Visiting the Eiffel Tower: Highlights, Tips & Tours
Author Lisa Alexander has lived in France, and visited the Eiffel Tower most recently in the spring of 2023.
The world's most-visited tourist attraction has caused a stir ever since it first appeared in Paris over a century ago.
When it was presented at the Exposition Universelle in 1889, visitors were awestruck. No one had ever seen a building this tall or this modern. Nearly two million people made the journey to attend the exposition over several months. Some came just to get a glimpse of the tower. Other brave souls climbed the stairs all the way to the top, which, at that time, required 1,710 steps!
Today, the Eiffel Tower receives around seven million visitors every year. This must-see monument is well-designed to welcome tourists. However, it helps to come prepared for your visit.
To avoid waiting in line, purchase your ticket(s) in advance. Also, consider how much time you'd like to spend here. Giving yourself several hours at the Eiffel Tower allows you to enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants and to go all the way to the top of the tower.
Though the tower was only meant to last for 20 years, it has become the most recognized feature of the Paris skyline. For tourists, visiting this icon is often a highlight of their trip to Paris.
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Pillars of the Eiffel Tower
The esplanade at the base of the Eiffel Tower is dominated by four massive pillars, which support the entire weight of the 10,100-ton monument. Gustave Eiffel's engineers Emile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin worked on mathematical principles to ensure stability.
Because the tower's weight is so well-distributed throughout the framework, the curved base succeeds at securing the structure even in extreme winds. At the ground level, the pressure exerted is only four kilograms per square centimeter, roughly the same weight distribution of a normal-sized adult on the seat of a chair.
The gigantic pillars provide a striking first impression. Much larger than one would expect, the pillars are spacious enough to hold staircases and elevators.
To enter the esplanade and then ascend the Eiffel Tower, you will need a ticket for a specific entrance time. It's recommended to purchase your ticket in advance. Arrive 15 minutes prior to the ticket time.
You may enter the esplanade at the East entrance (from the Avenue de Suffren, walk into the gardens at Rue Buenos-Ayres) or at the South entrance (from the Avenue de la Bourdonnais, walk into the gardens at Rue de l'Université).
Tip: The East entrance is usually less crowded.
To take the elevator to the first and second floors, go to the East Pillar (Pilier Est) or West Pillar (Pilier Ouest). The East Pillar and West Pillar have ticket offices, where you can purchase tickets on the spot (if you did not pre-purchase a ticket). However, keep in mind that you will have to wait in line (and ticket lines can be very long).
If you prefer to climb the stairs (up to the first and second floors) should head to the South Pillar (Pilier Sud) ticket office, where tickets for the stairs can be purchased on the spot. The ticket line is usually not as long when you take the stairs, as compared to the elevator.
The gardens around the Eiffel Tower's esplanade have been recently updated with romantic landscaping. You can admire the lush greenery while waiting in line to enter the tower.
Tip: the East entrance in the gardens is usually less crowded than the South entrance.
The esplanade has a food & beverage kiosk and a buffet-style cafeteria, where you can grab snacks or have a casual meal before exploring the Eiffel Tower. There are also cafeterias on the 1st floor and 2nd floor of the tower.
You can choose to ride the elevator or walk up 360 steps to the 1st floor. At an altitude of 57 meters, the 1st floor floats just above the Paris monuments and provides the perfect viewing platform to appreciate the city's architecture.
Designed with a transparent floor and glass pavilions, the 1st floor features more than 2,000 square meters of outdoor space. There is an open-air terrace with a snack bar, where you can relax and take in the sensational panoramas.
This level has public restrooms; a souvenir shop with many products that are made in France; a buffet-style cafeteria that serves sweets, snacks, and quick meals; and a restaurant, Madame Brasserie, which serves modern French cuisine prepared from seasonal local ingredients.
At an altitude of 125 meters, the 2nd floor offers awe-inspiring vistas of the Paris cityscape. The buildings along the Seine River can be easily distinguished, whereas the 1st level has less perspective, and on the top of the Eiffel Tower, the sights appear small in the distance.
You can take the elevator or climb 344 steps to reach the 2nd floor, which has public restrooms, two gift shops, a buffet-style cafeteria, and a macaron shop. The viewing platform includes telescopes for admiring the scene of Paris. You can see the Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the meandering Seine River, and Montmartre in the distance.
For gastronomic dining with unforgettable view, try the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant. Blending classic French culinary heritage with a contemporary twist, the restaurant presents tantalizing multi-course menus. When arriving at the Eiffel Tower, guests may take the private elevator from the South Pillar that leads directly to the restaurant.
Not for the faint of heart or for those with a fear of heights, the top floor of the Eiffel Tower stands at a dizzying altitude of 276 meters. (The summit with its radio antenna is several meters higher.) To arrive at the top level, you must take the elevator from the second level.
There is a small viewing area inside under a roof and another viewing platform in the open air. From this thrilling vantage point, the astonishing panoramas extend as far as 70 kilometers on a clear day. Paris' monuments look small from this height.
The top level includes Gustave Eiffel's office, which appears exactly as it did when Gustave Eiffel worked here. Wax models show Gustave Eiffel and his daughter Claire meeting with Thomas Edison.
Also on display is the 1:50 scale model of the Eiffel Tower's top floor, which was created in 1889 and shows a previous version of the floor plan.
The Eiffel Tower at Night
In the evening, the Eiffel Tower is among the most magical places to visit in Paris. Special lighting effects lend a romantic glow.
At sunset, Golden Lighting illuminates the tower from lamps placed inside the tower's framework. The Golden Lighting was created by electrician and engineer Pierre Bideau in 1985.
Since the year 2000, the tower has featured a dazzling light show that is superimposed on the Golden Lighting. Every night, on the hour from sundown until 11:45pm at night, a Beacon light is cast in a 360-degree rotation, and Sparkling Lights glitter for five minutes.
The Sparkling Lights system is made up of 20,000 light bulbs and required 25 mountain climbers to install over a five-month period. Efficient six-watt light bulbs reduce the energy consumption, making the show more sustainable.
Best Places for Photos Ops
If you are looking for the perfect photo-op with the Eiffel Tower in the background, there are two excellent options: the Place du Trocadéro and the Champ de Mars.
Across the river from the Eiffel Tower, the Place du Trocadéro offers a gorgeous viewpoint. This expansive balcony provides a wide open space and enough distance from the Eiffel Tower to capture the ideal photo.
Closer to the tower, the Champ de Mars allows you to take photos right next to the monument or a little farther away, depending on where the snapshots are taken in the park.
From either of these locations, it is easy to take photos that will become much-cherished memories of the visit. The ideal time to take a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower is in the morning or late afternoon.
Recommended Fine-Dining Restaurants near the Eiffel Tower
- Les Ombres (27 Quai Branly) is a hidden gem on the garden rooftop terrace of the Musée du Quai Branly. In this sublime setting, the dining room delivers impressive panoramas of the Paris cityscape with the Eiffel Tower at center stage. The restaurant serves contemporary French cuisine for dinner. It's a wonderful choice for a romantic dinner near the Eiffel Tower.
- Ducasse sur Seine (19 Port Debilly) delivers a memorable dining experience on a Seine River cruise, with multi-course seasonal menus featuring the refined cuisine of famous chef Alain Ducasse. Options include two-hour lunch cruises and dinner cruises. The cruises board at Port Debilly, a short walk from the Eiffel Tower across the Pont d'Iéna (bridge).
- L'Ami Jean (27 Rue Malar) is an acclaimed restaurant just a short walk from the Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower. The restaurant serves classic French cuisine in an intimate dining space.
- Restaurant Auguste (54 Rue de Bourgogne) is a Michelin-starred establishment that delights guests with its delicate haute cuisine based on traditional French techniques. Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, this sophisticated gastronomic restaurant is a short walk from the Eiffel Tower, past Les Invalides and the Musée Rodin.
- Café Lignac (139 Rue Saint-Dominique) presents the refined cuisine of chef Cyril Lignac in an intimate dining room. This small but upscale restaurant offers a menu of Parisian classics.
- Astrance (32 Rue de Longchamp) is about a 20-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower across the Seine River in the 16th arrondissement. In an airy contemporary-style dining room, the restaurant specializes in contemporary French cuisine with hints of Far East flavors.
- La Fontaine de Mars (129 Rue Saint-Dominique) is tucked away in a quiet courtyard off the bustling street, just steps away from the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. Opened in 1908, this atmospheric, traditional establishment is one of the oldest bistros in Paris. The restaurant serves old-fashioned French cuisine for lunch and dinner.
- Le Violon d'Ingres (135 Rue Saint-Dominique) is a chic fine-dining restaurant managed by the renowned Parisian chef Christian Constant. The restaurant has earned a Michelin star thanks to its elegant ambience, impeccable service, and superb culinary offerings prepared from seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner.
- Arpège (84 Rue de Varenne) treats guests to a gastronomic experience in a sleek modern dining room, which is open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner (closed on weekends). Boasting three Michelin stars, the restaurant has its own organic gardens to supply fresh seasonal produce. The location next to Les Invalides is a bit of a walk from the Eiffel Tower but can be taken as a leisurely jaunt through the 7th arrondissement.
- David Toutain (29 Rue Surcouf) wows guests with its sensational multi-course menus. With creative and contemporary flair, this upscale yet casual restaurant offers avant-garde cuisine prepared from the finest ingredients. The restaurant has two Michelin stars.
- Brasserie Thoumieux (79 Rue Saint-Dominique) is a classic Parisian brasserie with red-velvet-upholstered banquettes and Art Deco lamps. This brasserie dates back to 1923, the Jazz Age, and today presents musical performances on the weekend evenings.
Where to Go for a Casual Meal or Coffee Break near the Eiffel Tower
- Le Petit Cler (29 Rue Cler) is a quaint bistro restaurant that serves simple, traditional French dishes at reasonable prices. The restaurant has a cozy dining room, full of old-fashioned charm, and a sunny terrace for enjoying meals al fresco. Le Petit Cler is open everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Café du Marché (38 Rue Cler) draws many locals who enjoy the reasonably priced bistro menu, which is one of the best deals in Paris. Besides its dinner options, the café also offers coffee, croissants, and other snacks. On warm days, the sidewalk terrace is an inviting place to savor a meal while soaking up the neighborhood ambience.
- Café Central (Rue Cler) is another classic French restaurant on Rue Cler that serves high-quality cuisine in a cozy dining room. The menu includes a mix of French classics, Italian appetizers and pasta, and American favorites such as cheeseburgers.
- Bistro Saint Dominique (131 Rue Saint-Dominique) is an inviting French bistro on the bustling Rue Saint-Dominique. The menu includes classic French bistro dishes and some Italian specialties. The restaurant has a pleasant outdoor terrace in a quiet courtyard.
- Le Bistro Parisien (Port de la Bourdonnais) has spectacular outdoor terrace seating by the Seine River banks and a dining room that overlooks the Eiffel Tower. The restaurant focuses on seasonal French cuisine and is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. This restaurant is one of the most scenic places to eat near the Eiffel Tower.
- Les Deux Abeilles (189 Rue de l'Université), a short walk from the Eiffel Tower, provides a relaxing retreat in a dainty dining room decorated with floral wallpaper and handsome antiques. The restaurant/tea salon serves brunch, lunch, and afternoon tea.
- Pottaka (4 Rue de l'Exposition), a few blocks from the Champ de Mars, is a casual restaurant that serves simple, fresh cuisine including innovative takes on classic French dishes and specialties of the Basque region. The restaurant offers outdoor dining on the terrace (or to-go meals) from Wednesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner, and tapas.
- Zia (22 Avenue de Tourville) is a family-run coffee shop and eatery that serves American-style breakfast, brunch, and lunch. With its light, market-fresh cuisine and friendly atmosphere, this friendly neighborhood spot is a great place for a casual meal break near the Eiffel Tower. They also offer gourmet "picnics to-go" that may be ordered ahead of time.
- Bistrot Le Champ de Mars (45 Avenue de la Bourdonnais) serves up a traditional French bistro cuisine, along with international favorites, in a quintessential 1940s Parisian-style dining space. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this stylish bistro is in the heart of the 7th arrondissement just 400 meters from the Eiffel Tower.
- Les Cocottes (135 Rue Saint-Dominique) caters to locals and tourists seeking a trendy ambience and hearty cooking. This stylish little bistro serves classic French dishes for lunch and dinner (Tuesday through Saturday).
- Brasserie Le Suffren (84 Avenue de Suffren), just steps away from the Champ de Mars, is a typical French brasserie that serves affordably priced, traditional French cuisine in a contemporary-style dining room or on the pleasant outdoor terrace.
Nearby Bakeries & Chocolate Shops
- Maison Bergeron (112 Rue Saint-Dominique) is a destination for croissants, bread, sandwiches, and traditional pâtisserie specialties such as macarons, fruit tarts, eclairs, cannelés, and mousse cake.
- Maison Le Roux (52 Rue Saint-Dominique) makes visitors swoon over its handmade chocolate truffles, caramels, and other sweets. This artisanal boutique is also a great place to pick up gift boxes of chocolate candies to bring home.
- Jean-Paul Hévin (23 Bis, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet) is another artisanal chocolatier that offers chocolate truffles, chocolate bars, macarons, and chocolate cakes. Tourists will also appreciate the boxed chocolates and creative gift items.
- Lenôtre (36 Avenue de la Motte-Picquet) is one of the finest pâtisserie shops in Paris with a wide selection of artisan chocolates, classic French pastries, macarons, and decadent desserts.
- À la Mère de Famille (35 Rue Cler) holds the distinction of being the oldest chocolaterie in Paris. Founded in 1761, this esteemed chocolate shop creates chocolate truffles and other confections in the traditional artisanal manner. The boutique also sells cakes, macarons, and ice cream, as well as fancy gift boxes filled with the house specialties.
Places to Shop within Walking Distance of the Eiffel Tower
- Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, just a short walk from the Champ du Mars, is lined with exquisite pâtisserie shops, artisan chocolate boutiques, high-end retail boutiques, trendy restaurants, and tempting pâtisserie shops.
- Rue Cler is a pedestrian street where open-air markets are held daily in the morning. This street in the 7th arrondissement is well known by locals as a place to shop for high-quality groceries and gourmet specialty foods. There are also authentic French restaurants, bistros, cheese shops, bakeries, colorful flower boutiques, and chocolate shops (including two renowned Parisian chocolatiers: Alain Ducasse and À la Mère de Famille).
- Saxe-Breteuil Market is an open-air farmers market in the 7th arrondissement, where locals shop for fresh produce. It's also a good place for tourists to pick up supplies for a picnic.
- Rue de Grenelle near the Champ de Mars also has many casual restaurants, cafés, bakeries, retail shops, and grocery stores (handy for those who want to pick up picnic supplies).
- Rue de Passy: A short walk from the Eiffel Tower across the Seine River, the Rue de Passy, in the chic 16th arrondissement, is an upscale bourgeois address. The street is brimming with clothing stores, jewelry boutiques, enticing chocolate shops, and bakeries.
- Avenue Montaigne in the 16th arrondissement is the go-to shopping street for fashionistas in search of the latest designer clothes. This elegant avenue is lined with haute-couture fashion boutiques such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Valentino.
- Beaugrenelle Shopping Center (12 Rue Linois) in the neighboring 15th arrondissement is about a 20-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. Open every day, this multi-purpose shopping center is filled with fashion boutiques, home decor stores, restaurants, cafés, and sweet shops. The center also has a state-of-the-art cinema that screens the latest film premieres.
Things to Do & Places to Visit near the Eiffel Tower
- Scenic Cruise on the Seine River: For many tourists, a Seine River cruise is a highlight of their Paris vacation. Docked on the Seine River near the Eiffel Tower are several companies that offer boat tours, including Bateaux Parisiens (Port de la Bourdonnais) and Vedettes de Paris (Port de Suffren). Another option is a Paris Sightseeing Tour that includes a Seine River cruise and skip-the-line entry to the Eiffel Tower.
- Picnic on the Champ de Mars: In the shadow of the Iron Lady, this expansive green space offers inspiring views. The spacious lawn is a popular spot among locals for picnics. Tourists can pick up a baguette, cheese, and other picnic foods on Rue Cler, Rue Saint-Dominque, or Rue de Grenelle, which have traditional bakeries and cheese shops. The Avenue de Suffren, parallel to the park, has a couple of supermarkets.
- Visit the Musée du Quai Branly: Considered one of the top museums in Paris, the Musée du Quai Branly displays ethnic art from all over the world. The wide-ranging collection, from African tribal masks to Japanese drawings, is sure to expand horizons. This museum is one of the best places to visit in Paris to learn about the art and civilizations of various regions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceana.
- Stroll in Trocadéro Gardens: A leisurely ramble through the Jardins du Trocadéro gives tourists a chance to admire the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. The spacious fountain-adorned gardens provide the perfect perspective of the Iron Lady's graceful metal structure. During the day, this is a favorite spot for photo ops. In the evening, the garden's 20-cannon fountains are illuminated, creating a breathtaking scene.
- Amusing Activities for Kids: At the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel (on the Promenade Quai Branly) is a double-decker merry-go-round that kids will adore. In the Jardins du Trocadero, the Aquarium de Paris dazzles kids with colorful fish from all over the world. The Champ de Mars has an old-fashioned Théâtre de Marionnettes (puppet theater) that presents enchanting fairy-tale stories (French language only).
- Learn About France's Military History: About a 15-minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower is one of the top tourist attractions of Paris. The Hôtel National des Invalides, also known as Les Invalides, was created by King Louis XIV as a hospital for disabled war veterans. The 17th-century building continues to operate as a hospital for injured soldier and also houses the Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum), as well as the Eglise du Dôme (Church of the Dome) that contains the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Tips & Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Eiffel Tower
- Tours of the Eiffel Tower: To avoid an hours' long wait, tourists can book an Eiffel Tower Skip the Line 2nd Level Access Ticket. This one-hour tour whisks participants ahead of the crowds and straight up to the Eiffel Tower's second level, where a tour guide shares interesting details about the Eiffel Tower and the Paris landmarks seen from viewing platform.
- Paris Sightseeing Tours: A more comprehensive sightseeing tour, the Eiffel Tower Priority Access Summit Option with Seine River Cruise and City Tour is a four-hour itinerary that includes skip-the-line access to the Eiffel Tower, a Seine River Cruise, and a coach tour of Paris' beautiful boulevards and historic monuments.
- Tickets: Prices vary depending on the type of visit. A lift ticket to the first and second floors is more expensive than a stairs ticket to the same levels. The ticket cost also increases if it includes access to the top of the tower. To avoid waiting in line, you can buy lift tickets online two months in advance and up to three hours before your visit.
- Discount Tickets: Discount ticket prices are available for children age four to 11, and youth under 24 years old. Admission is free for children age three and younger.
- Opening Hours: The Eiffel Tower is open year-round. For most of year, the hours are from 9:30am until midnight. During summertime, the hours are extended from 9:00am until 1:45am. More information about the Eiffel Tower opening hours is found on the official website.
- Avoiding the Crowds: With nearly seven million visitors a year, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world, so it gets crowded. The least crowded times are around 9am and after 6pm (in summer, the Eiffel Tower is open later in the evening).
- Climbing the Eiffel Tower: You can skip the elevator lines by taking the stairs, saving a few euros as well. Keep in mind that there are 360 steps to the first floor and another 344 steps (for a total of 704 steps) to the second floor. The top of the tower is not accessible by stairs.
- Watch Your Valuables: Pickpockets know that this is the top tourist attraction in Paris, and unfortunately, thefts occur here, especially in the crowded areas and elevators. Be sure to attach a camera strap to avoid dropping it from the viewing platforms.
- Accessibility: The 1st floor and 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower are wheelchair-accessible by elevator. The top of the Eiffel Tower (third level) is not accessible to wheelchair users. Tip: At the ticketing entrance at the base of the Eiffel Tower, the Groups Counter at the West Pillar (Pilier Ouest) provides faster service to visitors with disabilities.
- Getting to the Eiffel Tower: The nearest Métro stations are Bir-Hakeim, Trocadéro, Iéna, and Passy. The RER train stops at the Champ de Mars - Tour Eiffel station. The most relaxing way to arrive is by Batobus (a boat that makes nine stops along the Seine River), which drops passengers off at the Port de la Bourdonnais, within easy walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
- Parking: The most convenient parking near the Eiffel Tower is at the Parking Pullman Tour Eiffel lot (18 avenue de Suffren) just 300 meters away from the entrance to the monument. Another option is the Parking Quai Branly lot (25 Quai Branly), 500 meters away from the Eiffel Tower.
- La Tour Eiffel, Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris
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