Visiting the Eiffel Tower: Highlights, Tips & Tours
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One of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel) symbolizes Paris. Before arriving here, visitors have a vivid image of this monument as seen in a postcard, movie, or on a keychain, yet the Eiffel Tower still manages to amaze.
This masterpiece of architectural achievement soars to a height of 324 meters. A feat of ingenuity, the structure of 18,000 iron parts is held together by 2.5 million rivets.
Despite its massive weight, the Eiffel Tower has an airy lattice construction with the seeming lightness of a ballerina on point. The graceful tower is also known as the "Iron Lady."
The unusual architectural form makes many people wonder why the Eiffel Tower was built in the first place. Its original raison d'être was to serve as the entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World's Fair).
In 1887, the Journal Officiel launched a competition for a tower to be exhibited at the fair. Entrepreneur Gustave Eiffel, along with architect Stephen Sauvestre and collaborating engineers, submitted the winning project.
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–they are much larger than one would expect and are spacious enough to hold ticket offices, staircases, and elevators.
To take the elevator to the first and second floors, visitors must go to the East Pillar (Pilier Est) or West Pillar (Pilier Ouest). The East Pillar and West Pillar have ticket offices, where visitors can purchase tickets on the spot. However, it's recommended to purchase tickets in advance online.
Those who 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 West Pillar (Pilier Ouest) has an information desk and a boutique that sells souvenirs. The East Pillar (Pilier Est) has a kiosk that sells Eiffel Tower mementos.
The gardens around the Eiffel Tower's esplanade have been recently renovated with gorgeous landscaping. Visitors 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 also has a cafeteria, where visitors can grab snacks or have a casual meal before exploring the Eiffel Tower.
Visitors can choose to ride the elevator or walk up 360 steps to the first level. At an altitude of 57 meters, the first 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 first level features more than 2,000 square meters of outdoor space. There is terrace seating, where visitors can relax and take in the sensational panoramas.
This level has public restrooms; a souvenir shop with many products that are made in France; and a cafeteria that serves sweets, snacks, and quick meals. There is even a post office that will stamp your mail with a special postmark.
The brasserie on the first floor is currently undergoing renovations and is set to reopen in 2022.
At an altitude of 125 meters, the second floor offers awe-inspiring vistas of the Paris cityscape. The buildings along the Seine River can be easily distinguished, whereas the first level has less perspective, and on the top of the Eiffel Tower, the sights appear small in the distance.
Visitors can take the elevator or take the stairs from the ground level or first level. The second level has public restrooms, two gift shops, and a cafeteria. The viewing platform includes telescopes for admiring the scene of Paris.
The second level draws many gourmands to Le Jules Verne, a Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant with unforgettable views. 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.
Official site: www.lejulesverne-paris.com/en
Not for the faint of heart or for those with a fear of heights, the top level 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, visitors 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 has been restored to its original condition. 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 level, 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. The landmark is at its most enchanting at night when it is illuminated with Golden Lighting that glows from lamps placed inside the tower's framework. The effect is truly magical. 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 1am in the morning, 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
For those who want the perfect photo of themselves with the Eiffel Tower in the background, there are two excellent options: Across the river from the Eiffel Tower, the Place du Trocadero offers a gorgeous viewpoint.
Closer to the tower, the Champ de Mars allows tourists 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.
Where to Stay near the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower presides over the Left Bank of the Seine River in Paris' 7th arrondissement, a chic quartier (neighborhood) with tree-lined avenues and classy Haussmann buildings. As residential neighborhoods, the 7th and the nearby 16th arrondissements give visitors a taste of fashionable Parisian life. Tourists can immerse themselves in the local ambience at sidewalk cafés, open-air markets, and old-time French restaurants.
- Parisian sophistication and chic contemporary style define the four-star Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel, which is just steps away from the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River. The sleek guest rooms are outfitted with coffee machines and luxuries such as slippers and robes. Many rooms have private balconies, and some rooms have windows that frame the Iron Lady. Amenities include a concierge, room service, and fitness center.
- In the category of hotels overlooking the Eiffel Tower, the Shangri-La Hotel boasts the most stunning views. This lavish five-star hotel in the 16th arrondissement occupies the former residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte, which is listed as a Historical Monument. Guest rooms feature classical French decor with sweeping outlooks onto the Eiffel Tower or the Jardins du Trocadéro. Amenities include a pampering spa, indoor swimming pool, and three restaurants.
- The ultimate in luxury and refinement, The Peninsula Paris is an opulent five-star hotel on a quiet residential street in the 16th arrondissement, within easy walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. The minimalistic guest rooms feature fine bed linens, marble-accented bathrooms, and state-of-the-art entertainment centers. The hotel has a spa, fitness center, indoor pool, and six restaurants including one on the rooftop terrace.
- Tucked away on a side street just a few steps from the Champ de Mars park and the Eiffel Tower, the Hôtel de Londres Eiffel appeals to travelers who prefer boutique accommodations. This three-star hotel has a quaint interior decorated in a cheerful style with classic French touches. The cozy guest rooms are outfitted with coffee machines and l'Occitane toiletries; some rooms have Eiffel Tower views.
- The Hôtel La Bourdonnais, across from the Champ de Mars and a short walk from the Eiffel Tower, provides four-star accommodations with a cosmopolitan vibe. This classy boutique hotel has an inviting library and breakfast room where a French-style petit dejeuner buffet is served. The plush interior features rich colors and travel-themed accents. Guest rooms include coffee machines, slippers, bathrobes, and fancy toiletries.
- Nestled in a peaceful residential area, the Hôtel Villa Saxe Eiffel is within easy walking distance of the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. This four-star hotel offers top-notch amenities: a concierge, fitness center, café, snack bar, and room service. Decorated in a chic contemporary style, the guest rooms feature complimentary coffee and tea and Fragonard toiletries. A typical French breakfast buffet is available.
- The three-star Hôtel Le Cercle Tour Eiffel is found on a pleasant tree-lined street in a lively residential area near the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars. Tourists will appreciate the wide selection of cafés, restaurants, and shops just around the corner on the Avenue de la Motte-Picquet. The hotel's spacious guest rooms feature sophisticated decor and flat-screen televisions. Amenities include concierge services and breakfast with fresh-baked baguettes and croissants.
- The Hôtel Eiffel Rive Gauche is found in a charming neighborhood of the 7th arrondissement, just a short walk from the Champs de Mars and close to shops and restaurants on the Rue Saint-Dominique and the Rue de Grenelle. The guest rooms are small but stylish and up-to-date. One of the rooms has a view of the Eiffel Tower, while others look out onto the Parisian rooftops. A continental-style breakfast buffet is available.
- The Hôtel de France Invalides boasts a beautiful location in the 7th arrondissement facing the gilded dome of Les Invalides (about a 15-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower). The cozy guest rooms feature vibrant decor and updated bathrooms. Some of the rooms have views of the Invalides dome. For those traveling alone, the single-person rooms are a good deal. A gourmet breakfast buffet is available.
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 Champs 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.
- 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.
Where to Go for a Casual Meal or Coffee Break near the Eiffel Tower
- 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.
- Ulysee en Gaule (28 Rue Cler), amid the many restaurants, cafés, and shops of Rue Cler is a Greek restaurant and crêperie that offers savory and sweet crepes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This small, casual restaurant is within easy walking distance of the Champ de Mar and 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Café Constant (139 Rue Saint-Dominique) is one of Chef Christian Constant's triumvirate of dining establishments on this fashionable street. A casual bistro-style restaurant that is open every day, Café Constant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus that are a good value considering the quality.
- Les Cocottes (135 Rue Saint-Dominique) caters to locals and tourists seeking a trendy ambience and hearty cooking. Another establishment owned by Chef Christian Constant, 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.
- 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.
Nearby Bakeries & Chocolate Shops
- Lemoine (74 Rue Saint-Dominique) is a destination for macarons, chocolates, and other traditional pâtisserie specialties such as nougat and canelés de Bordeaux.
- 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) has 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 Champs du Mars, is lined with exquisite pâtisserie shops, artisan chocolate boutiques, high-end retail boutiques, trendy restaurants, and tempting pâtisserie shops.
- Rue Cler is an adorable pedestrian street with a village ambience. This street in the 7th arrondissement is most renowned for its gourmet specialty food boutiques. There are also authentic French restaurants, cute sidewalk cafés, and bakeries, as well as its colorful flower boutiques.
- 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. 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 Champs 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 Trocadero 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: Families with young children will find plenty of entertaining things to do in the area. 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 featuring friendly-looking white horses that kids will adore. With its show-stopping unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower, the carousel is a fun place for photo ops. Just across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower in the Jardins du Trocadero, the Aquarium de Paris dazzles kids with colorful fish from all over the world. The Champ de Mars has a delightful Napoléon III style 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 Priority 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 and Paris 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. However, tickets with stairs access are not available online, they must be purchased on the spot at the South Pillar.
- 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 11:45pm. 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 lines can be hours long. They are shortest before 9am, after 6pm (in summer, the Eiffel Tower is open later in the evening), and off season. Usually, the least crowded entrance is the East Pillar.
- 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 first level and second level 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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