Although Paris was a highly visited city long before the Eiffel Tower stood over the banks of the Seine, it has in many ways come to be the symbol of Paris to modern travelers. The tower's pinnacle reaches far up in the sky punctuating the Parisian horizon and welcoming visitors to the most romanticized city in Europe.
How to Get There:
Presumably you will have an easier time getting to the Eiffel Tower than we did. Using the NextStopParis metro app plot you course from your current location, nearest metro stop, or where you are going to be before you visit the Eiffel Tower. The app will give you pretty clear direction on how to get to the closest metro stop. The difficulty that we had was that the Yellow C Train was closed due to the flooding in Paris just prior to our trip, so when arrived at the Invalides stop and tried to transfer we found our path barred by temporary metal gates. Since it was our first day in Paris this caused us considerably alarm and stress because we didn't have a good handle on the city yet.
It turns out the Invalides isn't that far away from the Eiffel Tower, we could see it from the station. Although it is certainly not the closest stop, which is for most situations the Champ De Mar Tour Eiffel station. After studying the map in the Lonely Planet app I decided we could walk there because it wasn't far to the large park that stretches in front of the tower and we could just walk through there.
This would have proved an excellent plan if it hadn't been for the fact that Euro 2016 tournament was going to start the next day and the whole area was closed off for the Tour Eiffel Fan Zone. This meant that we had to circumvent the entire park to get to the Eiffel Tower.
We did finally make it however and were able to see the tower looming in front of us, which we had lost site of shortly after leaving the metro station. To get into the base area of the tower we had to pass through a security point bag check but there is no fee.
What You Will See and Do:
I expect you probably already have a pretty good idea what you will see when you visit the Eiffel Tower. The tower is the reason you are there and you will have ample chance to view it and think to yourself, "Am I really here, in the place I have so many times in pictures and movies?"
Just walking underneath the tower is quite an awesome experience and doesn't cost you anything so if you are in Paris you would be foolish not to go and do at least this. The base area was not overly crowded while we were there in mid June, but there may have been less visitors due to the recent flooding.
In addition to walking around under the Eiffel Tower you can also determine to what extent you would like to see the upper parts of the tower with their commanding views of the city. You can purchase stair only tickets, or you can get elevator tickets. Stair only tickets, which were what we chose to do will give you access only to the first two levels of the tower and will require you walk a large number of stairs. Elevator tickets will take you to these two floors and can also get you to the very top of the tower.
While we walked up the stairs we listened to the Rick Steve's guide interview from the Audio Europe app. This provided an easy way to learn about the history of the tower, although when we were tired we also stopped to read some of the signs on the landings.
The first level of the tower contains a little park, a restaurant, a cafe, and a gift shop there are also glass floors you can walk on and see all the people walking around below you. Meagan liked those, but I had a hard time walking on them. There are also restrooms on this level, you have to climb a short flight of stairs to get to them; the stairs are located between the cafe and the gift shop. The restrooms are free so be sure to take advantage of them.
We had lunch at the cafe on the first level, and then we found the stairs up to the second the level. The second level is quite a bit smaller but still has a place you can get ice cream, macaroons and other snacks as well as another gift shop and bathrooms. There is a another tier to this level that you can get to by climbing a short flight of stairs. This is where you would get in the elevator to go to the top of the tower if you bought those tickets. Since we didn't I can't fill you in on what you would see there, but I anticipate it would be pretty exciting.
After we finished at the tower we crossed the river towards a palace-like building on the other side so we could take some pictures with the full tower. We found a good spot just over the bridge, but this may not be necessary for you if the park to the southeast is open while you are there.
The Eiffel Tower isn't just one of those places that you have to visit because everybody does, although it is that too, it is an amazing piece of both architecture and history in its own right. It is really quite awesome to see and since it has been a tourist attraction from the day it first opened you can't even feel bad for being a tourist there. It is a lot of stair walking if you choose the cheaper route, but it is totally doable for most people.
The pricing on tickets varies depending on who you are and what you want to do. There is different pricing for different age groups and people with disabilities, and people who want to use the elevator instead of the stairs. So make sure to check the website
for the full details for your group. In the summary card I have put the different prices for a regular adult.
Labels: Eiffel Tower, Europe, France, Paris