on September 30, 2011
The first thing you think of when you're planning a trip to Paris is the Eiffel Tower. It is visible from almost all parts of the city, but is not really in walking distance from the centre. The area around the tower is an obvious tourist trap, overflowing with over-priced cafes, people selling tacky souvenirs and queues of people. But, it is worth it to see Gustave Eiffel's controversial masterpiece.It was built between 1887 and 1889 and was the entrance to the World Trade Fair at the time. Like I said it was very controversial because many Parisians hated it, they proclaimed it to be an eye sore – perhaps because it was such a modern structure in a city that is proud of its history and ornate buildings. It is a wonder then that not only is it still here, but it has become France’s most famous and most visited building – so much so that it is the most visited paid monument in the world, with over 20 million people having visited since its opening.You can go to three floors in the tower, by means of lifts in each of the four 'spokes'. Get there early though because the queues are unbelievable both to get up and come back down. When I went, I only made it to the second level because I was very conscious of the swaying of the tower! I think it's about ten Euros to go all the way to the third level and if you're feeling energetic, you can cut that amount in half by using the stairs rather than the lift! It may save you a bit of money, but I think you’d have to consider very carefully if you want to walk up because it is quite a trek, as you would imagine from France’s second tallest building.Another way to get up the tower is to visit the Jules Verne restaurant. It is a world famous restaurant with world famous prices. A glance at the menu confirms this, with starters from twenty Euros and main courses from forty Euros. For this price though, you do get outstanding views, outstanding food and a free ride up in the dedicated elevator!At the bottom of the tower are some gardens which make for a pleasant stroll. When you get to the end of them, you should turn round and take a picture, from here you can get the whole tower in one frame and it makes for an outstanding picture, especially on a clear day.I have only been up the tower once for two reasons. The first is the queues and the second is the fact that any photos taken from the tower obviously won't include Paris' most famous land mark! I don’t think I would ever actually go up the tower again for both of these reasons, but it is the one place that any visitor to Paris should visit once.
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