We recently travelled to Paris for a couple days with the three imps to see a few sites that for one reason or another had eluded us in the past. As we have been to Paris before, I cannot quite say that it the Eiffel Tower eluded us as it stands as a beacon over the city and the skyline would be unimaginable without it. That being said, we have never taken the trip up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and our eight year old greatly wanted to do so.
Plan Ahead – Maybe?
We purchased our tickets online approximately two months before the date as, especially in summer, dates and times tend to sell out early. When we arrived we had to endure approximately fifteen minutes in a security queue but overall it was not too overwhelming. I have in other recent blogs expressed an idea that perhaps the era of pre purchasing tickets is over and the Eiffel Tour was further evidence to my hypothesis. Once again, the line and wait was shorter, though not dramatically, for people looking to walk up and buy tickets. We, however, will continue in the near term to buy tickets in advance for sites until my hypothesis has more evidence to support it.
Don’t Arrive Early
We cleared security and proceeded to the actual entry point to take the first funicular and were quickly told to return at our assigned entry time of 10:00. We proceeded to play around with the kids for twelve minutes as the time at that point was 9:48. As we played I was just left to ponder how early was acceptable if not twelve minutes? 10? 5? 30 sec? I might add there was no one in a queue nor were there any until 10:00 which begged the question, why couldn’t we just proceed?
One should seriously consider not taking children all the way up the Eiffel Tower. In fact, if I did it again without kids, I would likely only go to the second level. Even though it was sunny and beautiful that day, it was windy and cool at the summit. The view was not any better than second floor in my opinion; in fact, I would assess it as worse. There are also few amenities at the top level and, as it is a smaller space, it was very crowded.
The Second Floor
This will be your first stop and in my opinion the best level from which to enjoy your experience at the Eiffel Tower. From here you will have great views of the city, amenities, snack bars, and a couple small, overpriced, gift shops. The kids enjoyed the view and we ate ice cream, ahem really expensive ice cream, and overall had a great experience on this level.
The First Floor
You can only stop here on the descent from the second floor. It is here you will find most of the overpriced gift shops, overpriced restaurants, and an uninspiring small museum. My son was fascinated by the glass floors and that he could look down to the ground (and that his father had no interest in even getting close to these glass floors). Overall, however, there is little of interest to see on this level and it doesn’t add to the overall experience.
Overall I would say it was a positive experience and I am glad to have done it, but it certainly does not live up to the hype. It is more of the type of activity for checklist tourism. It is a great thing to check off a list, but the experience itself is somewhat underwhelming. If you have children who are all very capable and confident on stairs and you like to climb high things for a view of the city, I much prefer the view from the Arc de Triomphe, but with infants and toddlers I would not recommend that climb. The view of the city from Sacré-Cœur is also a beautiful one and comes at a much lower cost and time commitment.
And if you want some ideas for other kid friendly days in Paris…Paris 2016 – 3 Surprisingly Kid Friendly Days (and one trap)
A Quick Aside
This summer was my third time overall in Paris within the last six years. It is sad but it must be said that terrorism has taken its toll on the city and nowhere is that more evident than at the Eiffel Tower. The space under the tower used to be wide open and vibrant. Now it is essentially closed to the public and eerily empty. Even the restrooms were closed for security reasons and replaced with portable toilets with armed military personal standing watch. I have written that fear is more our enemy than terrorism but until we can begin to solve the root causes of violence that seems increasing prevalent in our society, these scenes, I fear, will only become more familiar. One of the best things we can do is keep travelling to new lands and get to know and understand people of different cultures. Perhaps if we understand one another’s struggles better we can begin, as a species, to move past our petty differences. If you want to read more of my thoughts on tourism and travel, check this out. Paris, Brussels, and Turkey: Is it Safe to Travel With Kids?
Happy and safe travels.