Here’s the thing about the Eiffel Tower. It’s the icon of Paris and can be seen from miles away. It’s on every tourist’s tick list and is the one place you’ll make a beeline for if you’re a first time visitor to Paris.
In general I’m allergic to any place that attracts huge crowds and has ‘tourist trap’ written all over it. The ‘beware of pickpockets’ signs and the African lookie lookie men selling Eiffel Tower key rings, four for for €1, should be enough to get your tourist trap radar beeping.
But then again, when taking your children to Paris for the first time, you want them to remember the experience. You imagine the discussing it with their friends – ‘What did you do at half term?’ – ‘We went up the Eiffel tower’ – ‘cool’. Or perhaps the conversation would be more like ‘we went up the Eiffel tower’ – ‘oh we went there last year, how long did you have to queue?’ At least we could tick the box and then move on to something more authentic like sitting in a nearby cafe with an expensive coffee and baguette.
We had one day to get a taste of Paris on a day trip from our 4 day break with Eurocamp. Luckily the holiday parc of La Croix du Vieux Pont at Berny Riviere, laid on a coach trip which was cheaper than taking the train and a good deal more stress free than any other transport option. We decided that first thing on our list to visit should be the Eiffel Tower.
First decision on arrival – take the lift to the 2nd or 3rd floor or attempt the walk up. Your strategy will be influenced by your budget, the length of the queues for the lift and how fit you’re feeling. Our strategy was to take the lift to the top and then walk down. We joined the queue for the lift and filtered through a security check to the lift that whisked us up to the 2nd floor. We decided not to linger here but joined the queue for the separate lift to take us right up to the 3rd floor at the top. Finally around an hour later we were there and took in the 360 degree views from the top, first from the heated enclosed platform with flags all around it, indicating the directions of different countries in the world, next from the windy upper platform. Amazingly there was a toilet right at the top, and of course we made full use of it just ‘because it’s there’. Apparently there’s also a champagne bar up there for that romantic moment with your beloved, but obviously not a stopping off point for us with teenagers in tow.
Next we binned out of the strategy to walk down (it seemed an awful long way) and just took the lift down again to the 2nd floor. There we had a proper look around, ventured into the information area and cafe where there were a few information boards about. I also noticed that there were i-pads to rent there for €7 per hour to find out more about the Eiffel Tower and the different sights around Paris that can be seen from the top.
Next we descended to the 1st floor where there were some interactive exhibits but by then we were ready to move on so we didn’t stop too long. I did leave with the impression that there was a missed opportunity to give lots more information and inspiration about the Eiffel tower when you’re actually there, although we probably didn’t make the most of what was there onthe 1st floor. I don’t even remember getting any leaflet with my ticket telling me all that was on offer on the tower. Looking at the website now, I see that there’s actually loads of information there, so if you’re visiting with children, I’d take a look at some of the online resources to get into the mood before you go.
For me I can’t say I felt the magic, it was more of a tick in the box, but after experiencing similar crowds at the Pantheon and the Colisseum in Rome when I visited with my son, I suppose I should know better by now.
So, if you’ve visited the Eiffel Tower, how was it for you? Did you feel the romance of Paris or get put off by the queues?
- Take a look at the Eiffel Tower website in advance for information and downloadable resources to prepare for your visit.
- The Eiffel Tower is on the South Bank (Rive Gauche) of the Seine, and the nearest metro isChamp de Mars-Tour (Line C)
- Details of entrance fees are available on the website and at the time of writing are €13.50 for elevator to 3rd floor, €8.50 for elevator to 2nd floor, €4.50 for stairs to 2nd floor with reduced prices for youths and children.
- From the banks of the nearby river Seine, you can take a Batobus (river bus) or walk along the bank to many of the other sightseeing stops such as the Louvre, Hotel de Ville, Musee D’Orsay and Notre Dame.
- We visited Paris while a guest of Eurocamp at the holiday parc at La Croix du Vieux Pont at Berny Riviere. The parc is ideal for a family holiday, set in beautiful countryside and with many sports facilities and entertainments on site. The parc is around 1hr 15 mins from Paris and coach trips are arranged from La Croix du Vieux Pont, making it easy to spend a day in Paris as part of your family holiday.
Other adventures in Paris
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