Known the world over, reproduced on everything from canvases to fridge magnets and arguably Paris’ greatest icon: of course, it’s the Eiffel Tower. She may not be home to the President, but she could certainly be considered France’s First Lady.
This emblematic structure of the French capital is nestled in the cosy green carpet of the Champ de Mars opposite the Trocadéro Gardens, on the banks of the River Seine. Before you book your tickets, here are a few facts, a bit of history, the latest improvements, and what you can see and do at the tower.
How tall is the Eiffel Tower?
Standing at 300 metres tall, the structure affords those intrepid enough to climb the 1,665 steps – as well as those who prefer the lift – awe-inspiring 360⁰ views across Paris’ cityscape. The tower was described by poet Jean Cocteau as “the beautiful lace giraffe” and is arranged over three accessible floors.
Are there shops and restaurants at the Eiffel Tower?
Absolutely – the tower boasts restaurants, shops and a top-floor champagne bar. Head up the first flight of stairs (or up to the first floor in the lift) and you’ll come to the widest of the tower’s levels. Home to the 58 Restaurant, gift shops and an exhibition tracing the tower’s history and development over the years, the first floor also boasts an impressive glass floor that covers the open section of the structure. Standing here is not for the faint-hearted!
If you’re feeling romantic, the Jules Verne restaurant on the second floor offers spectacular views of the city from the comfort of a chic, modern French establishment. It also has a Michelin star, having started life under chef Alain Ducasse and having now newly reopened under Frédéric Anton and Thierry Marx. Named after the intrepid author of Around The World in 80 Days, this is the spot for an evening you’ll never forget – 125 metres up.
The tower’s final stop is the third floor, at 276 metres, where you can sip champagne while admiring the view across Paris. Come up here at night, and you’ll and witness the city – and the tower itself – beautifully illuminated. And for five minutes on the hour every hour, the tower puts on a spectacular sparkle display, adding a touch of extra magic!
What’s the history of the Eiffel Tower?
Built in 1889, it’s amazing to think that this French emblem almost never came into existence. Gustave Eiffel’s project to build the “Iron Lady” for the Universal Exhibition in Paris was met with fierce opposition. Naysayers deemed the tower “useless” and “monstrous”, but the engineer dismissed his critics, stating that his tower symbolised “not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living”. It took two years, two months, and five days for Eiffel and his team to deliver this iconic symbol of France’s contribution to modern society.
How has the Eiffel Tower been preserved?
Despite being almost 200 years old, the world’s most visited paid-for monument hasn’t aged much. Between 1985 and 1990, it underwent various makeovers which added four new lifts – one for each pillar – and saw 1,343 tons of weight shed from the iron structure. After two years of renovation and a €30 million investment, the first floor fully reopened with its impressive non-slip glass floor in 2014, adding a new angle from which to view the tower and its Paris surroundings.
Find out more: