I thought I’d save this week for the iconic Eiffel Tower, the object that usually comes to mind when one thinks of Paris (alongside croissants, fromage, pastries etc). La dame de fer (The Iron Lady) as it is also known stands at an impressive 324m and is visible from most of Paris.
The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel, and remains today the 2nd tallest structure in France. A visit is highly recommended, indeed a trip to Paris would be incomplete without it! The queues have been long every time I’ve been, but it’s certainly worth the wait.
I recommend booking tickets online as there are 2 separate queues, one to buy tickets and one to take the lift. For the more fit, there are of course the stairs – approximately 300 of them to each of the first 2 floors. Anyone who knows me well would not believe that I actually climbed the stairs to the first floor so I took a picture:
The picture doesn’t actually prove that I walked the stairs but I really did, and to my amazement, it took only 5 minutes! The 3rd floor (via lift) is an absolute must though, as the view is sensational. I went up about half an hour before sunset so I managed to get:
Be warned, it is FREEZING at the top! If you do go to the 3rd floor, remember to dress warmly (although there is an indoor section as well).
The picture above shows just how close to the top you are when you ascend to the 3rd floor. The following picture, taken on this floor, is of something one can expect in Paris, the city of love:
“Love Padlocks” have become quite a phenomenon – couples engrave their names onto padlocks and then lock them onto fences (usually fences created for this purpose, which the Eiffel Tower is not!) as a symbol of them “locking” their souls together.
In winter, for about a month, an ice-rink is set up on the 1st floor, with free skate rental! All you pay is the fee to get up there (either by lift or stairs).
The flashing lights, loud music (mostly English), cafe/bar and general good mood is really worth a visit. Thanks to the Tour Eiffel for this generous opportunity!
Another sight you won’t want to miss (which you probably won’t as it’s visible from far away) is the hourly lighting up of the Tower during the evenings. For about 5 minutes, lights flash all over the Tower making for a truly beautiful moment which can be seen on this link.
Outside the Eiffel Tower you will be bombarded by hawkers selling miniature Eiffel Tower replicas. A local told me that 1 million of them are made every year which begs the question of who buys them?! Besides the little keychains and models, Eiffel Tower paraphernalia has become quite creative and varied, and I will end this entry with a collection of photos that I acquired over time.