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The Eiffel Tower


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An emblem of Paris which you cannot forget!

Translated by Harriet Davis — one year ago

Original text by Nuri Mercury

Obviously, one of the unmissable and obligatory places to visit in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, which is, of course, the main symbol of the French capital. Having visited this city several times, I had never climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower - that was not until my last Christmas holidays. In this post I will tell you about my experience and try to give you some advice and useful information for your visit.

A little bit of history

Of course, in order to appreciate the beauty and importance of a place, I think it is important to understand its history. Also known as the Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower was originally built as a temporary structure.

Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 (which was the same year in which the centenary of the French Revolution was celebrated), it was initially planned to last only twenty years and after that period, it would be dismantled. But, as you might have guessed, that never happened! So much so, that in 2016it will have been standing for more than 100 years - 126, to be exact.

An emblem of Paris which you cannot forget!

On the sign in the photo which says "Sortie", you can see “Eiffel Tower”.

By the way, there were some people who were against the preservation of this monument. They saw it as a simple metal structure, with no grace or beauty. If only they knew that it would become so famous that today it is one of the most visited places not only in Europe, but in the whole world!

If you are wondering why it is called "Eiffel Tower", it is because it was named after the engineer who built it: Gustave Eiffel. In fact, Eiffel made a small apartment on the top floor of the tower, where he received special guests (like Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb).

In fact, even today that space is preserved and, if you go up to the top of the tower, you will be able to visit it and see wax figures representing Eiffel himself, his daughter and Edison.

What to see or do at the Eiffel Tower?

Going to the Eiffel Tower to simply go up and enjoy a spectacular view of Paris, is in itself, enough. But this famous monument offers other things, including the following:

Guided tours

If you want to tour the Eiffel Tower, while learning a little (or a lot) about this fabulous monument, a guided tour may be a good option. There are two options: one where you can discover its secrets and curiosities, as well as visit all of its hidden corners (which, in fact, are not open to the general public); the other is a theatrical tour, in the company of an actor, who will tell you all about the story of the Iron Lady. The price for either of these two tours is 29 euros.

To reserve your place in any of these visits, you have to do it directly in the following sites:

Where to eat

Being located in the capital of a country so famous for its gastronomy means that the Eiffel Tower could not be an exception in that sense. That is why here you will find not only one, but two restaurants. One is located on the first floor of the Tower and is called "Le 58". On my birthday last year, I had the opportunity to go there - without a doubt I would recommend it, although it is somewhat expensive. However, for its location and service, as well as for the quality and taste of its food, it is well worth going.

¡Un lugar emblemático de París, no se lo pueden perder!

The Eiffel Tower from below.

On the other hand, if you want a more "chic" place to eat (or, in other words, more expensive), you will have to climb one more floor, to the second floor. There you will find the gastronomic restaurant "Le Jules Verne" (yes, it is named after the famous French writer). I haven't been to this place yet, but I'm sure that eating there must be an unforgettable experience!

By the way, both restaurants offer service at lunchtime and at night. Depending on the service you choose, the price varies. I also recommend that you reserve your place well in advance... As you can imagine, you will not be the only ones who want to eat there! In fact, that's what happened to me and I missed an opportunity to go to Le 58.

You can check all the information in more detail (as well as make your reservations) at the respective sites of each restaurant:

Fast Food Stands

If your budget is not so high, or if you simply don't want to eat in one of the restaurants mentioned above, you can buy sandwiches, drinks and other snacks (chocolates, sweets, etc. ) at the Eiffel Tower.

Champagne Stand

If you want to celebrate a special event or occasion at the Eiffel Tower, at the top, there is a champagne bar. Here you can buy a glass with which you can toast from the heights, while enjoying a beautiful view of Paris. Watch out, a glass of champagne costs between 10 and 15 euros (depending on the type of champagne you ask for), so make sure you're aware of that beforehand!

Some interesting information

  • With its height of slightly more than 300 meters, the Eiffel Tower is the highest point in Paris. Moreover, it was by far the tallest structure in the world.

  • The Eiffel Tower has changed colour over time. In order to prevent it from being affected by corrosion, every five years they coat it with a new coat of paint (which is almost 50 tonnes). It has been yellow, grey and green. Hopefully the next colour will be purple with glitter!

  • Originally, it was simply called the Tower of 300 metres, referring to its height. However, over time, it became known as the Eiffel Tower, named after the French engineer who built it: Gustave Eiffel, as I mentioned before.

Opening Times

Being the most visited monument in France, it is open 365 days a year. Schedules vary according to the season, so I would recommend you check that before you go:

From June to September, it is open from 9:00am to 12:45am (the last access is at midnight and, to go all the way to the top, at 11:00pm).

During the rest of the year, it can be visited from 9:30am to 11:45pm (the last entrance is at 11:00pm and, again, to go all the way to the top, at 10:30pm)

  • Beware: These schedules are only for the lift If you want to climb the stairs, the last access is until midnight (in summer) or until 6:00pm (in low season).

Prices

As I said above, you have two options when it comes to going up the Eiffel Tower: the lift or the stairs. The price to go up in the lift is 11 euros to go up to the second floor or 17 euros to go all the way up to the top. If you prefer to climb all the way up the stairs, it will cost you only 7 euros (but just so you know, you will only be able to take the stairs up to the second floor).

There are also reduced rates for young people from 12 to 24 years old: from 5 euros (stairs), to 8, 50 and 14, 50 euros (to to take the lift to the second floor, or to the top, respectively).

By the way, I recommend that you buy your tickets online. This way you will avoid long queues. You only have to show up at the box office on the day time you choose. Make sure you book your tickets in advance because tickets for upcoming dates sell out quickly.

Here is the link where you can buy your tickets:

http://ticket.toureiffel.fr/index-css5-sete-lges-pg1.html

I don't know why, but I had the idea that climbing the Eiffel Tower would be expensive and that it would be a waste of money... I couldn't have been more wrong! It may cost a little more than entering a museum, but honestly it is a worthwhile experience. You will not regret it and you will be super happy for every penny paid to climb to the top of this beautiful monument!

How to get there

You can easily get to the Eiffel Tower by public transport. Take the RER C (yellow) and get off at the station Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel or the 6 metro line and get off at Bir-Hakeim. Also, both Trocadéro or Passy stations (line 9 and 6, respectively) are very close to the Tower.

My visit to the Eiffel Tower

If I remember correctly, my mother and I visited on 1st of January this year. Why that day? I had checked that this monument is open every day of the year and, as the 1st January is a holiday, one of our options was to visit the Tower on this day and so we decided to take advantage of it! In addition, we thought that it would be a very good start to the year!

¡Un lugar emblemático de París, no se lo pueden perder!

Climbing the Eiffel Tower... I couldn't get the picture right because my hands were freezing!

I wanted to buy the tickets online because I thought that they were a bit cheaper online... but when I saw the site, I found out that the price was the same. So we just decided to go directly to the box office at the Tower to buy our tickets.

On the day we visited, not only was it very cold (well that is winter in France), but on top of that it was raining! Fortunately I brought an umbrella with me, so we could keep dry. Well, just a little bit because with some much wind and rain, my umbrella ended up as an accordion! But oh well, it was sort of useful.

Going to the Tower

We were staying in the 13th district, southeast of Paris (if my sense of direction is right). The nearest metro station was Maison Blanche, from line 7. We took the subway towards La Corneuve to get off at Place d'Italie. From there, we switched to line 6 and got off at Bir-Hakeim. station.

By the way, although there are several subway lines that take you to the Eiffel Tower, you have to walk a bit to get to it. So don't panic if you get out of the subway, don't see it right there in front of you!

The adventure begins

We walked to the Tower and once we reach it, we went to the ticket office. It is worth mentioning that there are several ticket offices (it seems to me that one for each pillar, that is, four). Depending on whether you have bought your ticket in advance or if you are going to buy it that same day, this is the ticket office to which you should go. There are large signs that indicate which one you should go to, both in French and English. In addition, there are also several illuminated signs that give important information such as ticket prices, reductions, possible, timetables, time of last access, etc.

As it was raining that day there were not many people. I remember that on the other occasions when I visited, there were huge queues of people waiting - not only to go up to the Tower, but also to buy tickets. As there weren't many people this time we didn't have to spend hours and hours in the rain and cold, which was a benefit. We asked for two adult tickets to go up to the top floor of the Tower.

As I said above, there are several types of entrance: if you fancy yourself as a sportsman and dare to take the stairs, it will be cheaper than if you prefer to take the lift. However, although the Eiffel Tower has a total of 1665 steps, you will only be able to climb a total of 704, that is, to the second floor.

¡Un lugar emblemático de París, no se lo pueden perder!

From the top of the Tower: a spectacular view of the Trocadero

I saw that there were some people who dared to go up on foot (yes, even with all the rain). But honestly, I recommend that at least once in your life, you go up to the top of the Tower. It is a spectacle that you must see!

Well, continuing with my story, we bought our tickets and we went to the indicated entrance (yes, because there are four accesses and, depending on whether you buy your ticket right there or online, depends on which one you have to go to). We waited to go through the security controls, to check our bags, go through the metal detectors and all that.

Afterwards, we went to the lift that would take us to the top floor of the Eiffel Tower, the highest point in Paris! I remember that the lift was full (yes, and that's even considering I said there weren't many people that day! I can't imagine what it must be like when it's high season). When the lift started to go up, it went at a great speed. Although it caused me a little vertigo, I quickly forgot it thanks to the beautiful view we had from the outside. The lift has glass doors and through these, you can see not only the city landscape, but also the gears and other mechanisms and metal parts of the Tower.

Our first small problem...

So far, so good... but, to tell you the truth, not everything went exactly as planned. When we were in the lift, and we had already gone past the first floor, suddenly, something happened with the lift: it got stuck! . Fortunately it didn't stop in between the two floors, but at the second one. In each lift, there is a person who controls the access and who is in charge of pressing the necessary buttons (which, if they were left unattended, there would surely be more than one person who would like to have a "joke" or something worse... ). The girl in charge that day was Italian. I recognised it from her accent when she spoke French.

When she tried to open the doors so that the people could get in and out, they did not respond - they didn't open. It took a minute... then two... then five... in total we were trapped there for about ten or fifteen minutes. I was calm (or at least I tried to be! ) I told myself that there was no point in panicking because, anyway, that wouldn't change the situation at all. But, I also remember that there were some people who started to get nervous, especially two Argentinean couples (yep, I also recognised their accent). One of the girls was saying that she wanted to get off, what's more, she didn't even want to climb to the top!

Another view of the Trocadero

Meanwhile, the girl responsible for the elevator had already made several calls to technical and maintenance staff. She had explained what had happened: that the lift had become stuck on the second floor, that it did not go up or down and that the doors would not open. We were told to remain calm (as I said, in those moments what else can one do? ), and that soon the right staff would arrive. I have heard it said that such incidents occur in rainy weather. But well, I said to myself that being such a crowded monument, they should have experience with such situations. In addition, since millions of tourists come every day, they have to maintain the facilities well.

At last the technicians arrived and the doors were opened. They told us not to go out, but to wait there. And, although there were people waiting to enter, they were told that they could not access the lift. But after a while, there were some people who left because they were getting a little hysterical, saying that they no longer wanted to be there and that they did not feel safe... among those people, there was the Argentinean girl, as you may have already guessed.

Outside at last!

Well, the thing is, after the doors and grooves dried out, the lift continued to operate normally (fortunately! ). Finally we were able to go up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. As we had bought the pass to climb to the top, we followed the arrows that indicated the way to the next lift that we had to take.

We queued up and they checked our tickets (yes, because not everyone buys the full access pass, managers must ensure that everyone has the corresponding ticket. If not, it would be very easy to buy the cheapest ticket and go all the way up, without having paid the correct fare). Once there, you have to take another lift - I think there are four in total. We had to wait about ten minutes to enter one. Although it was a bit long (especially because of the rain and temperature), I bet that the waiting time was nothing compared to high season days, when there are a lot of tourists!

As you can imagine, there were visitors from all over the world: from Asians (who you could not miss, they were everywhere), Russians, Americans, even, of course, Latinos. In fact we talked a little with them. We found out that they were coming from Ecuador and Nicaragua (if I remember correctly... ), and that for now they were living and working in Spain and had taken advantage of it by taking a tour of Paris.

Finally at the top!

Well, we finally entered the lift to go to the highest point of the Tower. I thought that, upon leaving the lift, I would then see the terrace (yes, the one I had seen before in reports and photos). But no, once there, we went out to a covered space. It's a kind of covered viewpoint from where you can see Paris from above.

From the big windows of this space, there is a board which compares the height of the different buildings and monuments of several parts of the world, with that of the Eiffel Tower. Out of curiosity, I looked to see if there was some construction from Mexico and yes: the Latin American Tower. Although it not as tall as the Eiffel Tower, these comparisons allow visitors to compare and relativise the dimensions of each of these buildings.

The Seine as seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower

By the way, while I was there, I felt the Eiffel Tower move! I had previously heard about it, but I didn't believe it... until I experienced it myself. So it's true: the wind makes the Tower move slightly and you can feel it rocking. It made me a little nervous because it reminded me of the earthquakes in Mexico. But well, nothing happened - it's normal. Also, it is a tower which has been standing for more than a hundred years and given that so many people visit it, it must be excellently maintained.

If you ask yourself "and that's all, can't you go all the way up? " You're wrong, of course you can climb to an even higher point. To access it, you have to go up some stairs that take you to the outside terrace. I bet that when there is good weather, it must be a very beautiful spectacle to see Paris from so high up! I say "I bet" because we went up to that terrace (of course, we couldn't not), but as it was raining and windy, I don't know! The wind was so strong that when I tried to walk back down, the wind carried me with it! (No joke! )

Although it is true that we could enjoy a beautiful view of the city, it was not for long or in the best conditions because of the weather. But, I did manage to quickly lean out to Gustave Eiffel's apartment (yes, which I told you about before) and I could see that on the top floor, there was a champagne stand. That is to say, if you have something to celebrate, you can buy a glass of champagne and make a toast from the top of Paris. I would have liked to do it with my mother, but because it was so cold, I preferred to have a chocolate or a hot coffee, even though I was well covered up with my gloves, my hat and my coat - I felt like a penguin in the North Pole!

Back to earth... and a false alarm!

After that, it obviously didn't take long to get back down. We took the lift again to the second floor and, when we waited for the other lift to go down to the bottom... oh, surprise! Another problem! This time the lift wasn't stuck, no! Rather we heard an announcement on the loudspeaker saying: "Dear visitors, for safety reasons, the monument is closing. We would like to direct you towards the closest exit. Thank you for your understanding"...in other words, we were asked to evacuate the Eiffel Tower for security reasons! When I heard that I said: "What?! For security reasons?! Well, with the recent unfortunate attacks in Paris, I only wished that nothing bad would happen... anyway, we were (one more time) who knows how many meters high and the only way out was to take the lift which we had to wait for... So I stayed calm and waited...

Minutes later, when we were still waiting for the lift to arrive, we heard an announcement again: "That was a false alarm, you may continue your visit peacefully. Enjoy your visit! ”. Well, after all, it was only a false alarm Ah and, by the way, while all this was happening, my mother wasn't even bothered by it! When I asked her if she had been frightened (no, it didn't frighten me, I just wanted to know if she had been), she simply said to me: "Announcement? What announcement? Ah, I didn't even pay attention". Well, sometimes it's better not to understand things!

The apartment on the top floor of the Eiffel Tour. The decoration is the same as when it was built.

Well, once we were (finally! ) down, we decided to quickly go to the souvenir shop. I say quickly because, at that moment, all I wanted to do was to go to a covered place, where I could get warm and dry off a little! Although I didn't buy anything, I saw that they had several nice things: mugs, key rings, postcards, umbrellas, t-shirts, and so on. My mother did buy some bags with chocolate coins that said "Paris". (They weren't expensive and if you bought two or more, they gave you a small discount). If you go to this store, this item is a very good option for you to bring something home to give to your friends and family.

Conclusion

Although my visit to the Eiffel Tower was in the rain, and was windy and cold, I would be lying if I said that I regret having visited it. Despite the weather conditions, I was finally able to climb the most characteristic and famous monument in Paris. Besides, I was able to appreciate the city from another angle.

In spite of the fact that at that moment I was cold and the only thing I wanted was to be in a warm place, now even laughter reminds me that I was at the top of the tower, trying to keep on my feet on the ground with my poor umbrella that turned inside out (no, it didn't survive, coming out of there, I had to throw it away). And of course, after that visit, I was left with more than one anecdote to tell (from a traffic jam in the lift, to a false evacuation alarm).

You definitely can't leave Paris without going up the famous Eiffel Tower. It would almost be like not having gone to the city of lights! So, as you pass through the city, reserve a space in your diary for you to visit and climb up to the top of the famous Iron Lady. I'm sure it will be an experience you will remember for all your life.

¡Un lugar emblemático de París, no se lo pueden perder!

The Eiffel Tower, the Iron Lady, from a boat

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