When people visit Paris for the first time, going to the top of the Eiffel Tower is usually a must on their itineraries.
It’s not surprising seeing as how the iconic structure is generally the first thing that comes to mind for non-Parisian natives due to its universal popularity. (I’m sure the Paris natives would scoff at their city being best known for a statue that was never supposed to be a permanent fixture in their city’s skyline.)
On my first trip to Paris I naturally went all the way to the top, to the troisieme level, infected tonsils and all. My second trip to the city lasted less than 48 hours. Due to my desire to cram in as much touring as possible during a weekend getaway from my home base in Spain, I only made it to the deuxieme level. I had wanted to go to the top again but sheer exhaustion had set in by the time I made it to the Eiffel Tower and the queues for just visiting the deuxieme level were considerably shorter not to mention it cost less than going all the way to the top.
My last trip to Paris I was accompanied by a Paris newbie and so once more, I went to the top. Although I had planned ahead by getting tickets in advance and thus cutting down on some of the time spent queuing, the mobs were still present at every corner of the winding and sometimes narrow top, and the waits to return to ground level were horrendously long.
It was after my third visit to La Tour Eiffel that I came to the realization that I would be perfectly happy if I never went up in the tower again. To me, the sheer beauty and majesty of the Eiffel Tower is best enjoyed by gazing up at it from the Champ de Mars or admiring it from across the Seine on the lookout platform of the tower of Notre Dame Cathedral. There’s no beauty found in being pushed and shoved by droves of tourists in an already too small space or having to wait more than 20 minutes simply to take the elevator back down.
I actually contemplated eating dinner at the Eiffel Tower’s prestigious restaurant, Le Jules Verne, which is run by acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse, since it seems like it would have been an exquisite dining experience (with a price tag to match). However, I decided against it for the reasons I outlined above. How can you take in the magnitude of a structure if you’re not able to see it? I know there certainly exists a degree of uniqueness but to me I would rather stare at the tower any day than be inside or on top of it, not able to see it.
If you’ve never been to Paris I would certainly not recommend against going to the top (or even the deuxieme level) of the Eiffel Tower. It is one of those bucket list experiences everyone should have in their lifetime. However, if you’re anything like me and you tire quickly of crowds and sometimes obnoxious packs of tourists, then be sure to check out the views these places offer of one of the city’s prettiest sites.
-Place du Trocadero
-Champs du Mar
-The top of the Arc de Triomphe
-The top of the Musee du Quai Branly