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.
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.
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.