you can tackle the hundreds of steps then it’d definitely be worth it. There is a grand total of 1710 steps to the top of the tower, and before they installed lifts over 30,000 visitors climbed to the top of the tower. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to climb all the way to the top, but you have got the option of tackling just over 300 steps to the first level, and the same again to the second level. Gustave Eiffel, who the tower was named after, actually had an apartment on the top level, so I imagine he had to climb those stairs fairly often. Imagine if he just needed to pop out for a pint of milk…
We bought a joint ticket for the tower, which meant we had the standard access to level 1 and 2, and we also had access to the top, level 3. We jumped in the spacious lift, and ascended straight to level 2. After a quick look around, we bought a postcard then joined the queue for the lift to level 3. It was quite a wait, and it was during this wait that we found out that the tower sparkles on the hour, every hour at night. The people in front of us in the queue were slightly intoxicated, and someone mistook them for Sy, the singer of Gangnam Style. Cue half an hour of a drunk Asian man singing and dancing, but hey, it was late and funny as anything so time passed quickly! As we got to the lift and showed our tickets, it turned out the drunken Asian man didn’t even have a ticket and had spent nearly 45 minutes queuing for nothing.
The lift to the top level is a lot smaller than the first, and more like a lift you’d find in a supermarket. As we ascended, the tower sparkled again! I’m not scared of heights, but on that top level you definitely get a feel of just how high it is up there. We’d been up Montparnasse Tower during the day, and now we had a night view of Paris with the landmarks lit up and river cruises below us. It was getting rather late at this point, so we decided that after the short walk around the top, we’d join the queue to head back down. As we looked for the stairway exit on level 2, we spotted a portal where you could see all the way down through the middle of the tower.
By the time we’d made it down to level 1, pretty much everything was closed as it was past midnight. If we’d been there earlier in the day it would have been nice to spend a bit of time there, as there are plenty of restaurants to try. Down a further 300 steps and we made it back to ground level. It was about half 12 by this point, and it had taken us about 15 minutes to walk down the stairs from level 2 to the ground floor. I’d hate to think how long it’d take to climb up, but I’ve promised my boyfriend next time we’re there we’ll take the stairs up.
As we made our way back to the hotel, we strolled along Champ de Mars. There were couple everywhere, and as we stopped for a photo there were 3 couples near us that had just gotten engaged. We continued on, and saw lots of people chilling out on the gardens that are fenced off during the day, all waiting patiently to watch the tower sparkle. Unfortunately, as we arrived at the perfect vantage point, we realised we were going to miss what we thought was the last train home, so had to dash to find the metro station.
The Eiffel Tower was a great evening well spent, and next time we’re in Paris we’ll definitely go up during the day, come down about dusk and chill out in the gardens of Champ de Mar with a few Parisian pastries for dinner.
- The tower is painted lighter at the bottom to give the effect that the tower is the same colour.
- The height can vary 15cm depending on the weather.
- 50-60 tonnes of paint is applied every 7 years to protect the tower from rust.
- If you want to get the best of both worlds, take the lazy option and get the lift up the tower, and the stairs down.
- If you want to go right to the top, you’re better off getting a joint ticket before you ascend.
- The best tip I can offer is this: buy a ticket in advance! It’ll save you so much time queueing.
- Make sure you charge your camera before you go, there are so many great photo ops!
- Closest metro stations are Bir-Hakeim or Champ de Mars. For views on approach, head to Trocadero or Ecole Militaire.