The Eiffel Tower

It is strange how often you visit a new destination only to find that the iconic landmark you were expecting to be the highlight of your trip actually turns out not to be your favourite place at all. I remember my first visit to Rome when I confidently expected the Coliseum to blow me away when in fact it was the Forum that I fell in love with. There are, however, some attractions which exceed all expectations and the Eiffel Tower is certainly one of those.

 

The tower was opened in 1889 and was constructed be the entrance arch of the World’s Fair. This brainchild of engineer Gustave Eiffel was intended to be a temporary structure that would dismantled after 20 years but its value for housing communications equipment and its subsequent popularity ensured that it was never taken down.

Now possibly the most famous building in the world, the most striking thing when you first see the tower is its vast size. It is the sheer scale of the structure that impresses and the closer you get the more imposing it seems. At 1063 ft it was the tallest building in the world until the arrival of the Chrysler Building in New York and as it stands in splendid isolation it is hard to appreciate its scale until you are up close and personal. Admiring the tower from below is one thing but to really experience what it has to offer it is necessary to make an ascent. There are lifts which will transport you to the three viewing platforms but it is possible to walk to levels 1 and 2. If you fancy the climb then make sure you have your comfortable trainers on as there are 1665 steps to negotiate!

The views from the tower are staggering, especially from level 3 which at 916 ft affords a splendid panorama of the entire city. You can see for miles on a clear day which is good because you are probably going to have to queue for miles to get up there! The Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument with an entrance fee on the planet and the crowds at the base can be truly incredible. On a busy day it looks like half the population of Europe have arrived in unison and the only way to escape them is to get up at the crack of dawn and arrive first thing in the morning. You will have to queue for a ticket and then queue again to access the lift. It is possible to get yourself accelerated access by booking in advance online and obtaining a timeslot but this does mean that you have to take a risk on the weather.

 

A visit to the Eiffel Tower is an absolute must. The huge crowds are well worth negotiating in order to experience this iconic structure and the magnificent views from the top of Europe will blow you away.