From the top of the Eiffel Tower

From the top of the Eiffel Tower

The visit of the Eiffel Tower is a once in a lifetime experience. And by “once in a lifetime” I mean  “You will be happy to visit once – and just as happy never doing it ever again.” Don’t take me wrong – I totally loved it, but it was very exhausting.

Everyone was telling us “Don’t go to the Eiffel Tower! It’s a tourist trap, the queues are terrible, it’s not worth it…” But how could we visit Paris and not see the one thing that was the romantic symbol of this city for us for so many years? Me and Ben were of the same opinion: Of course we will go.

Jardins du Trocadéro from above. In the background you can see the skyscrapers of La Défense quartier
Jardins du Trocadéro from above. In the background you can see the skyscrapers of La Défense quartier

But when we arrived to the bottom of the tower and I saw the CROWDS, I almost gave up and suggested that we head to the nearby park for a picnic instead. Terrible, long queues (and I have crowds and long queues so much!)  Fortunately Ben was more reasonable and knew that we would regret missing out on this, and once we are up there, we will eventually love it.

And we did. But first, the queues. They looked pretty intimidating – long lines of people trailing to every one of the legs of the tower. But we discovered they move pretty fast and in an half an hour or so we were boarding the lift to the second floor of the tower. And the view – it was worth it.

The view of Seine from the Eiffel Tower
The bridges of Seine

Where the real hell started though, it was the queue for the lift to the top of the tower. That single lift is the only means of getting to the top, and all the people that previously got up by either of the four legs of the tower who wanted to continue upwards merged in a terrible queue that spanned the tower two times around. Believe it or not, we spent almost two hours waiting to get up there. At least the view was spectacular. We whiled the time by chatting with a nice American couple ahead of us in the queue, and finally we were able to hop on the lift that took us to the highest point of the Eiffel Tower open to visitors which lies at the height of 276 meters.

The view from this level is even more amazing – you can see all the things that you were able to observe from the second floor, but as you are higher above, you look at them from a different perspective. You can also take a peek into the private apartment of Gustav Eiffel himself – where the wax figure of the famous architect is sitting, appearing to be immersed in a conversation with Thomas Edison.

A play of light and shadows on the streets of Paris
A play of light and shadows in the streets of Paris. (Yes, it’s the shadow of Eiffel Tower in the front of the photo :)))
The Seine from the Eiffel Tower
The Seine from the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel's apartment on the top of the tower
Eiffel’s apartment on the top of the tower

We had to wait in a (shorter) queue to get on the lift back to the second floor, and afterwards we decided to walk the rest of the way to the bottom of the tower by stairs. After all, descending through the intricate iron ribs of the iconic construction is an unforgettable experience in itself. This way we were also able to visit the first floor which the lift passes without stopping on the way up – and it is worth it just because of the glass floor that allows you to look down on the waiting people, small as ants.

The glass floor - Eiffel Tower, 1st level
Tiny people underneath my feet 🙂

When we finally reached the firm earth, we were exhausted from all the waiting, but also elated thanks to the the magnificent view – and the fact that we fulfilled one of our life-long dreams. We were happy that we got to see this beautiful city from the top of its most iconic building. But the next time we visit, we will just sit on the grass of the park and spend a leisurely afternoon admiring the symbol of Paris from below while having a french baguette with cheese and wine 🙂

Useful tips:

  • For avoiding the queues, buy the ticket on the internet. The only downside is that you have to make the purchase well in advance. We looked for the tickets 3 months before our visit and they were sold out already. You can buy the tickets here: http://ticket.toureiffel.fr/ and more instruction about how to buy here.
  • the Eiffel Tower has three levels: 1st floor, 2nd floor and the summit. You can take a lift to the second floor or, if you are physically fit, buy  a cheaper ticket and walk the stairs to the first two levels. (Some of the legs of the tower have stairs inside, some of them have the lifts and there is a queue for every leg separately. Make sure you are waiting in the right one, depending on which option you want to take.) Then, if you want to visit the summit, you will have to take another lift (and wait in another queue for a ticket), as it is an only option how to get there. There is an info booth in one of the legs of the Tower if you are as confused as we were 🙂
  • You can’t bring any drinks in cans or glass bottles nor knives etc. on the tower – there is a security search of your bags – but water in a plastic bottle or a reasonable amount of food is OK. Throwing any objects from the tower is strictly forbidden.

And finally:

  • If you are only looking for the view of the Paris from above and you don’t mind from where, go visit La Tour Montparnasse instead. You will avoid waiting in the queue and as a bonus you will be able to see the Eiffel Tower as a part of the landscape as well. Bring a bottle of wine and watch the sunset over Paris from the rooftop terrace. You can buy the tickets and find more info on the official site: http://www.tourmontparnasse56.com/en/

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