would be hard pressed to find anybody who posed a vacant
look when asked if they had heard of the Eiffel Tower.
It stands as one of the world’s most recognised
landmarks, and is visible across most parts of Paris.
I’m not sure what
the general consensus on the Eiffel Tower is with local
Parisians. At the time it was built it met with a lot
of derision and scorn, with at least 300 prominent Parisians
petitioning against its erection. This disdain from
the Parisians, may also be true to a degree today; my
girlfriend (a Parisian) certainly has no fondness for
this iron framed protrusion, but then she did work a
short period in one of its restaurants, and so her own
opinion is somewhat biased. I see it as a welcomed friend.
Whenever I feel lost within the city, you can usually
catch a glimpse of it between streets, looming over
the historic architecture that transports Paris back
into a worldly era. On a cloudy day its iron mass can
be a dark, hard and lifeless blight on the skyline,
but at night, it illuminates and glows (and twinkles
quite ferociously on the hour in an impressive light
display; whether tacky or not is down to individual
Photo: Sunrise at the Eiffel Tower.
It was very early; I was very tired.
the opposition and claims that it would collapse, manipulate
Paris’ weather or act as a lightening rod to kill
all the fish in the Seine, Gustave Eiffel, persevered
to build the same tower we know today, far outliving
its conceived lifespan. These days the Eiffel Tower
draws scores of tourists. I always remember the school
rumours that if a penny dropped from the top of the
Eiffel Tower it would embed in the skull and kill a
person; fortunately with a little more age, I can put
rest to such playground banter, but it might sting a
little! There are around 4 suicides a year from the
tower however, but I’ve never heard of a case
of a falling body landing on an innocent bystander below.
There is one more thing I must mention before I can
look into the positive side of things (don’t cancel
your planned visit yet!), and that is do not fall victim
to the usual tourist traps. Where there is scores of
tourists, you will find people wanting your money. By
all means it is your money to do and give to whom you
please, but you will find a lot of sellers pushing trinkets
of the Eiffel Tower who will most likely approach you.
You may also find women asking if you speak English.
If you respond, they will show you a placard with a
generic tale of hardship, wanting money. I will leave
the moral dilemmas to my reader, but it is something
to bear in mind, as few people can escape it. If you’re
not interested then it is better to simply ignore them
and avoid eye contact.
|GETTING TO THE EIFFEL TOWER
On a nice day, if
you’re near the Seine and anywhere near some of
the tourist sites – e.g. Notre Dame, Orsay Museum,
Place de la Concorde or the Louvre… it doesn’t
take too long to follow the river west, and finding
the tower would only prove difficult on the foggiest
of days. I’ve always approached the Eiffel Tower
from the metro station ‘Trocadero’ on line
9, but that is only because I live just a few stops
down on this line. When you come up from Trocadero on
line 9, you do not immediately see the Eiffel Tower,
but as you walk a few steps forward and look around
the corner of the building, there is a large open viewing
platform, and a great view across to the Tower. You
would then need to walk down the steps and across to
the tower, but it is not far. Alternatively you can
take line 6 to Bir-Hakeim and either walk from there,
or according to the map, you can change train at Bir-Hakeim
and catch one train stop to Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel,
which I imagine would pretty much take you somewhere
extremely close to the tower.
Photo: A view of apartments from the
If you choose to walk the Eiffel tower’s steps, you’ll
find the queues far kinder, and unlike the steps, the price
less steep. The stairs really aren’t too bad; you can
take them two at a time as I once did with my brother during
a whirlwind tour of Paris (something I cannot recommend),
but there are a lot of them. By the time you reach the second
stage, you will have to take an elevator to reach the very
top regardless. There’s a pay booth near the final elevator
where you can purchase a ticket for the end of the journey.
Although it is human nature to want to scale the top of things,
the views from the second floor will give you an excellent
bird’s eye view, and if you forego the last leg of the
journey you needn’t feel you missed out on too much,
except the scenery being that little bit smaller.
Photo: View from First Floor of Eiffel Tower.
(you can go much higher)
million visitors a year
||324 metres (1063 feet)
||2 years, 2 months, 5 days
||300 Steel workers, laboured on its construction
||Painted every 7 years, using 50 tonnes of paint.
Requires 25 men painting throughout the year.
||Built to withstand the elements, it can sway 6
or 7 cm.
For more information about the Eiffel Tower,
please click here.