La Tour Eiffel

My time here in Paris is winding down now. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here almost two weeks now. I’ve come to feel very at home here. It’s such an easy city to navigate and despite the stereotypes, Parisians are very friendly. The great thing about Parisians is that if they’re nice to you, you know they really mean it. Parisian’s don’t get fired for being rude in a store or restaurant. If you complain, they don’t care for the most part. They just look at you and shrug with an attitude of “you’re just lucky I’m helping you or paying attention to you at all.” It’s not a particularly customer-service oriented country. In Paris, the customer is rarely, if ever right. So, again, if they are nice to you, it’s because they actually like you. In some ways, it’s rather refreshing. At home in the US it’s a fake niceness often–they have to be nice as part of the job. Truthfully, I prefer the French way. You at least pretty much know where you stand. Aside from one rather snooty hostess at Lênotre, of all places, my experiences really have all been good.

I finally made it to the Eiffel Tower today. I know, that would have be the place most people go first when they get here. But, not me. In my own defense, it’s not exactly close to my hotel. It’s about as far away on the left bank as you can get from my hotel. I’m staying a neat little hotel called Hôtel Britannique a block from the Seine and the île de la Cité where Notre Dame is located. It’s a 39 room hotel that is close to just about everything historic–the Louvre, Les Halles, the Marias, Notre Dame, Ile de St. Louis, the Latin Quarter, St. Germain de Pres–except the Eiffel Tower.

I finally figured out the best way to get there by Metro (Line 1 from the Chatelet stop to the FDR station and then transfer to line 9 down to the Trocedero stop). By arriving from the Trocedero, you really get a great view of the Eiffel Tower as you come through the Jardin du Trocedero across the Pont d’Iena. The first thing you notice is it’s massive size. The tower soars into the sky and just dwarfs everything around it. The pictures I’ve seen before just don’t do it justice. This first picture was taken some distance away from the top of Trocodero Plaza across the Seine. It’s still about a 5 minute walk to the Tower from here.

The Eiffel Tower extends 1000 feet into the sky (approximately 92 stories). There are observation platforms at 200 (18 stories), 400 (38 stories) and 900 feet (83 stories). You get to the top through a series of 3 elevators. The higher you go the more you pay–11 euros to take the elevators up to the top platform. Each time you get on an elevator, they tear a corner off your ticket. It is possible to walk to the second platform, but after my experience with the Arc de Triumph, I decided to take the elevator.

Fortunately, since it’s November the Tower wasn’t crowded and it didn’t take that long to get into the first Elevator. The elevators are powered by the same hydrolic lifts used in 1889 when the Tower opened (part of which you can see in the picture to the left). As you creep closer to each level, you can feel your ears pop with the increasing elevation. You peer out through the Tower’s iron work as the Paris skyline receeds below you.

The first two platforms are are fairly wide with restauarants, gift shops and a post office. These are the best places to get a bird’s eye view of some of the cities attractions.

As you climb to the top platform, the space narrows with the Tower and it can be hard to manoever through all the people. The inside observation deck is ringed with distance markers that show how far it is as the crow flies to places like Reykjavik, Los Angeles and Brazil, etc.

The view from the top is spectacular. On a clear day you can see for 80 miles. Even on a hazy day you can see pretty far.

As amazing as this Tower is during the day, it becomes breath taking at sunset and in the dark of night. Around 5:15 the Tower lights start to come on one by one. The sky begins to darken and natures light show takes over.

Then, at 6:00 pm, the Eiffel Tower starts to sparkle. The dancing lights continue for 10 minutes until fading away until the next show at 7:00 pm. The sparkling lights have been the exclamation point at the Eiffel Tower since the millenium celebration six years ago.

By 6:30 night has complete taken over and the brightly lit Tower can be seen for miles around Paris.

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