9 Things to Know Before you Visit the Eiffel Tower

As of yesterday, the Eiffel Tower is 126 years old! Not bad for a building that was only meant to be temporary, and torn down after 20 years. When it was unveiled in 1889, it wasn’t popular with the Parisians, but today it’s one of Paris‘ best-loved icons and attracts more visitors than any other paid attraction in the world.

Eiffel Tower

1. A case of mistaken identity

It was built for the World Fair in 1889, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the towers namesake, gets all the glory, but he actually rejected the initial idea of the tower, which was the brainchild of his employee Maurice Koechlin. Can you imagine if it was called the Koechlin Tower?

2. It wasn’t an instant hit

When it opened, it was nearly 10,000 feet tall & the tallest building in the world – a title it held for 40+ years, until it was surpassed by NYC’s Chrysler building in 1931. Many Parisians hated the tower, calling it an eyesore and a monstrosity.

French novelist Guy de Maupassant took his distaste to the extreme, often eating lunch at the restaurant in the base of the tower, claiming it was one of the few places he could eat without having the ugly tower obstruct his view.

3. It’s role in Paris’ history

The tower has had many purposes, and found it’s saving grace in its potential to be used in radio-telecommunications, which stopped city officials from tearing it down in 1909. It was used for this purpose in World War I, and during the German occupation of Paris in the second world war, French resistance fighters cut the cables of the elevators so that the Germany army had to use the stairs.

French newspaper Le Figaro had an office on the second floor – can you imagine having such an iconic office? In the 1930s, French car manufacturer Citroen became the first (and last) brand to use the tower as advertising space, plastering billboards on three sides.

Imagine the uproar if a company tried to stick billboards all over the tower today!

Eiffel Tower at Sunrise

4. You can book your tickets online

I can’t believe I’ve made this mistake twice now! I always forget to book online and it would seriously have saved me so much time. You can book tickets here.

Eiffel Tower

5. Elevator Up, Walk Down

If you don’t have a problem with the height, walking down the stairs will save you time. The queue to get down from the Eiffel Tower is just as long and slow moving as the queue to get to the top. I don’t like heights, but the walking down the tower didn’t bother me – I felt really safe, could go as fast or slow as I wanted and the tower isn’t that tall, by the modern world’s standards.

It’s not fast since there are a lot of stairs, but I think it beats squishing up in a queue for ages.

View from the eiffel tower tips for visiting

6. Go ice skating in winter

In winter, the first floor hosts an ice skating rink! I went ice skating on the tower in 2013, it was so much fun – even for someone with zero balance, like me.

7. Don’t forget to find other views

Visiting the Eiffel Tower is great, but for a really beautiful view, find a vantage point where you get a view of the tower and Paris. I like the views from Tour Montparnasse, the Bateaux Mouches Seine Cruise and the Arc de Triomphe, but you can also try climbing to the top of Notre Dame or the Pantheon.

Tips for visiting the Eiffel Tower

Paris view from Tour Montparnasse at night

8. Picnic with a perfect view

When I was studying in Paris, I had a huge picnic with my friends on the Champ de Mars, underneath the Eiffel Tower. I can’t think of a more perfect place in Paris for a picnic!

Paris picnic under the eiffel tower

9. Don’t miss the show 

The Eiffel Tower is especially beautiful every evening, when it glitters for five minutes, every hour on the hour. The best vantage point is from the Trocadero, but anywhere that you can see a glittering Eiffel Tower is a pretty good place to be, in my opinion.

Have you visited the Eiffel Tower? Do you have any tips?

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6 thoughts on “9 Things to Know Before you Visit the Eiffel Tower

  1. These are really great suggestions. Unfortunately, I’ve only been around the Eiffel Tour. It was very costly for me back then with a student budget , next time I go I won’t definitely miss it 🙂

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