Why was the Eiffel Tower built?At the time that the Eiffel Tower was conceived, the tallest man-made structure in the world was the Washington Monument, which stood 554 feet (169 meters) tall. Meanwhile, in Paris, discussions were underway for a fitting centerpiece for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (or World’s Fair) which would celebrate 100 years since the French Revolution. A competition was set up to judge designs for a tower that would be at least 300 meters (980 feet) tall, have four sides, and be constructed out of metal. The design submitted by Gustave Eiffel (though originally conceived by his employees Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier) was eventually deemed to be the only one that was practical, and it was selected. The design was initially unpopular, both with people who thought it couldn’t be done and with people who thought the tower was an eyesore. The tower was built between January 1887 and March 1889 and opened to the public on May 6, 1889. The tower was immediately popular with the public and international celebrities, with Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill, and the Prince of Wales among the earliest visitors. The tower was only intended to be temporary, standing only until 1909, but at that point, the tower had begun to be used for communications purposes as well as for tourism so it was decided to let it stand. It remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for 41 years, until it was overtaken by the Chrysler Building in 1930.
Which floor has the best view?This is a matter of some debate. The top floor is more likely to have its view disrupted by low-lying clouds on rainy days, but on a clear day, you’ll see a further from its platform, which is 905 feet (276m) up. The view from the second floor (377 feet, 114m high) is great and you won’t have to wait in line for the additional lift to the top, which can be quite busy. If you want opinions on the best views of Paris then be prepared for another debate! Most people would agree that the best views of Paris include the Eiffel Tower, so can’t be seen from inside the tower itself. Great views can also be found from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the Palais de Chaillot, the Tour Montparnasse, or from the hill in the Parc de Belville.
Can I take the stairs all the way to the top?Visitors can take the stairs to the first and second floors, but not to the summit. A combined ticket for the stairs and lift are available if you’d like to climb the stairs partway. There are 328 stairs to the first floor and another 341 to the second floor, 669 steps in total. It takes about half an hour to climb the whole way, but you’ll probably want to stop for a short break on the first floor before continuing! If you have a phobia of elevators, then don’t worry, you’ll also get a good view of Paris from the second-floor observation deck.
Are there guided tours?There aren’t any official guided tours of the Eiffel Tower, but there are many tour providers in Paris who will provide you with a tour guide if you book with them. The guides will generally be able to help you to skip the lines and offer you insights into the history of the tower, but make sure that you’re booking with a reputable company. It’s also easy to visit the tower without a guide - explanatory signs are available in English and French. There’s also the chance to pick up a booklet for the Eiffel Tower adventure game, which is available in English, French, and Spanish either at the entrance to the tower’s pillars or on the first floor. The booklet will help you to learn about the tower by solving puzzles as you explore.
Which restaurants are inside the Eiffel Tower?There’s a wide range of dining options within the Eiffel Tower itself and on the Esplanade on the ground level. On the first floor, you’ll find 58 Tour Eiffel, which offers seasonal French cuisine with a great view. 58 Tour Eiffel is closed until Spring 2020 for renovations but will be back next year, bigger and better than ever. If you’re looking for something even fancier, try the Jules Verne restaurant for French gourmet cuisine. It’s on the second floor and you need to have a reservation, which can be made online. If you’ll be eating at the Jules Verne restaurant then you’ll be given access via a private lift in the south pillar of the tower, so you’ll feel like a VIP from the moment you arrive. At the top of the tower, there’s a champagne bar where you can enjoy a cold refreshing glass of bubbles while enjoying the view. Seats at the champagne bar can’t be reserved. If the other options sound like too much of a challenge for your wallet, then don’t worry! You can bring food up for a small picnic, but be aware that you can’t take glass bottles or cans of drinks through security. There’s also a range of food stalls on the esplanade, first, and second floors which provide hot and cold beverages and food, including sweet and savory options. The second floor also has a macaroon bar, for those wanting a small and elegant snack!
When are the busiest times to visit the Eiffel Tower?Compared to other tourist attractions, the Eiffel Tower is busy all year round. The months with the lowest attendance are January, February, October, and November, but it will still be busy at weekends and holidays during those months. On a daily basis, the tower is least busy first thing in the morning, between 9 am and 11 am, or last thing at night between 8 pm and 10.30 pm. The tower is at its busiest between 11 am and 5 pm in July and August. If you find yourself visiting in the peak months, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays will be your best options for avoiding the crowds. Live wait times for the east and south entrances and the ticket offices can be found on the official Eiffel Tower website.