More than a mere tourist attraction, the Eiffel Tower is an emblem of the city of Paris, a symbol of architectural boldness and ingenuity. Built in 1889 to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution, the “Iron Lady” has established itself as one of the most visited sites in the world.
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💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Paris? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Are you looking for a hotel in Paris? Feel free to have a look at the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Paris? Tips & recommendations
Short history of the Eiffel Tower
The Exposition Universelle of 1889
Organized to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution and showcase the technological and scientific progress of the time, the Exposition Universelle of 1889 was an international exhibition/world’s fair held in Paris from May 6 to October 31, 1889.
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was one of the world’s fairs ever organized. The event was a resounding success. Millions of visitors from all over the world flocked to Paris to discover the latest inventions of the time, such as the telephone, photography, cinema and electricity. The Exposition Universelle also offered visitors an opportunity to discover the cultures and traditions of different countries around the world. Part of the world’s fair was indeed dedicated to the French colonies. A pagoda from the Cambodian temple of Angkor was even recreated.
The Eiffel Tower was built especially or the Exposition and quickly became one of the symbols of the event.
The origins of the Eiffel Tower
The idea of building a 300-meter high tower on the Champs de Mars came about during the preparation o the Exposition Universelle. A competition was announced and 107 projects designed by the greatest engineers of the time were submitted to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The project submitted by the entrepreneur Gustave Eiffel, in cooperation with Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, two engineers from the Eiffel companies and Stephen Sauvestre, chief architect of the Eiffel companies, won the competition.
The construction of the Eiffel Tower
The construction of the Eiffel Tower began in late January 1887 and was completed by late March 1889: constuction works only lasted 2 years and 2 months, an undeniable tour de force, especially for the time!
The metal parts were machined at Eiffel’s factory in Levallois-Perret before being assembled on site by a team of 150 to 300 workers.
The Eiffel Tower was built with using wooden scaffoldings and steam cranes. As a specialist in bridge construction, Eiffel deployed on a monumental scale the know-how it already mastered to perfection.
Gustave Eiffel was awarded the Légion d’Honneur – the highest French distinction – at the end of the construction.
Controversy & resounding success
It’s hard to believe, but the Eiffel Tower wasn’t always met with admiration…
During construction, a group of artists and literary men – including Guy de Maupassant, Alexandre Dumas Fils, Émile Zola, Leconte de Lisle and Charles Garnier – expressed in an article published in the newspaper Le Temps their dissatisfaction with the unique design of what would become the Iron Lady. Paul Verlaine described the Eiffel Tower as a “skeleton of a belfry” while Léon Bloy wrote it was but a “truly tragic lamp post”.
Despite its detractors, the Iron Lady was a met with a phenomenal popular success. The public was seduced by both the technical tour de force and the emblematic silhouette of the monument.
🤔 Fun Fact 🤔
The Eiffel Tower was originally designed to be a temporary structure, destined to be dismantled 20 years after its inauguration. But her popularity saved her and the Iron Lady became a permanent monument of the City of Paris.
- 330 meters high (with antennas)
- 18,038 metal parts
- 50 engineers and designers
- 150 workers in the Levallois-Perret factory
- Between 150 and 300 workers on the construction site
- 2,500,000 rivets
- 7,300 tons of iron
- 60 tons of paint
- 2 years 2 months and 5 days of work
- 7 million visitors per year (of which 75% are foreigners): it is the most visited paying monument in the world
- 300 million visitors since its creation
Visiting the Eiffel Tower
The Architecture of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel companies were – among other things – specialists in the construction of bridges and viaducts: an expertise that undoubtedly influenced the architecture of the Eiffel Tower, whose silhouette is inspired by bridge piers (= an intermediate pillar supporting the deck).
The tower was thus conceived as a large pylon formed of 4 beams separated at the base and joining at the top… Admittedly not very glamorous. This is where the architect Stephen Sauvestre comes in: he worked on giving the silhouette of the monument a more harmonious shape, adding the monumental arches linking the four beams.
The tower is made of puddled steel (a material freed of excess carbon). Over 124 meters wide at its base, it rises 330 meters above the ground, with a total of three floors.
The first floor of the Eiffel Tower is 57 meters high. The second floor is 115 meters high. The 3rd – and last – floor of the Tower is 276 meters high. It is accessible by elevator or by stairs for the most energetic visitors. The platform offers a panoramic view of the entire city of Paris and the surrounding area.
The three floors of the Eiffel Tower
The first floor of the Eiffel Tower – you’ll find here a dizzying glass floor, a brasserie run by the iconic chef Thierry Marx, a bar, a boutique and an interactive discovery trail with touch screens, digital albums…
The second floor of the Eiffel Tower – you’ll enjoy here a breathtaking view of Paris. You’ll also find several restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Jules Verne – as well as several souvenir shops.
The third floor of the Eiffel Tower – welcome to the top of the Eiffel Tower! The highlight of the visit? A spectacular view of the French capital. There are two levels: one sheltered and the other open air. You’ll also find here a reconstruction of Gustave Eiffel’s office, panoramic panels, a model… and a champagne bar!
How many steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower?
You’ll have to climb 674 steps to reach the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower (30 to 45 minutes of ascent). But don’t panic: if you’re not in the mood for this much activity, you can always take the elevator!
There are 1665 steps to the Eiffel Tower, but the staircase between the2nd and3rd floors is not open to the public.
The elevators reach the observation platform in under 2 minutes.
Getting to the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is located on the banks of the Seine, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, a few steps from the Musée du Quai Branly.
There are plenty of options to get to the Eiffel Tower:
- Metro: several metro lines serve the Eiffel Tower, notably line 6 (Bir-Hakeim station), line 8 (Ecole Militaire station) and line 9 (Trocadero station).
- Bus: several bus lines stop near the Eiffel Tower, notably lines 42, 69, 72, 82 and 87.
- RER: the Eiffel Tower is accessible from the Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel RER station (line C).
- Hop-on hop-off bus tours. Find out more here.
- Bike: you will find self-service bicycle stations – Vélib’ – near the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is open every day of the week:
- From April 1st to August 31st: from 9am to midnight;
- From September 1st to March 31st: from 9:30 am to 11 pm.
Ticket prices for the Eiffel Tower vary depending on the package you choose:
|Adults||Young visitors (12 to 24)||Children (4 to 11)||Young children (under 4 years old)|
|Stairway ticket 2nd floor||11,30||5,60||2,80||Free of charge|
|Elevator ticket 2nd floor||18,10||9,00||4,50||Free of charge|
|Stairs + elevator to the top||21,50||10,70||5,40||Free of charge|
|Elevator to the top||28,30||14,10||7,10||Free of charge|
⚠️ Be warned: the Eiffel Tower is a victim of its own success and the lines at the entrance to the monument can be truly endless! To avoid having to wait at the cash desk, Captain Ulysses can only recommend that you opt for an online ticket: ticket for the Eiffel Tower, access to the summit as an option.
If you don’t want to miss anything, you can also opt for a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower: Guided tour of the Eiffel Tower in English
And if you plan to take a cruise on the Seine, you should opt for a package: direct access to the Eiffel Tower + cruise on the Seine
👉 Skip the lines in Paris: book your tickets and tours in advance!
👉 Looking for advice and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: Looking for an accommodation in Paris? Good news: there are plenty of options in the French capital. To book your hotel in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends the website Booking.com. From cheap hostels to luxury palaces, you’ll have plenty of options to chose from. As for the localisation, it depends both on your budget and on what you’re looking for. If you can’t afford staying in the most expensive areas of the capital, the Captain recommends that you look for a hotel in the 12th or 13th arrondissements: they’re not as central, but are very well connected to the centre of Paris. The Buttes au Cailles, which looks just like a small village, is one of the Captain’s favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. If you’d rather stay in a chic and sophisticated hotel, here are the best 3 options according to the Captain: the St. James , the Dokhan’s and the Metropolitan .
🎟️ Activities : in order to book skip-the-line tickets, tours and activities in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends GetYourGuide and Civitatis. Guided tours, entrance tickets, cruises, unusual activities: there’s plenty to chose from. If you want to avoid queuing to get into museums and monuments, the Captain suggests opting for skip-the-line tickets.
⛵ City cruises: Can you really visit Paris without going on a cruise on the Seine? The Captain loves sailing on the river and admiring the emblematic monuments of the French capital, especially at nightfall. You will find a large selection of cruises in Paris here.
🎫 City cards : If you’re planning on staying in Paris for a few days, you should definitely consider investing in a city card giving access to the capital’s top museums and landmarks. which includes access to the most famous monuments in Paris.
🚐 Transfers: the parisian airports are located outside the city and getting to the city centre can be quite expensive.
If your budget is tight, the Captain recommends the RATP shuttles that will drop you off at Opera if you’re coming from Roissy airport and at Denfert-Rochereau if you’re coming from Orly airport.
But for a few extra euros, you can book a transfer that will take you directly to your hotel.
If you are traveling in a group, this option is all the more interesting. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: While you’ll be able to explore part of the city on foot, you will have to use the parisian public transports to explore some of the capital’s landmarks. In order to avoid accumulating (and losing) metro tickets, the Captain recommends opting for an unlimited transport pass. You can buy it directly at in any metro station.
Open tour buses (audioguides included) are also a good option.
If you’d rather explore Paris on a boat, you will love the batobus, a river shuttle on the Seine !
✈️ Flights, trains & buses : Good news: getting to Paris is quite easy! If you’re planning on flying to the capital, the Captain recommends Skyscanner, an online comparator which is perfect for finding the best deals. If your dates are flexible, you can even compare prices over several weeks. Paris is also easily accessible by train and bus. To book your tickets, the Captain highly recommends Omio, which integrates the offer of 207 train and bus companies in 44 countries.