The Eiffel Tower

First Impressions of Paris

Whenever I meet new people when we’re traveling, they automatically assume I live in Paris.  I don’t live in Paris.  I don’t even live near Paris and unless I win the lottery, I do not want to live in Paris either!  Paris is a wonderful city to visit, it’s a great place to be a student, I just can’t see myself living there now (probably because we could never afford it and would be somewhere out in commuter-hell land).  Paris has any number of great museums, monuments and neighborhoods to visit but today I want to talk about her own “Iron Lady,” the Eiffel Tower.  The Eiffel Tower is the world’s most visited landmark and a worldwide symbol for France!

Getting Ready for our Close-Up

Built for the 1889 Paris World Fair, the Eiffel Tower took exactly two years, two months and five days to finish.  Paris’ symbol wasn’t originally meant to last.  It was supposed to stand for 20 years and then be demolished.  It was saved thanks to science–with the addition of a giant antenna, the Eiffel Tower became a radio communications tower.  Originally considered an eyesore by many Parisians, the Eiffel Tower became a landmark over time.  For 40 years, it was even the world’s tallest man-made structure until the Chrysler Building was built-in New York in 1929.  Today, thanks to even more antenna at the top, the Eiffel Tower is again taller than the Chrysler Building–312 meters without the antenna, 324 meters with the antenna counted.

Eiffel Tower Construction Postcard

The Eiffel Tower started out with a brown-red color.  Three years later, when it was time to do a bit of maintenance work, it was painted a yellow ocher color.  It wasn’t until 1968 that the Eiffel Tower got its official bronze paint job.  The Tower is actually painted in three different shades of bronze.  In order for the color to appear the same from a distance, the darkest paint is used at the bottom and as you go higher, the shades get lighter.  The Eiffel Tower also bends and grows depending on the heat and wind.  In 1999, during a particularly windy storm, the top moved 13 cm from its regular position (normal wind variation–6-7 cm).  Heat can also make the Tour Eiffel grow up to 18cm taller!

If you’re planning to visit, you can buy your tickets online ahead of time and either print them out or put them on your cell phone.  While you won’t save any money this way, you will save time.  You won’t have to stand in line to buy your tickets.  Anthony and I both have stories of wanting to see the Eiffel Tower, getting there, looking at the line and turning right back around.  (I admit that this is easier to do when you’re living there and not on vacation.)  You also get to choose what time you would like to visit.  The Eiffel Tower is open year round.   During the peak summer season from June 17-August 28, the Tower opens at 9:00 and closes after midnight at 00:45; the rest of the year, you can visit from 9:30-23:45.  Your ticket price depends on how high you want to go and if you will be walking or taking the elevator.  The first and second levels can be reached by foot (stairs) or elevator, the third and highest level can only be reached by elevator.  If you have a baby-carrier, either option is open to you.  With small children, I would recommend the elevator–the stairs are long (especially for little legs) and depending on how many people are trying to go up, your children will practically be run over by certain tourists/tour groups.  Any money you thought you saved will disappear in the frustration of trying to get up; remember you’re on vacation and are supposed to be having a good time!  Ticket prices will be going up again on April 1st, the prices I indicate here are good until the end of the month.  Children under 4 are free with a paying adult.  Tickets for children 4-11 range from 3.20€-9.30€, while young people aged 12-24 years old pay 3.70€-11.80€.  Adult tickets cost 4.70€-13.40€.

Older children (elementary school age) can follow Gus, a young boy, around as they visit the Eiffel Tower’s first level.  Gus, named after Gustave Eiffel, is a sort-of mascot for kid’s to follow. Children can follow his yellow footsteps to 12 different stations where they can learn about the Eiffel Tower, its construction and random trivia to impress their friends at home with!  You can pick up a booklet for your kids on the First Level or print one out at home if you want to plan ahead.

Adults looking to splurge on a romantic meal can enjoy eating at Le Jules Verne, the Tower’s one star Michelin restaurant.  The Eiffel Tower also has a brasserie, a self-serve “buffet” area and a champagne bar–expect to pay for the location.  I, personally, cannot justify the cost involved (even if we were without the girls) but I can only speak for myself and our budget.  Picnicking near the Eiffel Tower is just as memorable to me and the price doesn’t compare.  If you don’t want to picnic (or the weather is too cold), when you’ve finished taking in the views from the Eiffel Tower, you can be like us and just randomly stroll the streets of Paris taking in the atmosphere until you find a small little restaurant or café!  Happy Travels!

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