This is a question we asked ourselves before we came to Paris. The view from the Eiffel Tower is grand, that much we know, but so are the wait times to get up there. Our decision was to decide once we’re there.
We started our visit at the Palais Trocadéro, opposite the Eiffel Tower.
Palais du Trocadéro
The Palais du Trocadéro was opened in 1878 for the World Exhibition in Paris. It was used as a museum until 1937.
In 1937 the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life (Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne) was held in Paris. All of the main section of the building of the Palais du Trocadéro was removed, only the wings remained. The main section was not replaced until today. Instead, from this open space one has the most beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.
The gardens of Trocadéro are framed by the still existing wings of the building. Stairs lead past a water feature along the Seine over to the Eiffel Tower.
We started by walking onto the open space between the wings of the building. Sadly, it was almost impossible to enjoy the view from here as we got constantly approached by salespeople with their souvenirs. If I had bought something from each and every one of them I would have come home with 10 sunglasses, 3 sun hats, 20 miniature Eiffel Towers and multiple water bottles.
But the view of the Eiffel Tower is great. As we stood, I thought back to 1991 when we first came to Paris and stood in exactly the same spot. I even found a picture from back then!
So much time has passed! A little over ten years later, in 2003, we visited Paris with our daughter. I also found a picture from that trip (left). The picture on the right is from 2017. Not much has changed.
After we walked down the stairs to the fountain, we enjoyed the lovely view of the Palais du Trocadéro.
We continued across the Seine to the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower – historic
La Tour Eiffel is the landmark of Paris. The iron truss tower rises 324 meters from the Seine embankment.
The Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 and was used as the main gate and viewing tower for the World Exhibition in 1889. The architect in charge was Gustave Eiffel who also gave his name to the Tower.
The Tower is made from wrought iron. The separate pieces were made in a workshop and then pieced together on site. Ever piece was exactly drawn and planned in advance. There is a drawing of every single one of the 18038 pieces of the tower. Around 250 people worked on the Eiffel Tower during its construction period. Many of them were chimney sweeps as they were so accustomed to working in great hights.
The Eiffel Tower was officially inaugurated on the 31st of March 1889. Because the elevator wasn’t finished yet, a delegation climbed the stairs to fly the French flag at the top. The general public was only allowed to go up the Eiffel Tower as part of the World Exhibition. It was and still is common practice that visitors pay different ticket prices depending on how high up they want to go. Just shy of 2 million visitors climbed the Eiffel Tower during the World Exhibition which recouped about ¾ of the cost of construction.
Since the first public radio station started broadcasting in 1921 the Eiffel Tower was used as a radio tower. The Eiffel Tower came under monument protection in 1964 and part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1991.
At the moment about 7 million paying visitors climb the Eiffel Tower every year.
Do we go up the Eiffel Tower or not?
When we visited Paris in 2003 we must have been really lucky. As far as I can remember, we didn’t really have to wait too long before we could proceed to our destination: The top of the Tower.
Back then there weren’t any fenced off areas around the Tower or any bag checks. But already all these years ago in 2003 prices to go up the Tower weren’t exactly cheap: 7€ for adults and 3,90€ for children up to the age of 11.
In 2003 we enjoyed the view from the Eiffel Tower a lot. My husband and child even walked down from the second floor.
Now, it is the year 2017. Like many other buildings, the Eiffel Tower has security barriers all around it. We had to pass through a security check before we were able to access the area underneath the Tower. That went quicker than we expected, we were through the barriers after about ten minutes.
What a spectacular sight! These massive steel trusses with their many beams – almost like an enormous cobweb unfolding overhead. Within this network of trusses and beams, visitors can get to the top of the Tower either on foot or via the elevator.
One destination for every visit to the Eiffel Tower is the spot underneath the Tower right in the centre. From here, one can see all the way to the top and it was also here where I became aware of the incredible dimensions of this structure.
Our next steps were to check out all the access points for the way to the top, be it on foot or via the elevator. Here, too, visitors are led through another security check before they can start queuing in long, winding lines.
All of the queues were quite busy, the estimated waiting time was 80 minutes. Even the queues for the pre-purchased online tickets were 30 minutes long.
Then we saw the prices and our jaws dropped. 17€ for the lift all the way to the top. That’s quite something.
The Eiffel Tower has three levels that can be visited. The first level is 58 meters high, the second one is at a height of 115 meters. These two storeys can be reached on foot, the third and final one at 276 meters can only be reached via the elevator.
There are souvenir shops and restaurants at the two lower levels, the old office of Gustave Eiffel is on the third level.
New is the glass floor of the first level that allows a view down to the square below the Tower.
In the end, we decided not to go to the top. I am sure that the view has changed in the last 14 years but probably not that much. We rather wait another 14 years, when the changes will probably be more drastic.
Still, visiting the area around and underneath the Eiffel Tower is a must see in Paris. I would not have missed this spectacular sight for anything.
Palais du Trocadéro
Place du Trocadéro
Champ de Mars
5 Avenue Anatole France
Opening Hours Eiffel Tower (2017):
Mid-June to early September: 09:00 – 00:45
Mid-September to early June: 09:30 – 23:45 (elevator), 09:30 – 18:30 (stairs)
Adults (25 and older)
Ticket stairs: 7€
Lift to 2nd floor: 11€
Lift to the top: 17€
Discounted tickets are available