World Travel GuidesEiffel Tower, Paris

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The Eiffel Tower, or Tour Eiffel in French, is one of the most recognised icon of Paris, France and French culture. It is built of iron, and is located at the Champ de Mars (Field of Mars, the Greek god), beside the River Seine, in Paris, France. Designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is still the tallest structure in Paris.

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower is the world's most visited monument, with over 200 million people having been recorded as visited it, and close to 7 million in the year 2006 alone.

Eiffel Tower is 324m (1063ft) tall, including a 24m (79ft) antenna. This is equivalent to the height of a 81-storey building.

Upon its completion in 1889, it became the tallest building in the world at a height of 300m, pushing the Washington Monument in Washington DC to second place. It held this title till 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York surpassed it, at 319m. When I first wrote this page, the Eiffel Tower was the fifth tallest structure in France, but someone informed that that, as of October 2011, it has slipped to 8th position (and I suppose it will continue to fall behind the list as time passes).

Eiffel Tower as seen from the base
Eiffel Tower as seen from the base

Made of iron, the Eiffel Tower was originally intended for the 1888 Universal Exposition in Barcelona, but they rejected it. It ended up being built for the Paris Expo, the Exposition Universelle which marked the centennial of the French Revolution.

It was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and was opened to the public on 6 May. At the time it was built, it met with much criticism -- Parisians were shocked to find such a massive tower being placed in their city - novelist Guy de Maupassant ridiculed it by having lunch at its restaurant every day; asked why, he claimed it was the only place in Paris where he couldn't see the tower.

Eiffel Tower looking down from above
Eiffel Tower looking down from above
Matthias Jauernig

Eiffel Tower from the Seine
Eiffel Tower from the Seine,_Aug_2010.jpg
Julie Anne Workman
The people also accused Eiffel of creating a structure that is artistic - or inartistic - without regard to engineering.

How to go to the Eiffel Tower

By Metro, you can disembark at the following stations:
  • Bir-Hakeim (Ligne 6) - for direct access, two minute walk from here
  • École Militaire (Ligne 8) - to enjoy a nice walk up the Champ de Mars towards the tower
  • Trocadéro (Ligne 6 or 9) - for the best views and photo opportunities of the tower

    Admission Details

    Be prepared for long queues - over six million people visit it every year. There are tickets to take you to level one (57m/187 ft), level two (120m/394ft) and level three (280m/918ft). Entrance fees up the Eiffel Tower is 11.50 euros for adults, by elevator to the top. There are double-decker elevators at the north, west and east foot of the tower, but usually only one or two will be operational at any one time.

    You can also buy ticket to climb the stairs, up to level two. For more details, check out the Eiffel Tower website (see external links below). The tower is opened from 9:30am to 11:45pm every day, with extended hours from 9:00am to 12:45am.

    What to see

    People go up the tower for the view, of course. At level two, there's a glass floor allowing you to look down at the ground 120 meters / 394 feet below. At level 3, on a clear day, you can see forever, or almost, or 75 km / 46 miles, to be precise. Even if your nerves allow you to reach only the first or second levels, the view is stupendous.

    Photography enthusiasts will know that the best time to be at Eiffel Tower is just before sunset. That's when the light is best. And then, as night engulfs Paris, the city lights up with hundreds of thousands of lights. The tower itself is transformed into a glittering spectacle, courtesy of over 10,000 light bulbs.

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