Climbing The Eiffel Tower

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CLIMBING THE EIFFEL TOWER IS FUN AND THE VIEWS ARE SPECTACULAR

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The Eiffel Tower was constructed between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.  It is not the tallest tower in the world, but at 324 metres it still makes an impression.  And of course, this tower is unique, made up of wrought iron lattice work that lets the breeze blow through without making the tower sway … well, not too much.   It is a wonder of engineering.

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SECURITY IS TIGHT AROUND THE EIFFEL TOWER

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When you arrive, you must go through metal detectors and a security screening to access the area beneath the tower.  Bags are searched and put through X-ray scanners.  These line-ups can take some time to navigate, although on a Tuesday afternoon in October the crowds were small and we were through security fairly quickly.

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LINE-UPS CAN STRETCH FOR A LONG WAYS IF YOU DON’T PLAN AHEAD

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During peak months in the summer, it is strongly advised that you go to the website and reserve your tickets in advance at  http://www.toureiffel.paris/en.html . This will help you get through security faster and avoid lining up for hours to get to the top.  Another way to skip the lines is to make a reservation at one of the restaurants, which have their own elevators to take you to the first and second level of the tower.  The prices for these restaurants are nearly as high as the tower itself, but if you are willing to spend more, you can get a truly unique experience.

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THE EIFFEL TOWER HAS THREE MAIN LEVELS FOR TOURISTS.   THIS IS THE VIEW LOOKING UP FROM THE SECOND LEVEL TO THE TOP

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There are three levels to the tower.  The first and second level can be accessed either by climbing the stairs (which is a cheaper option, and very interesting to do), or by an elevator that is on a rail … in essence, a very steep funicular.

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THE LOWER ELEVATOR TO THE FIRST AND SECOND LEVEL GOES UP AT AN ANGLE

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The lower elevators each ride up one of the legs of the tower at a bit of an angle.  The carriage of the elevator is angled so that the patrons inside stay level.  Both the first and second levels are included in one admission ticket.  If you look at the top picture of this blog, you will see level one is just above the first arch and level two is where the base meets the upper tower.

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WE CHOSE TO CLIMB THE STAIRS

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The climb from the ground to the first and second level of the Eiffel tower has many advantages. It is slightly cheaper.  There is hardly any line-up at all, so you can get up the tower faster.  You are not crammed into a tightly packed elevator with a lot of other people.  But most importantly, it gives you a greater sense of how the tower was built.  The section from the ground to the first level takes around 15 minutes and keeps you fairly central in the legs of the tower. The stairs are caged in for safety.

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PETE APPROACHES THE TOP OF ONE OF THE SETS OF STAIRS WHILE CLIMBING THE EIFFEL TOWER

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LOOKING DOWN AS WE CLIMB THE LOWER PART OF THE EIFFEL TOWER

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WHEN YOU REACH THE FIRST LEVEL, LOVELY VIEWS OPEN UP

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The first floor features a restaurant, and shops around the perimeter, but the first and second levels don’t have a floor that stretches all the way across.  The centre of the tower has a huge rectangular hole.

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LOOKING UP AT THE FIRST LEVEL, THE INNER PART OF THE TOWER IS AN OPEN SPACE.  IN THE WINTER, THEY COVER THIS SPACE WITH A SKATING RINK

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 The first level also has a glass floor that sneaks out in curved sections on the perimeter of the hole in the centre.  I didn’t have the nerve to stand on it, but Pete did.  He said he was fine, as long as he didn’t look down.

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PETE STANDS ON THE GLASS FLOOR ON THE FIRST LEVEL.

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We still had more stairs to climb.  The total climb from the ground to the second level is 704 stairs.

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THIS WAY TO LEVEL TWO

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THE STAIRS BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND LEVEL TAKE YOU HIGHER UP AND CLOSER TO THE EDGE OF THE TOWER

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AND THE VIEWS GET EVEN BETTER

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So is it worth it to go to the very top?  Well, if you have paid to walk up the stairs of the tower, your ticket only covers the cost of going to the 2nd level.  People who choose to ride the elevator can also buy a cheaper ticket to ride only to the 2nd level.  If you want to go to the very top,  you either purchase a ticket that includes all three levels at the base … or, you wait and see how crowded the lines are and pay an extra 6 euros to go to the top when you get to the second level. The combined cost of walking up to the second level and the elevator to the top was still cheaper than the combined ticket to take the two sets of elevators from the base to the very top.  Many tourists only go to the 2nd level. We decided to get as high as we could.

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GOING UP THE ELEVATORS TO THE TOP IS AN ADRENALINE RUSH

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The upper elevators are square boxes with sliding doors on two sides for entry and exit.  They fit about 20 people each and go straight up the centre of the tower.  As you climb, there is less and less of the grid work of the tower around you, and more open space … and the elevators have glass walls.  The top of the ride only puts you 906 feet above the ground, but when you are in those elevators being lifted by a single cable above you … well,   it is  exciting.

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AS YOU RIDE THE ELEVATOR, THERE ISN’T MUCH METAL BESIDE YOU ANYMORE

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THERE’S ALWAYS CHAMPAGNE AT THE TOP TO TAKE THE EDGE OFF AFTER YOUR RIDE TO THE TOP

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For those wanting a drink at the top, small glasses of champagne can be purchased for 13 euros.

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THIS SIGN COMPARES TOWERS AROUND THE WORLD … THERE’S TORONTO’S CN TOWER OVER 6000 KILOMETRES AWAY

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THE VIEWS FROM THE TOP ARE MAGNIFICENT

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GUSTAV EIFFEL ACTUALLY HAD AN APARTMENT AT THE TOP OF THE TOWER.  THIS EXHIBIT SHOWS A MEETING WITH THOMAS EDISON THAT WAS REPORTED TO HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN 1889 IN THE STUDY.  HOW AMAZING WOULD IT BE TO LIVE AT THE TOP OF THE TOWER?

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TIME TO DESCEND BACK TO EARTH

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After spending 20 minutes at the top both on the inside and outside, we made our way back to the central elevators and rode down to level 2.  Passage on the elevators going down is free, even if you only paid the rate to climb the stairs, so we rode the funicular style elevators all the way down to the ground.  The Eiffel tower is grand to look at from afar, but it is amazing to walk up, and even more exciting to take that ride up to the top.

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Tomorrow … our final adventures in France … the town of Arras

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Fenton & White 

 

 

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