The Eiffel Tower is almost always at the top of the list of “must-sees” for a first-time tourist to Paris, France. The view of the tower from below is awesome; the views of the city from above are equally so.
Last week, I wrote about the history of the tower and how it has evolved over the years. This week, I’m giving details about choosing and purchasing tickets.
Ascending the Tower
In order to ascend the tower, you must have a ticket. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or they can be purchased at the tower when you arrive.
Online tickets can be purchased up to four months ahead of your visit. Purchasing before you go can save hours of waiting in line. Although I had tried to pre-purchase tickets several times, I had always waited too long until my trip in 2016. At that time, I was able to secure tickets for four adults. When we arrived at the tower, we walked right up to the window, turned in our vouchers, and were directed to the elevator. Although the visit was during shoulder season and there may have been some wait during high season, I would recommend pre-purchasing tickets if possible.
Planning your Visit
There can be a huge advantage in buying your ticket in advance – I’ll explain the process below, but it is not always possible and sometimes may not be advisable. If there are unknowns in your plans, you might not be able to commit to a specific time to visit the tower.
One of the disadvantages of buying tickets ahead is that you do not know what the weather will be. If you are planning to visit Paris in the winter, it might be better to wait until you are there to choose the best time to ascend the tower. When visiting during the summer, you will have less chance for poor weather, so it is worth taking a chance.
If you do not want to pre-purchase tickets, or are not able to for some other reason, choosing the time of day for your visit becomes extremely important. During high season, you will almost always have to stand in line to purchase tickets.
Once, we arrived at the tower nearly an hour before it opened. Once the line started moving we had little wait, but we had waited an hour for the line to start moving. The benefit, though, is that there is not much else open so early in the morning. We picked up some croissants and ate breakfast while we waited in line and enjoyed some people-watching.
Another time, we arrived at the tower at dusk. We walked right up to the ticket window. The problem with this option is that the views of the city are not as vibrant because of the absence of strong daylight. We were, however, able to watch the lights come on in the “city of light,” which was both interesting and beautiful. If you arrive at dusk, spend some time on the second floor before continuing to the summit. (As I wrote last week, this picture is actually a violation of copyright. It is here for the first readers of the post, but will be taken down soon).
Choosing the Right Ticket
When you arrive at the ticket window, there will be three ticket options available – climbing the stairs to the second floor, taking the elevator to the second floor, or taking the elevator to the summit. The summit ticket includes a stop at the second floor and all tickets include the esplanade and first floor.
With the increased security measures in place, the esplanade or ground level – underneath the tower – is now only available to ticket holders. Looking up from under the tower shows the immensity of the structure – don’t forget to pause for a look. The esplanade is also home to a memorial to Gustave Eiffel, namesake of the tower.
The first floor includes the awesome, sometimes scary, glass floor. If you look down, you see people walking on the ground, 187 feet below. On the first floor, there is a large display of the history of the tower and a section of the spiral staircase that originally hosted climbers to the top of the tower. The first floor also has gift shops, restaurants, and a park-like atmosphere.
Some argue that the best views of the city are from the second floor. I agree that specific buildings are easier to spot and identify from this level. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the views from the second floor. This level is home to two gift shops, a buffet, and the famous – and expensive – Jules Verne restaurant. Maybe someday I’ll try it out, but at this point it is beyond my budget.
Everyone should ascend over 900 feet to the summit at least once. It is at this level, that a restored office of Gustav Eiffel can be seen. Wax models of Eiffel, his daughter, Claire, and his friend, Thomas Edison, sit in the office.
As you walk around the perimeter of the summit, a reference line points out silhouettes of tall buildings around the world and the distances to many large cities.
Buying a Ticket in Advance
Buying advanced tickets to visit the Eiffel tower is simple. Once you have chosen what type of ticket you’d like, visit the official page here. Choose the type of ticket you want. Then choose the day from the calendar. When times are available for the day you have chosen, these time options will be listed. If there are no times available, you will get an appropriate message. You can try a day before or after, or some other day during your stay, if your first choice is not available. The further in advance you are able to book, the better your chances of getting your chosen time.
Once you’ve found a date and time, you will have to register for an account in order to purchase the tickets. You’ll need a mobile phone number for your username. When you complete the purchase, ticket vouchers will be sent by email. The ticket vouchers will need to be printed or accessible on your mobile phone.
When you arrive at the tower, follow the signs for pre-purchased tickets. Show the attendant the paper or mobile ticket bar code and you will be admitted to the tower.
As of November 1, the prices to visit the tower have increased significantly, although they are still lower than the cost of visiting some tall structures in the US. An adult ticket to the top of the tower costs 25€, a ticket to the second floor via the elevator is 17€, and a ticket for climbing the stairs to the second level is 10€.
The price increases will fund renovations to the structure, including painting, cleaning, and updating the second floor. Upgrading security around the popular tower and making access lines more efficient will also be addressed. Improvements are being made due to recent terrorist acts in Paris and to prepare for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower is a”must-see” for visitors to Paris, even with the increase in prices. Schedule at least two hours for your visit in able to see all the tower has to offer.
Do you have any unusual stories about your visit to the tower? I’d love to hear them! Have you eaten at the Jules Verne restaurant? Was it worth the cost? I’m anxious to know more about it.