Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol of Paris and arguably one of the most famous monuments located anywhere in the world. This 1,000-foot-tall iron tower looms over the adjacent Trocadero and Quai Branly Museum, providing showstopping views of landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, and the whole 360-degree expanse of metro Paris. Its three floors contain observation decks, restaurants, gift shops, interactive exhibits, and more.

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History of the Eiffel Tower

The origins of the Eiffel Tower can be traced back to the run-up to the Exposition Universelle, a kind of world’s fair-like event scheduled for 1889 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Organizers solicited bids for the construction of a massive iron structure on the Champ de Mars, and the winning proposal was the handiwork of the engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, both of whom worked for Gustave Eiffel’s company. As the project got underway, the architect Stephen Sauvestre would also add an assortment of design features to the blueprints.

Excavations for the foundation of the Tower began in January of 1887, with the first iron being put in place by July of the same year. It’s said that over 300 people worked to build the Eiffel Tower, which required 18,000 pieces of metal, 2.5-million rivets, 7,300 tons of iron, and 60 tons of paint to complete. The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated on March 31, 1889. Believe it or not, the Eiffel was not initially a hit with the public—many observers decried the monument as too large and rather unattractive, taking issue with its prominent placement within the city—and was even originally intended to be deconstructed in 1909, after its 20-year Exposition Universelle lease expired. That is, however, distant history, as Paris without its Eiffel Tower is unimaginable today.

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, France

Eiffel Tower Highlights

There are three levels to explore when visiting the Eiffel Tower. The first floor of the Eiffel Tower is famous for its glass floor, which allows guests to feel as if they’re floating above the ground-level Esplanade roughly 200 feet in the air. The first floor’s 15,000-square-feet footprint has a charming terrace where you can sit and relax and soak up the memorable ambiance, interactive displays with museum-like facts about the Tower, a gift shop, fast-casual buffet, and a well-regarded restaurant.

The second floor of the Eiffel Tower is located nearly 400 feet in the air and provides visitors with remarkable, 360-degree views of Paris; it’s the perfect spot for that selfie that’ll serve as your profile picture for years to come. With almost 5,000 square feet of space to work with, the second floor has a Michelin-star restaurant, two gift shops, and another fast-casual buffet.

The very top of the Eiffel Tower has two floors situated about 900 feet above the ground—one of which is open-air, the other enclosed. Here you’ll find a historical reproduction of Gustave Eiffel’s office, a 1:50 scale model of the Tower that dates to 1889 and is still painted in the attraction’s original “red-brown” color, and a romantic champagne bar. And, of course, the views on display from the top of the Eiffel Tower are something else!

More to See and Do at the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is a quintessential Paris destination. Here are several more things to keep in mind as you plan your visit.

•The official Eiffel Tower visitor’s guide is available as a free app that you can open up right on your smartphone. This handy resource provides guests with easy access to historical facts, practical information, and a whole lot more. You can even test your Eiffel Tower knowledge by taking the guide’s fun quiz!

•Depending on what you want to prioritize during your Eiffel Tower visit, there are numerous ticket packages available: for instance, some cover admission to the first floor, others get you to the second floor; some come with a glass of champagne, others require you to take the stairs. Regardless of which ticket package you choose, consider buying your ticket or pass online in advance; this will significantly reduce the amount of time you’re liable to stand in line waiting at the attraction.

•There are four different dining options for those visitors wanting to partake in a meal while touring the Eiffel Tower. Madame Brasserie, helmed by Michelin-star chef Thierry Marx, serves responsibly sourced meals off a seasonal menu on the first floor of the Tower. On the second floor you’ll find Jules Verne, which specializes in contemporary French gourmet cuisine, offers guests spectacular views, and itself has won a Michelin star. Throughout each level of the attraction, visitors desiring something a bit more casual can grab meals and snacks to go from a buffet. Last but not least, located at the very top of the Eiffel Tower is the elegant Champagne Bar.

•There are gift shops on the Eiffel Tower’s esplanade, first floor, and second floor. Each one of these stores has a number of specialty items for sale, from souvenirs to home-décor products to textiles and more.

•Whether you plan on visiting the Eiffel Tower after dark or you know you’ll be in its vicinity during the evening hours, keep in mind that the world-famous lights of the Eiffel Tower light up every hour on the hour for five minutes. This illuminating show is not to be missed.

Why the Eiffel Tower Should Be on Your Must-See List

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but it’s hard to even contemplate visiting Paris and not making time to experience the Eiffel Tower in person; after all, it’s high on the list of “world’s most popular tourist attractions” for a reason. Among the most recognizable structures on the planet, the Eiffel Tower has long been a landmark of human engineering and a symbol of French national pride. The views of Paris from its three accessible levels are truly magnificent, and well worth any time you might have to spend waiting in line. Put the Eiffel Tower on your Paris must-see list today.