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Oh là là – the Eiffel Tower!

by Silke Elzner

No monument in the world is more French, more European, than the Eiffel Tower. So of course it has to be part of our European itinerary. We are no Eiffel Tower virgins – the last time we visited must have been around 20 years ago. Yet, the tower is virtually unchanged and continues to fascinate. The only difference is that now you can purchase your tickets online.

In fact, if you want to visit the Eiffel Tower and want to use one of the lifts to get to the second floor, you will need to book well in advance. Unaware of the masses of people that would await us in pretty much any of the major European attractions that we visited this summer, I didn’t plan accordingly and missed out on the opportunity to book the tickets for the lift.

Eiffel Tower detail

Yes, as it turns out, one week of planning prior to your visit will not be enough in summer – you will find that the lift tickets to the Eiffel Tower are already gone. But don’t despair! We still got the chance to visit the first and second floors of the Eiffel Tower – by climbing the steps. It is worse than it sounds, actually – if you have moderate fitness you will see that it is easily manageable.

Plus, you have the added bonus of enjoying some spectucular views of the area around the Eiffel Tower while climbing, not to forget some amazing views deep inside the structure itself – the beams, the nuts, the mechanics that move the lift. Not a bad experience at all, plus we only had to wait five minutes in line to buy the tickets with instant access to the stairs.

Looking up into the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower has three floors, the first two are included in the basic price, no matter whether you choose to climb the stairs or take the lift. Naturally, the first floor is roomier with enough space to host a posh restaurant, a café with seating arrangements made from recycled packing crates, and a scary looking glass floor. Find the kissing spot and enjoy a smootch with your lover (it is Paris, after all) and of course, enjoy the views!

Paris is a fascinating, beautiful city, not just on street level but also when seen from the Eiffel Tower. In true royal style there are visual axes that radiate from the tower, follow the river Seine or connect the suicidal traffic roundabouts that are so challenging for those drivers who are not familiar with Parisian traffic.

It’s the orderly geometric patterns of the streets and avenues that make the views so appealing, yet also pay attention to the details – the rooftops and bel-étages, the inner courtyards and the flowers on the Juliet balconies.

Views from Eiffel Tower

Detailed view

River Seine

Sadly, we missed the opportunity to visit the top floor due to overcrowding. You can only access the top floor using a separate lift; there are no stairs, and the tickets are sold separately on the second floor. Too late did we realise that the top floor would be in high demand for the sunset, and of course people wouldn’t leave this enviable spot if not forced. With no-one leaving the top floor no new guests were allowed up there, so in the end we accepted defeat in front of the closed ticket office and returned to the ground floor. Were we disappointed? No really – it was still a magical experience.

Alternatively, for a truly romantic experience you might want to plan a nice dinner at the Eiffel Tower’s very own restaurant. However, I would assume that again you will have to book well in advance, and I would recommend you dress the part. T-Shirts and trainers are not a good look in a place like this.

And if you are not one of the lucky ones who end up on the Eiffel Tower for Paris at sunset, just join the crowds to its feet on the Champs de Mars for a picnic of red wine, baguette and cheese and watch the shades grow longer and the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower become more prominent by the minute. A lively, friendly atmosphere you will find here, together with Parisians, students, tourists. Cheerful and festive.

Does the Eiffel Tower live up to its hype? I think the answer is yes. Besides the fact that it is an engineering masterpiece I think the arches and curves are ridiculously attractive and so distinct that you cannot help but associate them with the French culture. Regardless of the crowds it’s still an extremely romantic spot, and if you consider proposing to your girlfriend (or boyfriend, for that matter) then it will still be the best place to do so.

Eiffel Tower

Inside the beams and mechanics

Cafe on the Eiffel Tower

Proposed stairs display

Record plaque Eiffel Tower

Looking down

Miniature Eiffel Tower

The shadow

Telescope

A bride

Montmatre

Seine

Looking onto Parisian houses

Straight lines

Eiffel tower

Glass floor

Kissing Place

Eiffel Tower at sunset