I come to this post with similar feelings I had when writing my entries on the Musée du Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Didn’t I start Les Musées de Paris to avoid world-famous tourist traps? Isn’t the point of this blog to introduce readers to Paris’ unfamous, forgotten-feeling museums and sights?
Of course, the lesser-known museums of Paris are the bread and butter of this blog. But LMdP is also about guiding you through the world’s tourism capital in ways that leave you feeling you’ve had a meaningful, authentic visit, whatever that means. And the Tour Eiffel is an important part of that for many people.
You probably know that the Eiffel Tower was built in the late 1880s by industrial architect Gustave Eiffel in preparation for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, and was originally intended as a temporary structure for that World’s Fair. When it became wildly famous – both loved and hated by the French, much like the Centre Pompidou or the Louvre Pyramid – it was made permanent, and still operates as a radio tower to this day.
By all means, if you enjoy climbing famous monuments and you want to lean into the keychains and queues of perhaps the most famous monument of all, then you should do it. I’ve done it before – and again, and again, for visiting family and friends – and eventually made a pact with myself never to return. But it’s not that I don’t love the Eiffel Tower. It’s that being inside and beside it isn’t nearly as charming as seeing it from afar.
The iron curves and iconic silhouette of the tour Eiffel are best taken in from the (free) viewing platforms at the Palais de Chaillot, next to the Trocadéro metro station. (The site is home to its own array of museums, including the Musée de l’Homme, the Musée national de la Marine and the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine.) When loved ones come to visit me who’ve never been to Paris before, I will often take them to this metro stop without explaining why (timing an evening arrival on the hour, when it sparkles for five minutes) and delight in their faces as we emerge from the station and they drink in the view for the first time. You can cross the river from there and walk up to it if you wish, but the view is the highlight; close enough to feel the tower loom over you, but far enough away to take in the whole thing.
But for me, the Eiffel Tower is at its loveliest when I’m just going about my day, turn a corner and come across it by chance. It may only be a glimpse of a corner of the structure, and I may only look at it for a moment, but it reminds me where I am.
Locals may say they hate the Eiffel Tower and the tourist industry that surrounds it. But few will pretend they don’t enjoy these surprise moments, when the columns and loops, somehow both industrial and decorative, soar into view above a side street or through the trees in a quiet park. That’s not a tourist trap. That’s just Paris.
Xx La Muséophile
Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France, métro to visit the tower: Bir-Hakeim (line 6), Ecole Militaire (line 8) or Pont de l’Alma (RER C), métro to view it: Trocadéro (lines 6 or 9)
Full fare: from €11,30 – €28,30, depending on choice of floor and of stairs vs. elevator
Reduced fare: free – €14,10 depending on age/floor/stairs vs. elevator
Opening hours: Every day from 9.30am to 10.45pm
Wheelchair accessible + discounted rate for disability