All those who had the fortune to visit Eiffel Tower will agree that with the first glimpse of the majestic 120 years old structure you will feel impressed and the trip was worth it. You had heard & seen this tower so many times in pictures and now it is right in front of your eyes standing tall as ever. Anyone one can get ecstatic seeing a structure which is visited by seven million people annually which I understand is s the most visited paid structure in the world. It may be one of the most written about structures in the world. When it was constructed in 1889 it was the world’s tallest man-made structure.
While on a business tour to Netherlands I had the good fortune to squeeze in a visit to Paris on a weekend to see the Eiffel Tower about which I had heard so much and it was at the top of my bucket list to be ticked off.
I visited Paris with Narender, my dear friend & colleague in February 2016. After landing in France we went straight to our Hotel De L’ Ocean in Le Gare Du Nord. We were looking for a cheap hotel not too far from the Eiffel Tower & other popular monuments worth visiting in Paris. We found this hotel within our budget and not too far away from Eiffel Tower. The public transport system is good in Paris. The bus service is especially good & cheap. The bus will virtually drop you off at the doorsteps of most popular places around Paris. Paris offers many other landmark places to visit apart from Eiffel tower. There are many museums, art boutiques, Chapels etc.
Le Gare Du Nord is a busy place. On exploring further we were surprised to find many Tamilian (South Indian) owned hotels & shops across the streets. Later we came to know that this place was also known as Little India. Narender was particularly happy with this discovery since he is a staunch vegetarian. He was happy to check out the Shravanna Bhavan & other Indian restaurants around. Shravanna Bhawan is a popular Chennai based restaurant with their chain spread across few countries.
The next day we decided to take a bus to Eiffel Tower. Due to some mis-communication we lost each other and we both missed our bus. We traveled by different buses as we both had planned to visit Eiffel Tower. We did not have a local cell phone to contact the other.
The comfortable bus ride took me to the Eiffel tower stop in around forty minutes. The Eiffel Tower is a located on the Left Bank of the River Seine, and three bridges nearby provide access to the tower from different sides. Pont d’Lena is immediately in front of the tower. This bridge is very elegant & beautiful built by Napoleon in 1807. The bridge is in very good condition due to its continuous maintenance. During my visit the bridge was under maintenance on one side and new support pillars to a depth of 46 meters where being piled to strengthen the bridge to cater to heavy traffic flow in future.
Many people especially families & couples be seen taking selfies and pictures on the bridge. There is a proper pedestrian walkway on the bridge. I did not see Pont d’Alma & Pont de Bir Hakim, the other two bridges which, is to the northeast and southwest respectively. These bridges are not only a means of vehicular traffic, but they also lend a charming & romantic aura to the place. I saw couple of brides & grooms straight out of the church after their wedding vows posing for pictures in front of the iconic tower. They had brought in professional photographers to make their wedding album truly memorable for them to cherish for a life time.
Eiffel tower opened in 1889. It is a lattice wrought iron-built structure of 324 meters height. It is named after Gustave Eiffel whose company built the tower. It was the tallest man-made structure for about 41 years. It is a marvel to look at the mammoth observatory which was opened as entry to world fairs or the universal exposition held in Paris in 1889. Gustave Eiffel and his company has been involved in building many architectural wonders not only in France but all over the world. He has also contributed in the building of statue of liberty. His expertise was building bridges and railway stations. Approximately sixty tonnes of paint are applied every seven years as part of its maintenance.
The tower has three floors or platforms. A visitor can visit up to the third floor or platform which is at 274 meters. Above that is the antenna. To get to the second platform which is at 115 meters there is an option to climb the stairs or go up the elevator. Walking to the second platform will cost seven Euros and an elevator will cost eleven Euros. An elevator can take a visitor from the second platform to third platform which will cost an additional six euros. There is no walking option from the second platform to the third platform.
I decided to take the stairs to climb the 115 meters to the second stage. Climbing the circular wrought iron stair case is safe as the sides are protected with steel mesh’s. Those who can climb stairs must take the stairs as this will give you better insight into the construction of the tower. You can see the huge steel beams. The millions of rivets will fascinate you. You can see the lights that illuminate the tower at night. You don’t have to fear the height as you climb to the top. The platform two viewing deck has two levels. Here you have a cafeteria where you can relax with a coffee and enjoy the view. There are other commercial shops selling souvenirs of Eiffel tower. The view from the second stage is magnificent. We can see the boats & cruises on the Sienne river.
To reach the third platform a visitor needs to take the ticket from the counter below the tower. There is no elevator going directly to the third platform from the ground floor of the tower. Like on the second platform there are two levels of viewing deck. Upper & lower. The lower deck is meshed but the nets are wider for the visitor to get a better view without any obstructions. On the lower deck there are many pictures showing the construction & technical details of the tower. A stair leads to the upper deck. All viewing decks have 360-degree view. The view is spectacular & breath taking. You can see almost the entire Paris on a clear day. You can identify some of the monuments of the city. The churches, house & streets appear very tiny. You can also have telescopic view of the city through the telescopes placed on the side’s by paying some Euros. On the upper deck of the third platform one can feel the weather. In February the cold winds will blow right on to your face and create a chill. After some invigorating viewing it was time for me to take the elevator and go down.
When I reached down it was almost getting dark in the evening. There was a big crowd of tourist from all over the globe. I could hear laughter and shouting of kids playing. Among the crowd I spotted my friend Narender to my relief. We bargained with the Bangladeshi vendor’s illegally selling souvenirs below the tower. You can get a better deal out of them compared to the souvenir prices in the shops around the tower. Our visit to the Eiffel tower came to an end and we headed back to our hotel with some amazing memories.