I say skip the Eiffel Tower. (If you know your visit to Paris will be a brief one, that is.)
Why spend your precious hours in line below the tower, when you can enjoy its splendor from various spots around this stunning city?
In the 1890’s a Parisian might have suggested the opposite. In fact, the writer Guy de Maupassant was noted as having spent his lunch hours eating from the restaurant inside the tower…so as to remove the “eyesore” from his view!
The tower, built for the 1889 World’s Fair, celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution and was meant to be standing only temporarily (a two year arrangement and then it was to be disassembled). Clearly though, the Parisians not only became used to the mammoth tower but eventually got in line with the rest of the world who already revered it for its originality and unique beauty. Most importantly, though, it gained recognition for its usefulness as a radiotelegraph station during WWI and again in WWII.
French stories have it that during the German occupation of Paris the resistance fighters cut the tower’s elevator cables, forcing the Nazis to climb the immense stairs.
Today the structure, that took nearly 20,000 pieces of iron and over two million rivets to assemble, employs over 500 workers to upkeep its daily operations! It welcomes 7 million visitors per year, which is more than any other paid tourist attraction in the world.
One of the most notable visitors of all time is Thomas Edison. Reading on the grandeur of the World’s Fair, I revel for a moment imaging this scene:
When Thomas Edison visited Paris to ascend the great iron spectacle, Eiffel invited him to his private apartment within the tower. High above the City of Lights they were serenaded on the piano by the composer of Faust, Charles Gounod, before Edison demonstrated his latest talking phonograph.
As this surreal scene pieces together in my mind, I can’t help but ask a very practical question: “How did they get a piano into this apartment in the sky!?”. After a bit of research, I have found that this piano was lifted by crane and placed within the designer’s home before the completion of its construction!
Once the tallest building in the world (surpassed after 41 years with the erection of the Chrysler Building inNew York City), the Eiffel Tower covers 2.5 acres of land and require 50 tons of paint every seven years. This world famous icon is also referred to as “La dame de fer”, which means The Iron Lady: A fitting name for the strong yet delicate design.