Open daily mid-June to Aug 9am-midnight; Sep to mid-June 9.30am-11pm.
Lift to top: € 15; young people aged 12-24 € 13.50; children 4-11 € 10.50. Lift to second floor € 9.50; young people age 12-24 € 7.50; children 4-11€ 4.50. Stairs to second floor €5; young people aged 12-24 € 4; children €4-11 3. Children under four free.
Advance booking for the Eiffel Tower
Booking in advance for a time slot — every half hour between 9am and 9.30pm — gets priority access to the Eiffel Tower’s sought-after lifts. Print the ticket out or use it on your mobile phone (providing the bar code is readable). All time slots are currently pretty much fully booked for at least the next two months, although the website shows when there are occasional free slots.
The views from the top are amazing. Picture: Alamy
Beware of tickets offered by some websites or tour organizations at almost three times the price: a ticket on the official Eiffel Tower website (www.toureiffel.paris) costs €15 for an adult, a “Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Ticket Only” on getyourguide.com orviator.com (despite the latter’s “low price guarantee” flag) costs € 40, and that’s for all over 4 year olds (with no reduced prices for 4-11s and 12-24s).
If you can’t reserve ahead, or simply want more freedom to choose the day and time when you want to come, then be prepared to queue — the long lines snaking round beneath are all part of the Eiffel Tower experience. The tower gets as many as 32,000 visitors a day in high summer, so even if you arrive before opening time, you won’t be alone. That said, there is more chance of shorter queues at meal times (that famous French lunchbreak), on foggy days, in winter, or late at night when the coach tours have gone. Around 9pm or 10pm can be easier. If you’re coming with small children, try to make sure there are two adults, so that one can take them off to the playground, just behind the tower on the Champs-de-Mars, while the other queues.
Walking up the Eiffel Tower
It’s hard work but the way to really appreciate Gustave Eiffel’s engineering prowess from close up, giving a vision of some of the 18,000 metal elements and 2.5 million rivets that make up the tower, with much shorter tails than for the lifts, although a surprising number of people do choose to walk. There are 704 steps to level two, where it is possible to buy a ticket for the lift up to level three.
It is possible to climb to the top, but there are 1,665 steps.
Most people take the lift. Picture: Alamy
Another (expensive but delicious) way to beat the queues is to reserve a table at Le Jules Verne restaurant (www.lejulesverne-paris.com), 125 meters up on the second floor, and served by its own lift on the south pillar. Now part of the Alain Ducasse empire, with a few witty references on the menu (a chocolate bolt pudding), it is more relaxed than many gastronomic restaurants, as diners rush off to take snapshots, but don’t wear the shorts and tee- shirts of other tower visitors. Lunch menu from €98, dinner menu from €185.
You can also reserve for the less-exclusive 58 Tour Eiffel on the first floor at 58 metres, given a slick makeover by Patrick Jouin a couple of years ago and taken into the Ducasse fold. At lunch, meals are served in a “picnic-style” basket (with internet reservation 11.30am, 1.30pm €40.50; without reservation 11.30am-4.30pm), for dinner, it’s a smarter brasserie-style meal (with internet reservation only 6.30pm or 9pm, from €80, child under 12 €25.50). Reservations include the lift to the first floor, collect the ticket from the restaurant kiosk between the north and east pillars.
The tower when it opened in 1889. Picture: Alamy
Alternatives to the Eiffel Tower: a view without a queue
1. Arc de Triomphe (arc-de-triomphe.monuments-nationaux.fr)
View from 50 meters (and 284 steps) up of the “grand perspective” down the Champs-Elysées through the Tuileries gardens to the Louvre and in the other direction to the Grande Arche de la Défense, but above all the hypnotic vision of the cars milling about below. €9.50; under-18s and EU nationals under 25 free.
2. Center Pompidou (centrepompidou.fr)
A fabulous view not so much for its height as the way the city unfolds around you as you go up the sequence of escalators. €10-€12 if you want to see the museum and exhibitions; €3 if you only want the escalator ride.
3. Towers of Notre Dame (notre-dame-de-paris.monuments-nationaux.fr)
Historic and atmospheric. You often have to queue here too, though nothing like as long as for the Eiffel Tower. A steep, narrow climb (240 steps) inside the north tower, across the gallery on the west front with the bonus of gargoyles and chimeras, and a second shorter climb (147 steps) up the south tower onto the roof for a view that places you right in the very center of Paris. €8.50; under-18s and EU nationals under 25 free.
4. Montparnasse Tower (tourmontparnasse56.com)
Like Maupassant who visited the Eiffel Tower every day so he didn’t have to see it, here you can avoid looking at this relic of Paris’s 1970s skyscraping ambitions. The lift takes 38 seconds up to the 56th floor viewing lounge with interactive panels and a café, with stairs up to the 59th floor outdoor viewing deck. Lower than the Eiffel Tower but more central – and with the bonus of a view of the Eiffel Tower. €14.50, 16-20 and students €11.50, children aged 7-15 €9.
5. Buttes-Chaumont Park
For its free panorama over Paris from the Temple de la Sybille atop a rocky crag.
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About Natasha Edwards
Natasha has lived in Paris for almost 20 years and is a former editor of the Time Out Paris guide.