Just try and think of Paris without thinking of the Eiffel Tower. Couldn’t, right? You’re not alone. The city’s landmark structure is so iconic, it is nearly impossible to think of Paris, and indeed, the whole of France without it coming to mind. Today, it is the most popular paid monument in the world, but it wasn’t always so. When it was built as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was meant to be a temporary installation. Upon its completion, it was widely criticized by Parisians as eyesore. The tower was to be dismantled in 1909, but it served a practical function as a radio tower, so it was allowed to stay. During World War II, Hitler ordered the tower destroyed as Allies were closing in on Paris. His orders were defied and again, the tower stood.
The gigantic iron structure was completed in 1889 after only two years of construction. Despite the openness of the tower and lack of OSHA in 19th century industrial practices, only one man died during its construction, thanks to general contractor Gustave Eiffel’s safety practices. At 1063 feet, it was the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Building was built in 1930. Being shorter than the Chrysler Building was only a temporary setback; the addition of a radio antenna in 1957 made the Eiffel Tower taller than it’s American competitor. Today, it is not the tallest building in the world, nor is even the tallest building in France. But who cares? There is only one Eiffel Tower and everyone who visits Paris must go see it.
The lines can be long, so purchase your tickets before you leave home. What? You didn’t do that because you did not want to be tied to a schedule while on vacation? Were you planning on visiting Paris without going up in the Eiffel Tower? If you buy your tickets at the tower office and you have an hour before your admission time, don’t just stand there in the queue. The best views of the Eiffel Tower are from the Trocadero across the Seine. It can be a bit touristy here, with vendors giving you the hard sell for tower keychains, so after you snap your iconic pic, walk south along the river for some equally stunning, yet less crowded shots. By now it is probably time for your admission to the tower.
Just standing underneath the tower is amazing; 10,000 tons stretching 87 stories into the sky all right above you, built before cars or computers. There are three levels, with the top level having a higher ticket price. Though you may feel compelled to go all the way to the top, acrophobes fear not. The best views of the city are actually from the second level. The top level is to high up to tell what you are actually looking at and the first level is too close to the ground. Once up, take your time to let it all soak in. You are standing on the EIFFEL TOWER LOOKING AT PARIS! Grab your camera and take as many pictures as you can.
If you get the chance, go up in the tower late at night. As school is no longer in session, the field trippers are long gone and many of their parents have gone to bed. You feel as if you have the place to yourself. Though you may not get the best the photograph with your camera, this is may just be the best way to see the City of Light.
The Tower is open from 9am to midnight during summer and 9:30 to 11pm the rest of the year. First and second level adult price is 8.20 euro and top level is 13.40 euro.