on July 10, 2009
On my recent trip to Paris with a friend I knew that I wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower. I’d been up the Tower about 16 years ago but the last time I was in Paris, about 6 years ago, I couldn’t go up as the ex-Mr Tart was scared of heights. My friend and I both made the Tower a priority for our trip.SOME HISTORY: The Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution in 1889. It was originally supposed to be pulled down after a few years but the French realised it was good for communication so allowed it to stay up. The Tower is made from over 18000 pieces of metal and 2.5 million rivets. The Tower is painted every 7 years to stop it rusting and it takes nearly 60 tonnes of paint! It is visited by around 6 million people every year. The Tower now stands at 324 metres since a TV antenna was added in 2000. LOCATION: There is a story of Guy du Maupassant who said that he ate in the Tower every day because it was the only place he didn’t have to look at it from! While an exaggeration, it is true that the Tower, being the tallest structure in Paris, can be seen from all over the city. It is located on the Champs de Mars, on the south bank of the Seine. The nearest metro stations are Bir Hakeim, Trocadero and Ecoles Militaire. PRICES: The prices depend on age and how far up the Tower you want to go. To go to the top it is €13 for an adult, €9.90 for a young person (12-24) and €7.50 for a child or disabled person. For the second level that goes down to €8, €6.40 and €4 and for the stairs €4.50 €3.50 and €3.THE EXPERIENCE: We approached the Tower from the south. Looking along the park to the Tower it does look very impressive. I could never say that it was a beautiful structure but it is so iconic that you really can’t help but be impressed.You can queue to go up any one of the four legs of the Tower, although one was closed for renovation when we went which made the queues longer at the others. You can choose to climb the stairs from the south leg or take the lift from the others to get to the second level. YES – I did just say stairs! Needless to say we opted for the lift (it’s about 660 steps to the second level!!). The queue for the south leg was much shorter and costs less but even my famous frugality wouldn’t encourage me to do that! The queue was very long. We queued to buy our tickets for around 45 minutes. It was annoying being constantly hounded by men selling flashing Eiffel Towers and Eiffel Tower keyrings. We were there during the Easter holidays so it was understandably busy, although I think it would be busy all year round so prepare to queue! The only way to avoid them seems to be to be part of a group as only large groups can pre-book.The lift took us up the leg of the Tower to the second level. This lift was a double lift which carries a lot of people. You then have to queue again to get to the top of the Tower. At the bottom it had said that it would take another 45 minutes of queuing once we were on the second level, but we only waited about 15 minutes which was a relief! The second lift was much scarier than the first. It was a lot smaller and a lot faster. I was feeling a little jittery in the lift! For me, it’s the getting to the top that bothers me. I don’t mind being high (oh dear…that sounds wrong!) but I mind the journey up! Once at the top there is an indoor viewing area. This has photographs where you can see exactly what you are looking at from the Tower. You can then walk up a flight of stairs to the outside observation deck. This is where you really see how amazing the view is. You can see for absolutely miles and can spot all of Paris’ landmarks laid out below you. Look out for Notre Dame, Les Invalides and Sacre Coeur. You really can’t help but be inspired by this view.Also up the Tower there are two restaurants, 58 and Le Jules Verne. We didn’t try these out as they are hugely overpriced. 58 costs €65 for dinner with no drinks and Le Jules Verne costs €200 (!!) for dinner. There is also a snack place on the ground, first and second floors which does hot dogs etc, which cost around €7.50. No thank you very much! There are also gift shops at the base and on the first and second floors. The main trouble with the Tower is that you have to queue so long to get up the flipping thing! Once you’re up there you walk around the top, see all the views, take the obligatory cheesy photos and then you have to start the queuing process again to go down. When we saw the sign saying 45 minute wait on the second floor for the top floor lift my friend asked if it was worth going all the way to the top. I was insistent as I don’t think you can only do half of something and you have to do the Tower when in Paris.CONCLUSION: Ok, so I think the Tower is not very attractive, the queues are hugely frustrating and it is quite expensive if you take the lift and yet I’m giving it five stars. In reality, despite its flaws, I think the Eiffel Tower is one of THE icons to visit in the world. If you are going to Paris, unless you are terrified of heights, it is a must see. The views are absolutely amazing and it really is worth the queues. Recommended!
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