I love the Eiffel Tower! It is by far my most favorite monument in France. Since the first time I saw it, I’ve been in love with its sleek design and beautiful architecture. C’est beau!
I’m sure you probably recognize the Eiffel Tower. It’s one of the most famous structures in the world and the symbol of France itself. But you might not know that the tower was never meant to be permanent, or that the French hated it at one point.
Now, the tower is definitely one of the most popular monuments in France. Over 200 million people have visited La Tour Eiffel since it was built! The Eiffel Tower can be seen from almost any spot in Paris, and is one of the most photographed Parisan landmarks.
When to Go
Whenever you want! The Eiffel Tower is open everyday, all year long.
I recommend going at least once during the day, and again at night. The view is spectacular both times, but changes dramatically. During the day, you can see all of Paris from a panoramic or birds eye view. At night, the city is alive with lights and looks absolutely stunning!
From June 15 to September 1, the tower is open from 9:00 am to 12:45 am. The rest of the year, the tower is open from 9:30 am to 11:45 pm.
The elevators are open the entire time. The steps close at 6:30 pm January 1 to June 15, and September 2 to December 31. They remain open until closing the rest of the year.
*The best time for photos are the hours leading up to sunset, when the light is kinder to cameras, or on overcast days.
If you don’t actually visit the tower at night, be sure to look at it from wherever you are in the city. As the skies grow dark, the tower lights up, and it is absolutely stunning!
If that weren’t enough, the first ten minutes of every hour the tower sparkles with a light show. It looks like millions of tiny diamonds dancing all over it. Impossible to truly capture in a photograph, it must be experienced with your own eyes!
The least expensive way to see the Eiffel Tower is to walk the first two levels. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll bypass the LONG line for the elevators, especially in tourist season.
Adults: €14,50 to top, €8,50 up to level 2
12 -12: €13.00 to top, €7,00 up to level 2
Ages 4 – 11/disabled persons: €10.00 to top, €4,00 up to level 2
12 -12: €3,50
Ages 4 – 11/disabled persons: €3,00
*Children under 4 are free.
History of the Eiffel Tower
- The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris. It was designed by and is named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, who was best known for building iron bridges.
- The tower was built for the Universal Exposition of 1889, and to commemorate the centennial of the Revolution. Skeptics said that it couldn’t be built, while Eiffel had wanted it to soar higher.
- The Eiffel Tower is a feat of engineering. It’s open framework construction ushered in the almost-unlimited possibilities of steel construction, paving the way for the first skyscraper. It’s daring shape was designed to resist wind. It weighs more than 10,000 tons, but only exerts about the same amount of pressure on the ground as you sitting on your chair!
- The tower was visited by scientists and engineers from all over the world. Famous visitors include King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, the Shah of Persia, and Thomas Edison – who even signed the guest book. Gustave Eiffel engraved the names of seventy-two French scientists, engineers and some other notable people onto the tower, in recognition of their contributions.
- The Iron Lady has controversial beginnings. Slammed as a ‘hallow chandelier’ and ‘tower of Babel’, the French people hated it at the time of its construction. So how is it that it is now the emblem of Paris?
- When the tower was first built, it was never meant to be permanent. It was to remain for 20 years and then be torn down. However, after 20 years, it had as many fans as opponents. The advent of wireless communication in the 1890’s ultimately saved the tower from destruction – it was the best place in the city for an antenna. So a radio antenna was placed on top, and antenna and tower remain to this day.
What to See
- The view
- The different landings
- The tower at night
- The restaurants
- The gift shops
The view is the obvious reason to climb the tower, whether it’s for the magnificient views of the city, or to test your nerves peering down. On a clear day, you can see all of Paris. At night, the skyline is brightened with hundreds of thousands of lights.
You can visit the tower on three different levels:
- The first landing is 187 ft (57 m) high. You can take the elevator, but it saves time and money to walk up the 360 steps if you can.There is lots to see on this level. There is a cinema, which shows historical film footage of the tower. There is also an observatory, in which you can monitor the sway at the top of the tower. You can also see the original hydraulic pump, and piece of the original staircase used by Eiffel himself!One of my favorite things on this level is the viewing gallery, with information boards, and a great view over the rooftops of Paris.The Altitude 95 restaurant is on this level, and it has a great view. There is also a gift shop, a snack bar, and a bar that is open year round.There is also a post office on this level. Impress your friends by postmarking a letter from the Eiffel Tower!
- The second landing is 359 steps above the first level. I’d walk these too, if you can. The best things about this level is the amazing panoramic view of the city. It is the best level for photos.Also on this level is the famous Jules Verne restaurant. But you can’t get there from anywhere on the level! Instead, take the private south elevator from the ground floor.Besides taking pictures and eating at Jules Verne, there is not much else to do on this level. There is a snack bar, as well as a glass floor viewing gallery. But don’t get too excited – the “gallery” is only a three foot wide hole in the floor of the landing. Still somewhat cool, but I expected something similiar to a glass bottomed boat, which it is not.
- The third landing is where the magic happens. 905 ft (276 m) above the ground, it can hold 800 people at a time. To get there, take the elevator from the second landing.In my opinion, this level has the best view, but be careful – it can be very windy! On a clear day, you can see for 45 miles in any direction, and there is a panoramic photo in the viewing gallery to help you identify monuments and buildings.There is also a reconstruction of Gustave Eiffel’s office on this level, as well as the guest book signed by the towers most famous visitors.
The tower at night provides a spectacular view – one of my favorites! There are a staggering 10,000 light bulbs lighting the tower at night, and more than 350 spotlights illuminate the laticework. On top of the tower is a rotating light that can be seen up to 50 mi (80 km) away.
I think one of the best ways to see the tower at night is by boat trip. My dinner cruise on the Seine was really fun, and was a great way to see all the monuments and buildings lit up at night.
There are two restaurants in the Eiffel Tower. On the second level is the famous Jules Verne restaurant. You’ll definitely need a reservation to get in. I suggest booking a table before you even leave for
Paris. Here, you can enjoy an aperitif at the piano bar. Then take a seat at a table and enjoy your meal – they all offer great views.
On the first level is Altitude 95. While it doesn’t have the same reputation as Jules Verne, the food is great and so is the view. Trust me, I’ve eaten there! Go early and try to get a seat by the window.
There are gift shops on the first two levels of the tower, as well as many vendors for blocks around it. While the vendors offer small (and sometimes gaudy) items like keychains and glowsticks, the shops in the tower offer much more variety.
If you’re a fan of the tower like I am it is difficult deciding which souvenir to buy. Just look around for things you truly cannot buy anywhere else. I finally settled on a lamp, which now sits proudly next to my bed!