The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower looking north east across the Seine to the Place de la Concorde. Image: Kevin Ritchie
If you're going to Paris, it almost beggars the imagination that you might not get to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Built over two years in time for Paris's 1889 World Fair by Gustave Eiffel, an engineer who also helped build the Statue of Liberty, it was the tallest building in the world for 40 years until the Chrysler building in New York overtook it in 1930. It’s still the tallest observation deck in Europe at 271m for the third level, while the tower itself is 324m high, the equivalent of an 81-storey building.

It was supposed to be a temporary structure made for the World Fair, which was to commemorate the centenary of the French revolution, but Eiffel was distraught at the prospect of dismantling it and the wasted costs that he negotiated a 20-year lease from the city council. He needn’t have worried; he made his money back in the first six months.

The view from the very top of the Eiffel Tower
The view from the very top of the Eiffel Tower, with a telescope right at hand to zoom in on the incredible 360-degree vista. 

Today, the tower still stands, an iconic symbol of France that’s been mimicked a couple of times in the US, and there’s even one in China.

There are three levels, or étages, the first and second reached by funicular with the top stretch reached by a vertical level. There are two floors to each level. The first level is at 57 metres and the second level at 115m. The lower floor at the third level is a glass-enclosed viewing deck, while the one above offers a seriously wind swept experience on the one side and an incredible calm on the other. 

There’s a champagne bar, telescopes and a glass-fronted look at Eiffel’s apartment that he kept at the top of the tower, forever frozen into a tableau of him meeting Thomas Edison.

View over Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View over Paris from the Eiffel Tower Pictures: Kevin Ritchie

Once you’ve soaked in the sights, take the lift down to the second level with its boutiques and tuckshop. Treat yourself by walking down the staircase inside one of the legs of the tower to the first level.

There you’ll find a Michelin-starred restaurant, more shops and spectacular view, atop a glass floor onto the road that tower straddles the road - and the queues of all the people below waiting for their turn.

Irrespective of the level, the tower is impressive - and well-worth the wait as Parisians and tourists from all over the world brave the elements all-year round, from morning to midnight, to experience this enduring, and storied, engineering marvel.