Let’s talk about the biggest tourist attraction in Paris, La Toure Eiffle. It is a great way to end your day of sight-seeing in Paris but I must say it is not absolutely a must because of the many hassles involved with the process of enjoying and getting up the Eiffel Tower. If you insist on going up the tower for what is really actually a view of Paris you should get to see, you have remember a few things. The tower is very removed from the rest of the tourist areas of Paris like the Louvre and Notre Dame and there is no Metro in the area. There is however the C train. This train is a double-decker train very cool but very hard to navigate. The tickets for this train are your normal run of the mill metro tickets but DON”T THROW THEM AWAY once you are on the train. You will need those tickets to get back out. I don’t understand the process but I’m not going to be the one to argue with the French. The second you get out of the Train you will not see the Tower but walk straight out of the station and you will see it, trust me it is not far. On your way though you will be bombarded by many an African person trying to sell you one of about 6 objects that 100 other foreign characters are trying to sell you around the tower. This is extremely annoying and many of these merchants can be very persistent and many times aggressive in trying to sell you four key chains of the Eiffel tower for one euro. (which four for 1 euro is the only sentence most of them can say) If you MUST buy something from these men wait until AFTER you have done the tower and buy from one of the merchants nearest to the train entrance. These merchants are a little more laid-back and a lot kinder than the ultra “foot merchants”. You may also be able to strike a good bargain because the merchants that are near the train are usually on their way out for the day so they are just happy to make their final sale. These obnoxious characters can really make your trip to the Tower something to grind your teeth to but they do put on a pretty good show about every 30 minutes.
These merchants are not supposed to be at the tower. Having no permit they are going against French law and also interfering with the official gift shops at the tower. While my friends and I were standing at the entrance to the tower, trying to get creative with the posses of our pictures (getting three girls and one huge tower in a picture is hard to do), we heard an ever-increasing an ominous clinking coming closer. It was as if thousands of Thomas the trains were coming at us. We looked up to see a stampede of merchants that seemed to be running straight at us, their rings of miniature Eiffel Towers slapping against their legs and cheap Paris scarves flowing in the wind. I thought to myself “what? Do we look like a bunch of suckers to you?” In fact they were not running TO something but FROM something. Every few minutes two unfortunate Paris cops on bikes are charged with clearing out the entire park around the tower of these pestilent merchants. They however run across one street and onto median to wait out the cops. Occasionally one merchant will get brave and sneak around the cops resulting in a very amusing display of Cat and Mouse. I am almost convinced that this is where the tradition of Mardi Gras taunting the Capitaine came from. Eventually the cops pedal away to clear out another area and the merchants ching-a-ling back across the street to annoy the people standing in line to go up the elevators or buy tickets.
Like standing in lines? Well do I have an attraction for you! Step right up! Step right up, but don’t step on the person in front of you! Welcome to the Eiffel Tower where the lines are longer than the attraction itself! Waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower is a multi-step process. Well, a multilevel process really. First of all when visiting you should make a reservation. Though this does not grant you any sort of privilege that will keep you safe from lines entirely out of a line it puts you in a SLIGHTLY shorter line at the entrance. These lines differ by bout ten people but when you consider how many lines lie ahead of you, cut your loses! When buying your tickets to the Eiffel Tower SHOW YOU PASSPORT “youth” tickets are from 18-24 in Paris (below that gets in free) the price for you ticket is slashed considerably if not completely! The Eiffel tower offers two levels of tickets regular entrance and then Summit entrance. I really only believe that you need to go to the first level and I promise I have my reasons.
The view from the first deck is AMAZING. You can see all of Paris and after a day of walking around the city you can point out all the sights you saw and say, “hey we were there” and it puts into perspective how far you really traveled in your day. The Summit though is a waste of your money (or so I think). Paris is a huge city and anyone who has been to LA knows how beyond a certain point into the air you can’t see anything because of all the pollution. Well the only benefits to going to the very top of the Eiffel Tower are 1) saying you have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower 2) seeing how the roads are constructed. France is set up on a really interesting grid of well-organized one ways that intersect in many star-like patterns. Which is very cool to see if that is the sort of thing that floats your boat. What is most important in your consideration as to whether or not to venture to the summit of the Tower is once again the issue of the lines. As if having to wait to get to the first deck of the Tower wasn’t enough the line to get to the upper viewing deck is one that wraps entirely around the tower and then snakes through its interior. For this portion of your visit estimate about 2xs the amount of time that it took you to get to this point for you to get to the next point. This is because the upper deck is of course 1/4 the size of the first level observation deck; therefore it does not possess the same holding capacity. Thus we must all wait our turn. Once you have FINALLY made it to the top and seen the view you find the disappointing fact that the second you step out of the elevator and onto the floor you are automatically a participant in the line to get back down to the ground floor. The line issue continues to be present. The line to go on the down elevators stretches the entire upper deck.
My advice would be that if you wanted to see this upper deck I would START at the top and then do the lower deck. By the time you have made it to the top in the reverse order you are so tired and jaded that you don’t enjoy it. The view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower is amazing and defiantly something everyone needs to do once in their lives. I would however suggest that the first observation deck would suffice for your viewing pleasure. It will save you time and money (almost double the ticket price) and I really don’t feel you will be sacrificing much of the “full experience of the site.”
I know this turned into a little bit like a segment from the Travel Channel but I was being a travel guide to my awesome roommate from Canada. So it was on the brain.