Seeing the Iconic Eiffel Tower
Standing at 1,063 feet tall, the Eiffel Tower was originally designed to be only temporary structure. Today, it is one of the most iconic structures of the world.
Located in central Paris, the Eiffel Tower is named after its engineer Gustave Eiffel who constructed it as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair.
The wrought iron lattice tower is on every tourist's bucket list of places to visit in Paris. It attracts more visitors than any other paid attraction in the world at over seven million visitors a year. Found within the Champ de Mars just off the Seine River, the Eiffel Tower provides a wonderful panoramic view over much of central Paris.
The Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world at the time of its inauguration in March 1889. Over 18,000 iron pieces and 2.5 million rivets were used in its construction which lasted over two years. It wasn't until 1930 when the Chrysler Building in New York City surpassed it in height.
The structure was nearly torn down in 1909, but was saved after city officials recognized its value as a radio telegraph station. It was used to intercept enemy radio communications during World War I. During World War II, Hitler initially ordered its destruction, but the order was never carried out.
The four base pillars are oriented with the four points of a compass and stand 410 feet apart. The tower atop the structure was lit by gaslight until 1909. These days, 336 spotlights illuminate the Eiffel Tower at night. It remains a key communications link as over 120 antennas are atop its tower.
The tower has three levels that can accessed by visitors, but only the second level was originally open to the public.
Restaurants are located in on the first two levels. Le 58 Tour Eiffel is located on the first level and the gourmet restaurant Le Jules Verne is located on the second level. Le Jules Verne also has its own elevator located in the south pillar.
The first level is 189 feet above ground and includes an observatory, souvenir shops, and a post office with special “Paris Eiffel Tower” stamps. Sometimes, a skating rink is located on this level. A recent addition is the transparent floor in which you can see the ground below you. Touch screens and an immersion show are also at this level.
The second level is around 380 feet and provides a great view of the surrounding area. Telescopes and shops can also be found here as well as Le Jules Verne and a modern buffet. The climb from the first level to the second level is also over 300 steps long. Three lifts in the north, east, and west pillar and take you up to the first two levels. The other option is taking the 704 steps up to the second level. It is suggested to use the steps to go back down while enjoying the scenery from all angles.
The top level's upper platform stands at 906 feet above the ground, the highest accessible public place with in the European Union. This is where Gustove Eiffel had a small apartment to entertain guests. There are lifelike wax figures of him and some of his notable guests on display. Two elevators from the second level can carry you to the top level. Also, there are panoramic maps and a champagne bar on the top level.
The ground floor also has a buffet as well as cash dispensers. Naturally, there are souvenir shops here as well. There are several elevators to take and you can even view the vast machinery that powers them in the basement of the eastern and western pillars.
The City of Paris now owns the Eiffel Tower. Every seven years, the structure gets a complete paint job to help restore it.
The nearest Paris Metro station is Bir-Hakeim off of Line No. 6. Taking this route gives you a view of the Eiffel Tower upon approach. The nearest RER rapid transit station is Line C to the Champs de Mars-Eiffel Tower stop.
However, Many consider the best approach is to take the Metro to the Trocadero station which would be Line No. 9. Then, walk from the Palais de Chaillot to the Seine and cross the bridge. Besides the great views from the Trocadero fountains, usually there are free shows by dancers and acrobats around the Palais de Chaillot.
Also, there are four potential bus stops near the structure: Bus 42 to Tour Eiffel, Bus 69 and Bus 87 to Champ de Mars, and Bus 82 to Tour Eiffel or Champ de Mars.
Since the Eiffel Tower is right next to the Seine River, getting there by boat is also an available option. Check with the Batobus at www.batobus.com for times and prices.
The vast green under the tower extends to the 18th-century Ecole Militaire (Military Academy) to the southeast. The area was once a parade ground for French troops. Across the Seine is the Jardins du Trocadero which features the Fountain of Warsaw.
Viewing the Eiffel Tower at night usually is considered one of the best sights in all of Paris. The gold lighting highlights the steelwork far better than compared to daylight. You can head up to Ecole Militaire for a better view of the Eiffel Tower in all its night's splendor.
Given its iconic status, the Eiffel Tower's hours of operation are pretty set between 9 a.m. to midnight during the summer months. Tours are regularly given though the winter months are slightly shorter hours (9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.).
Because it is such a popular tourist attraction – drawing 25,000 visitors daily – long lines are the norm. Sometimes, the wait time can be a couple of hours for taking the elevator. Using the stairs have much shorter lines. The best time to avoid such long lines is to come at least half an hour early.
While the view from any of the levels of the Eiffel Tower is spectacular, the general consensus is that the panoramic view is at its best an hour before sunset.
The top level may not be only during the early winter months. The first 20 days of March and weekdays in November usually have among the lowest traffic. The month of September and the first half of October also are good provided you avoid Saturdays. For May and June, Mondays through Wednesdays have smaller lines.
Tickets can be purchased online to avoid a long queue. However, make sure you arrive on time according to your online purchase. Otherwise, you won't be allowed to enter.
Depending on which route you choose, elevators or stairs, the rates vary. A stairs entrance up to the second level costs seven euros while a lift entrance ticket to the second level is 11 euros. A lift entrance ticket to the top is 17 euros for adults. For ages 12-24, the rates fall to five euros, 8.50 euros, and 14.50 euros. For ages 4-11 and for disabled people accompanied by someone, the rates drop to 3 euros, 4 euros, and eight euros. Children under the age of four visit for free, but the accompanying adult gets charged the individual adult rate.
Depending on weather conditions, a ticket to the top floor can be purchased at the second level.