Before we went to Paris, we read an article on what you absolutely "must" do. It also had some tips on what you shouldn't do - what you could leave out without it affecting your trip. One of these was the Eiffel Tower.
I wish I could find the author of that piece and tell him straight. If you're in Paris, particularly with kids, you have to visit the Tour Eiffel. Otherwise, there's just no point being there. This may not be true if it's a place you come to often, but if it's your first time, then it's a must!
When my son asked if we could go to Paris. He said it was because he really wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower. Doesn't that say it all? Once the tallest building in the world (it's over 300 metres high) it's a brilliant place, with the most remarkable views. The word is often used, but this really is iconic.
We were very fortunate that we visited on a beautiful Autumn day, with a clear blue sky. We had also booked in advance and I can't stress how vital this is. As we neared the tower, we saw the queues snaking around and around. But there was literally no queue at all for us, with our pre-booked tickets. We simply walked through security and were in the lift after about, ooh, five minutes.
If you are with kids, you really won't want to hang around for hours before going up the Tower, so this is my main piece of advice. It was the only thing we pre-booked for our entire trip.
We had booked to go all the way to the top, and you should definitely do this. Otherwise, if you (or your kids) decide that they want to go up another level while you are inside, you will have to queue again (sigh). The views at the top are also so brilliant. When you come down again to level 2, it actually feels quite near to the ground.
Of course, you can always walk, and many would recommend this, though probably not with young children. We decided the lift was a better option than hundreds of steps! We only walked between the two small parts of level 2.
Going up in the lift is a bit of a squash, but it only takes a minute or so before you are on the second level (the first level has a restaurant, but no one got out when we stopped there). We quickly took the lift up again to the top, although there was about a 15 minute queue for this, which would presumably be longer at busy times, such as the summer. If you are travelling with kids, this would be a good time to give them a snack/game/your phone to play with.
The Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the World Exhibition in 1889. It's made out of 12,000 iron pieces, and at the time it was the tallest structure in the world (this title remained until the completion of the Chrysler Building in 1930), but it was meant to be a temporary one. There were contemporary complaints that this huge "object" was not a suitable fit for Parisian architecture, but luckily those complaints are long gone. It is, instead, a symbol of the city, able to be seen from so many angles.
Despite the people at the top, many drinking a celebratory glass of champagne, we didn't feel rushed or hurried. It was, simply, beautiful.
After walking around the top, we did the same on level 2 where there are souvenir shops and food outlets. You may experience some pester power here, but there are some affordable things in the shops. Be warned also, that you may have to queue for the lift back down again.
We really loved our visit, from the walk from Bir-Hakeim metro station, across a small park, to the shadow of the Tower we could see reflected in the Seine. Paris without the Eiffel Tower? Unthinkable.
We pre-booked our tickets, which cost 14.5 Euros per adult and 10 Euros for children. We thought this was pretty good value.
Our tips for visiting the Eiffel Tower:
1) Do it!
2) Book in advance, and when you arrive, look for the signs for "Entree Visiteurs Avec Reservation" (Visitors with Reservations).
3) Go all the way to the top
4) Dress up warmly
5) Take your camera and video!
6) Go at night if you can or watch the sunset (we didn't do this, but know it would have been magnificent)
7) Don't rush it - take your time going round
8) Look around the base of the Tower too - the architecture is extremely impressive
9) If you want a brilliant view of the Tower afterwards (although there are many in Paris), walk over to the Trocadero afterwards and get snap happy.
10) The Tower lights up at night, for around five minutes each hour. Try to be outside to see this while you are in Paris. We saw it from Montmartre and it was fabulous.
Watch our video of going to Paris!
Labels: Eiffel Tower, Paris, Paris with kids