Our last day in Paris was jam-packed. We spent the morning and early afternoon in Giverny touring the beautiful gardens of Monet. After a quick dinner mishap resulting from language barriers, we quite literally ran to our scheduled tour of the Eiffel Tower. Originally we had a bit of trouble deciding whether to ascend the tower during the day or night, but eventually settled on a nighttime viewing, thinking it’d be a bit different and hopefully less crowded. (Hint: it didn’t seem less crowded.)
Although we read the lines were shorter in the evening, we still wanted to bypass them and ended up booking a tour with Viator. Our “tour” was about $50/person – it included a brief introduction to the history of the tower and then we simply bypassed the entrance lines and went on our way. After the mini-history briefing from the tour guide and entering the Tower, we were on our own.
We got through security fast enough, and the tickets were worth it; there were still extensive lines even at 9:00pm. We had to wait a bit for the elevator, which was the size of a small room. There were easily about 30 people in it at a time. I can’t say I’ve ever ridden an elevator at an angle before!
The research we did beforehand suggested that most people preferred the view from the second level of the tower, and I can see why. High enough to overlook the city, but low enough that the buildings didn’t look ant-sized (unintentional Zoolander reference).
Most people probably know that the Eiffel Tower was designed to be the centerpiece of Paris’ 1889 Exposition Universelle, which marked the hundredth anniversary of the revolution. Our guide told us that the tower was never intended to be a permanent structure though; it was originally set to be dismantled 20 years later. However, the tower proved to be a great asset for telecommunications, so it was allowed to continue standing. Today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, totaling more than 200 million visitors in total.
The view from the second floor was as good as promised, even if it was still crowded at night. There was plenty of shuffling around and we didn’t have a hard time getting right against the railing for the best views. I’ve only done this at night, but I’m still happy with our choice of night over day. If I ever went back I would push our tour time up by an hour though, because you can stay as long as you want. It seems ideal to catch the last of daylight, dusk, and nighttime all in one go.
After the second floor we took a smaller elevator to the third and final level. At the very top of the Tower you could purchase a 12€ ($15) glass of champagne if you were so inclined. We weren’t inclined, so instead busied ourselves with the wraparound display shown below. It showed almost all, if not every country’s tallest building to scale, comparing with the Eiffel Tower. The United States somehow got two comparisons of buildings; perhaps it’s assumed that most people who had visited the states were able to visit either the Washington Monument or the Empire State Building.
At the top of the tower we did a quick walk around, but it was getting a bit windy and brisk, so we didn’t stay for too long. (In very strong winds the tower can sway up to 5″!) Aside from the sheer height factor, I think we were both more impressed with the views from the second level.
Two elevator rides later we were back on the ground. The tower looks absolutely stunning at night, when the bronze paint is completely lit against a dark background. One of my favorite parts about the Eiffel Tower were all of the famous scientists of the 1800s whose names were engraved on the sides. I didn’t think to look during this trip, and may not have seen them at all when it was dark, but on my first trip to Paris it was exciting to count how many names I recognized from previous physics classes.
Even though we had exited the Tower, we still had some amazing views as we walked away. It was a perfect ending note for our Paris trip.
The next day we packed up and managed to successfully navigate our way to the airport. There was a flip-flop incident, but other than that our flight back to the states was much less eventful than our flight to Paris. We had a wonderful time; both of us are already dreaming big about where we’d like to travel to next.