The sane approach is with the No Worries Paris guide.
Perhaps the world’s most beloved and recognized structure, the Tour Eiffel was not received warmly by most Parisians when it was built as part of Exposition Universalle in 1889. Some 300 artists and civic leaders signed a petition of protest. Later, novelist Guy de Maupassant used to lunch on top, since it was “the only place in Paris where I don’t have to see it.” Colleague Alexandre Dumas called the “hollow candlestick” a “work of uselessness.” Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the framework for the Statue of Liberty, won a contest among engineers to build a tower of 1,000 feet, which was nearly twice as high as the Washington Monument, then the world’s tallest.
A communications tower on top brings today’s height to 1,063 feet, the tallest structure in Paris. It was scheduled to be torn down and scrapped after 20 years, but meteorologists and communications scientists won a plea to let it stand. Find a spot amid digital shutterbugs directly underneath the tower and look up to behold the stats: Under Eiffel’s direction, some 300 workers labored for two years (incurring zero fatal accidents) to assemble 18,000 pieces of prefabricated iron lattice weighing a total of 10,000 tons with more than 2.5 million rivets. The project came in under budget and a week early. It is the world’s most-viewed attraction with nearly 300 million visitors, coming these days at a rate of ten million per year. The first level is at 187 feet, the second at 377 feet (these two reachable via stairs), and the top is lofted at 899 feet—where wind sways the structure up to five feet.
TIPS FOR VISITING TOUR EIFFEL: Given the essential sights on the remainder of this walk, you’ll probably want to save an ascent for another day. To avoid lines and save time, arrive a little before it opens, normally at 9:30. It’s cheaper and faster, given the lines, to walk the first two levels, which takes about 15 minutes. If you want to go to the top, you can buy an elevator ticket in addition to the stairway ticket (at the south tower). To ride all the way to the top (you have to get out at the second level anyway), use the east tower ticket booth. Don’t miss the cinema and museum on the first level. The second level is ringed by two viewing decks, and the height is just right to check out the sights of the city, laid out like a 3D model. Since Paris has a seven-story height limit on buildings, the well-known monuments are plainly visible. Many people will want to reach the top as a matter of principle, but the airborne view is less intimate. At night, on the hour, Tour Eiffel turns into a light show. Closing time can be as late as midnight, varying with the season.
Jerry and Janine Sprout. No Worries Paris (Kindle Locations 354-370). Diamond Valley Company, Publishers.