The Tour Eiffel is the French term for what Americans call the Eiffel Tower. It was one of the first Paris icons we went to see during our first weekend in town. One can see it from almost anywhere in the city, and it serves as a navigational beacon in finding our way home. Rick Steves in Paris 2000 calls it the Exclamation Point of Paris, an expression I rather like.
The tower is 1,050 feet tall, and in hot weather it "grows" taller by 6 inches. It covers 2.5 acres and requires 50 tons of paint when it gets a face-lift. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world until the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.
Tour Eiffel was built approximately 100 years after the French Revolution during the middle of another revolution--what we call the Industrial Revolution. Gustave Eiffel won the design contest for the structure to be built at the 1889 Centennial World's Fair. He beat 107 other proposals, including one for a giant sprinkler and another for a monstrous commemorative guillotine. To many at the time, the tower was the marvel of the age. To others it was a monstrosity or a hideous eyesore. It's said that the writer Maupassant routinely ate lunch in the tower so he wouldn't have to look at it.
Since it was built, over 130 million people have climbed the tower and today it attracts over 6 million visitors every year, making it one of the world's premier tourist attractions.
The tower contains three observation platforms at the 200-, 400-, and 900-foot levels. Each requires a separate elevator ride. If you want to walk up, you can count the 1,710 steps. At the top, you'll find a panoramic view of Paris, and in good weather, you can see for 40 miles. (Maybe that's where Burton Lane Dies, the songwriter, got the idea for "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.") However, most people think the view from the second level is the best.
The favorite tourist spot for viewing the tower is across the Seine River at the back of Palis de Chaillot overlooking the Jardins du Trocadero. Some of the photos below were taken there. On the front side of Palis de Chaillot leading to the park area where the pictures were taken you'll find cafes lining the Place du Trocadero et du 11 Novembre (all one name) circle where you can relax at an outside patio table, sip a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and enjoy the view of the tower.
The tower at night is quite a sight. They just turned on the blue flashing lights again. It was such a success when they did it for New Year's 2000 that they decided to make it permanent. We will add pictures of that beautiful sight soon.
This is the Tour Eiffel viewed through the trees of the Jardins du Trocadero on the Right Bank of the Seine looking toward the Left Bank.
This is part of the Parc du Champ de Mars next to the tower that backs up to Ecole Militaire, still in use today.
As you walk under the tower you'll get this view.
Rick is contemplating our new life in Paris.
The wet snow clung to the tower, a rare sight indeed