Panorama of Parisian rooftops and the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower rises amongst Parisian rooftops
One of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire world, the Eiffel Tower is an absolute must-visit when you’re in Paris!

No matter the season, the views from the Tower are spectacular, as is the Eiffel Tower itself. In this article, we’ll explore the history of France’s beloved iron lady, and give you practical information to make the most of your visit to the Eiffel Tower!

History of the Eiffel Tower

Picture of the Eiffel Tower under construction in Paris
The Eiffel Tower was constructed in Paris for the 1889 World Fair
In 1889, Paris hosted a World Fair to celebrate the French Revolution’s centennial. Gustave Eiffel’s company came up with a design for the Eiffel Tower to function as the centerpiece for the exhibition. Construction on the iron lattice tower began in 1887, and not without some controversy. Several prominent figures in Paris protested against the erection of the tower, who felt it would spoil the Parisian skyline. Despite the protests, construction of the tower continued, and the Eiffel Tower was opened during the 1889 Exhibition. It became the tallest structure in the world and was a big success among visitors of the exhibition.

Initially, the plan was to tear down the tower after 20 years, as it was supposed to be a temporary addition to the Parisian skyline. However, the city council decided to keep it even after 1909, because the tower proved most useful for communication purposes. At the start of the First World War, the radio transmitters on top of the tower even jammed German communications, which slowed their advance on Paris significantly. Over the years, the perception of the tower among Parisians has changed. They, like visitors from all over the world, have come to love the cultural icon of France. Millions of people still visit the Eiffel Tower every year.

Practical Visitor Information for the Eiffel Tower

If you want to visit the Eiffel Tower, you can take the Paris metro to the following stations: Trocadéro (line 9) or Bir-Hakeim (line 6). Alternatively, you can also take the RER to Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel (line C).

The Eiffel Tower is open every day of the year, but opening times do differ depending on the season. From June 15th to the 1st of September, the tower is open from 9 am to midnight. The rest of the year, the Eiffel Tower is open from 9.30 am to 11 p.m.

Image of the Eiffel Tower basking in sunlight in Paris
Sunlight illuminates the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Photo by Jean Michel Beau.
Being one of the most popular landmarks in Paris, the lines for the Eiffel Tower can get long. One way to skip the lines is to buy your tickets to the Eiffel Tower online at the Eiffel Tower’s official website. Do note you can only buy elevator entrance tickets: if you prefer to take the stairs, you’ll have to buy tickets at the ticket office at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Stairs tickets are cheaper, but are only valid to the 2nd floor. If you want to visit the top of the tower, you’ll have to buy an elevator ticket. However, if you’re in good shape, taking the stairs is a great option. The views are more impressive than if you take the elevator, and if you don’t suffer from vertigo the climb can be quite a thrill.

Another way to avoid long lines is to visit the tower during non-peak times. Summer season is the busiest time of year, so visiting the Eiffel Tower off-season is an option. Do note that sometimes the top floor of the tower is closed off in cases of severe weather. When it comes to hours, you’ll also have a better chance of beating the crowds by visiting the tower early in the morning or late in the evening. At those times the tower also has an entirely different charm. For instance, at night you’ll get to see why Paris is called the City of Lights!

If you buy your tickets online or decide to go early in the day or later at night, it’s convenient to stay in an apartment close to the Eiffel Tower, so you won’t have to hurry across town. We have many vacation rental apartments in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris that are even within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. These vacation rentals will give you the chance to experience Paris as a local, right from your comfortable apartment with a top location. Just imagine staying in an apartment such as this 1-bedroom rental in Invalides, which has an actual view of the Eiffel Tower right from the bedroom and kitchen!

What to Do on the Eiffel Tower

Pictures of the view from the Eiffel Tower in Paris
View of Paris seen from the Eiffel Tower
Once you’re up on the Eiffel Tower, make sure to take the time to soak in the magnificent views! From the tower you’ll have views of major Paris landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Seine River, the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, the Champ de Mars and much more.

Also don’t forget to bring a camera, as you’ll probably want to take more than a couple of pictures. Do note that if you want to take professional photo equipment up on the tower you’ll need prior written authorization by the Eiffel Tower’s operating company.

Inside the Eiffel Tower there’s also much to see and do. On the first floor of the tower you’ll often find temporary exhibitions. For the kids there’s a free tour where they can learn more about the tower. The first floor also contains a souvenir shop and the 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant where you can enjoy a tasty lunch or dinner with splendid views. As of September 2012, the first floor is undergoing renovations, so check the official Eiffel Tower website for the most recent info. If all goes according to schedule, the 1st floor will have new public spaces, such as a cultural path, a new pavilion and a new room for events in 2013.

The second floor of the Eiffel Tower boasts no less than 3 souvenir shops, a food buffet and story windows that tell the story of the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
You can also find the exclusive Le Jules Verne restaurant on this floor. The restaurant offers contemporary cuisine, from lunch to dinner. The spectacular views and luxurious setting make it a very romantic option for dining in Paris. If you want to be sure of a table, you can easily make a reservation online at the Le Jules Verne’s official website.

Finally, the top of the tower contains Gustave Eiffel’s office with wax models, and a champagne bar!

Explore the Area around the Eiffel Tower

View of Paris’ Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower
Champ de Mars seen from the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Before or after your visit to the Eiffel Tower, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the area surrounding the tower: the 7th Arrondissement of Paris. The Eiffel Tower is part of the park Champ de Mars, which contains wide lawns that are perfect for a picnic. At night, this is also a great place to watch the Eiffel Tower light up, as every hour on the hour the tower is illuminated by 20,000 light bulbs.

Picture of an illuminated Eiffel Tower at night in Paris
The Eiffel Tower illuminates the Parisian sky at night
At the south-eastern end of the Champ de Mars you’ll find the imposing École Militaire. To the north-west lies the Seine River, which separates the Eiffel Tower from the northern bank of the city. From the River or from one of the many bridges that cross it, you can often get a gorgeous unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. Across the Seine River you’ll find the Gardens of the Trocadéro. The gardens feature fountains and sculptures, and slope down towards the Eiffel Tower. The Trocadéro itself is the site of the Chaillot Palace, which is now the location of several museums.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to one of Paris’ most famous landmarks! Have you ever climbed the stairs of the Eiffel Tower?