There are as many ways of seeing the Eiffel Tower as there are people to see it, with the latticed iron structure having been interpreted as a symbol of artistic and technical genius by some and an eyesore by others since its erection in 1899. However you view it, it is certain that the Eiffel Tower has become as much a part of Paris as wonky, charming streets and rude French people, and as such our appetite to visit and find out more about the Tower can only grow and grow. You can uncover everything you need to know about the Eiffel Tower in our Facts and Figures folder below, with different chapters for each aspect of the Tower. The History section explains the motivations behind its construction as well as the cost and its reception; Essential Facts details all the necessary information prospective visitors need including opening times, security restrictions and the number of steps; and Figures runs through all the basic statistics of the Eiffel Tower including height, number of visitors and world records. If there’s anything that you’d like to know that you don’t think we’ve covered here, leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page and we will endeavour to find an answer for you and add it to the folder.
The Eiffel Tower was built in 1899 as a temporary structure for the 1899 Exposition Universelle, designed to commemorate the passing of 100 years since the French Revolution and to celebrate the achievements of industrial innovation. Upon completion there was no intimation of how the striking addition to the skyline would become the most enduring symbol of Paris and of French culture; in fact, a number of the Parisian intellectual and artistic elite were fiercely opposed to the construction of the Tower, seeing it as a grimy blot upon the idyllic Parisian landscape and detesting the associations with undignified and inartistic machinery and industrial labour. Nonetheless, the majority recognised the tremendous technical skill required to realise such a groundbreaking structure and the Eiffel Tower became a metaphor for the heights of French engineering and industrial progress, revered across the city.
The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel, a French engineer who poured his heart and soul into creating a new symbol for French technical innovation and who is present in the current structure in numerous ways aside from in name, with an exhibition on the top floor that recreates the office in which he planned out his ambitious design. Eiffel was assisted in the design and building of the Tower by two engineers called Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier as well as the architect Stephen Sauvestre, and over 300 workers toiled to bring the plans to life. After the original conception, design and building of the Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel was critical in maintaining it past its original agreed lifespan of 20 years; he encouraged scientific experiments with particular relation to meteorology and telecommunications. The use of the Tower for broadcasting radio and later television transmissions was to prove a vital point in cementing the position of the structure permanently.
It is believed that the original cost of the Eiffel Tower in 1889 was around 8 million francs, equating to roughly £35million in today’s money! Gustave Eiffel agreed to cover 80% of the costs prior to construction; fortunately for his bank balance, the public demand to climb the Tower was so great that he recouped his investment and beyond within the first year of its opening.
The Eiffel Tower was completed in a total time of 2 years, 2 months and 5 days. Considering the scale of the project and the fact that it was built in the late 19th century without some of the tools that are available today, this was a remarkable achievement and further served to underline the technical prowess and industrial strength of French architectural innovation.
What are the opening times?
The Eiffel Tower is open every day of the year, so whatever time of year you choose to visit Paris you will be able to climb its most famous landmark. However what does change is the opening hours, which vary depending on the month that you decide to visit. For the majority of the year, the Tower is open from 9.30am until 11.45pm when you use the lift (with the last lift to the top at 10.30pm), and from 9.30am until 6.30pm for those taking the stairs. The last admission is at 11pm and 6pm respectively. However, during the peak tourist season the Eiffel Tower operates under extended opening hours to better accommodate the increased number of visitors. Therefore from the 17th June until the 28th August the monument is open from 9am until 12.45am via both the stairs and the lift, with last admission at midnight and the last lift for the top deck departing at 11pm. During the Easter weekend and the spring holidays the Tower is also open until midnight.
If you are travelling as part of a large group, the admissions times are slightly different; the last entry for groups is 10pm for the first and second floors and 9.30pm for the top deck.
When do the lights switch on, and how long are they on for?
The Eiffel Tower is lit up after sunset every day, and remains illuminated until 1am in the morning (or 2am in the summer months). There is also a light show that makes the Tower appear to glitter and sparkle all over, appearing every hour on the hour after nightfall for approximately 5 minutes. The beacon at the very top of the Tower stays shining throughout the night. The sight of the Eiffel Tower at night is truly stunning and a must-see for any visitor to Paris – if you disembark from the Métro at Trocadéro you can get a fanastic sweeping view of the tower all lit up, for the perfect photo opportunity!
Can you climb to the very top deck, or is there a lift to the top?
The stairs for the Eiffel Tower only reach as far as the second floor and there is a choice of climbing the stairs or taking the lift to get to this point. There are a colossal 704 steps to reach the second floor, meaning that it is no mean feat for those who are a little out of shape but will leave you with a sense of accomplishment! To reach the summit of the Tower you must take a lift from the second floor, which attracts queues during busy periods. There are 4 lifts that offer an incredible panorama across the city as you ascend, due to their glass sides.
Where are the toilets?
There are toilets on each level of the Tower. On the ground floor they can be found in the east corner, on the first floor they are in the Pavillon Ferrié, the second floor has facilities in the north corner and they can be found in the south corner of the summit.
How difficult is it to climb to each level, and how long does it take?
You can take the stairs for the first two levels, but the final floor can only be reached by lift. There are 704 steps to the second floor and how long it takes depends entirely on you, as there is no time limit to how long you spend at the monument and you can take it at your own pace. Generally you can expect to spend anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes climbing to the second floor. The stairs are not difficult to navigate and should be easily managed by most, although if you have trouble walking then it is recommended that you take the lift!
Are there any age restrictions or security restrictions?
It is possible that your bags may be searched by the security at the Eiffel Tower before you will be permitted to ascend it, and no large baggage is allowed on the Tower. There are no storage lockers for excess luggage and animals are also banned from the Tower, with the exception of guide dogs. There is no age restriction to visit the Tower – children under 4 go free, and there are discounted tickets available for children aged between 4 and 11 or 12 and 24. However only fold-up pushchairs are allowed on the structure due to safety reasons and there is nowhere to store pushchairs at the Tower.
How tall is the Eiffel Tower?
The Eiffel Tower stands at an impressive 324 metres high with its antennas, and when it was constructed in the late 19th century for the Exposition Universelle (or World Fair for those not up to scratch with their French!) it was the tallest structure in the world! This record was eventually surpassed in 1930 with the erection of New York’s Chrysler Building, and although the addition of the antenna to the top of the Tower since means that the Eiffel Tower has overtaken its American rival, it is no longer the tallest man-made building on Earth; since 2010 this record belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
How many visitors does the Eiffel Tower receive each year?
On average the Tower receives around 7 million visitors a year, of which 75% are foreign, making it one of the world’s most visited landmarks. Surprisingly however, the Eiffel Tower is not the most visited landmark in Paris; in a list compiled by Forbes Traveler Magazine in 2007, the Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, Disneyland Paris and Notre-Dame all received more visitors, although you perhaps wouldn’t suspect it from the lines at the base of the Tower…nonetheless, since its opening in 1899 the Eiffel Tower has seen more than an incredible 250 million visitors climb its levels.
How many levels and lifts are there on the Eiffel Tower?
The Eiffel Tower is split into three levels, all of which can be accessed by visitors to the structure. The first level stands at 57m high and the second level is 115m high, and both can be reached either by lift or by climbing 704 steps. The top floor of the tower peaks at 276m, and can only be reached by buying a separate ticket for the lift, although the views from the top are unrivalled in the city. There are 9 lifts in total; 5 from the base to the first two floors, and 4 from the second to the top level.