Monday, September 27
You can’t go to Paris for the first time and not visit the Eiffel Tower! Does anyone know anyone who doesn’t have a fear of heights who didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower? We don’t! I suppose that as Americans trying at least to act like Parisians and mimic their ways, we should have not gone up. I mean, how many times does the average Parisian go up the tower? I know when I was living in California I could stand Disneyland or the Queen Mary or Universal Studios only so many times. But hey, for this night we shed our Parisian personas and became tourists, albeit polite tourists, and took off for this magnificent thing that Gustave Eiffel created for the 1889 Worlds Fair in Paris. (For a good history of the tower, click here. It’s really interesting, with many facts and factoids I’ll guarantee you never knew. For example, did you know they were going to take it down in 1908?)
We decided early on that we wanted to visit the Eiffel tower at nighttime and during the day. People call Paris the ‘City of Light’ so what better time to see that light than at night when the cityscape lit with millions of points of light, when the tower itself is bathed in lights of many kinds and colors, the Arc de Triomphe all lit up, Notre Dame all lit up, Sacre Coeur all lit up, Les Invalides all lit up. It’s really something to see! And we saw it on a moonlit night with the moon still rather reddish from the night before!
So Monday night was our night trip up Tour Eiffel (French Lesson: Tour is French for Tower, something I didn’t know until we came here!).
Wisely we got our tickets on the Internet two months before.
(Important Note if you’re thinking about coming here and visiting Eiffel: There are two ways to buy tickets for this attraction. 1) in person at the tower in a two-hour line; or 2) online. But you have to buy them a) two months ahead of when you plan to be there, and b) you have to be ready to get them FAST at 8:30 am Paris time on the appointed two-months-ahead-of-time day because ALL of the advance tickets will be snapped up in five minutes or less, as I found out in two frenzied middle of the night sessions (8:30 am in Paris is 12:30 am in Denver). Fortunately we did get our tickets ahead of time. NO LINES. It’s definitely the way to go!
As with all attractions in Paris, you go through a security check. They tell you to have photo id handy (passport preferable) and of course you need your ticket and you surrender your bags/purses for inspection. No big luggage allowed.
The tower has three levels. The first level is a swanky (think several hundred dollars a plate) restaurant called Jules Verne. The second level is the first viewing level and is quite spacious and takes up two levels, one screened in to keep crazies from jumping, and the other is set back and unscreened for any crazies who want to jump and fall on the second level and maybe break a wrist or ankle or something. The third level (way away at the top), which you pay extra for, is also two levels. One is enclosed behind glass, the other open to the elements, but screened in to keep any crazies with jumping ideas from carrying through. To say the least, it was (for us, anyway) a shoulder-to-shoulder body-pressed-upon-body experience. I can see why Rick Steves, in his videos, says he prefers the larger middle level. He never tells you right out that the third level is a two-level windowed soup can containing seventy-five people or the French would probably have him made into caviar!
Gustave Eiffel actually lived in the top of the tower for the rest of his life, and a facsimile of the apartment can be viewed with a facsimile of old Gustave hanging out with a faux Thomas Edison (who did visit at one point).
The views were amazing. I took pictures, but nighttime photography is just beyond my talents as a photographer. I’d suggest you go to Google and Yahoo and search for pictures of Paris from Eiffel at night. I put a couple into this blog post. The views are truly spectacular.
We’re both thankful for being on and up in the tower, but you don’t appreciate its immensity and gracefulness up there. To do that, you need only to stand around, under and at some distance away to see it for all its beauty and grace. It’s a marvelous fusion of art and engineering, perhaps the finest of its kind anywhere. Definitely make time to do that, and do it many times from many distances when you’re in Paris.
There were hordes of people with us, but you could see the crazy tourist in them subside when they started to take in the immense view before them on all four sides. Something like eight or nine solid search light beams come from the top of the tower and pierce the night air swirling around each other. At other points, thousands of strobe lights at each level of the tower start popping away (click here to view) and that’s another magical effect.
The tower is normally a gold color at night, but this night was the first night it was bathed in pink, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two white ribbons projected onto the tower from high powered beams projected from afar. It was really quite crazy!
BONUS: Watch the Eiffel Tower display of fireworks and pyrotechnics on Bastille Day 2014 (CLICK HERE)