First-time visitors to the Eiffel Tower might be surprised to learn that there is far more to the Eiffel Tower than just clichéd photo opportunities and an astounding view of Paris from each of its levels (although these aren’t to be underestimated and are an essential part of your trip!). Each level of the Tower has something different to offer, from restaurants to exhibitions, video and and shops. Here we detail exactly what you can find at each level, so that if you’re squeezed for time or are particularly interested in finding out about one aspect of the structure you can design your itinerary accordingly.
The first floor of the Tower can often be missed by visitors taking the lifts, as these go straight to the second floor and only stop here on the way back down the structure. However, for those who are keen to learn more about the origins of the building the first floor is definitely the level to explore, with an exhibition called ‘The Eiffel Tower Epic’ transporting you back into the construction of the Tower and detailing its development since. The first level is the largest in size, and the organisers have made the most of this space by interweaving a fascinating collection of interactive games, videos, pictures, photographs and posters amid the walkways and staircases that make up this part of the Tower.
In the Ferrié wing you can marvel at over 300 different reproductions of the Tower, emphasising the enduring impact it has had upon numerous artists and architects. There is even a specially-designed tour for children aged between 6 and 10, where irrepressible cartoon Gus leads them through the history of the Tower and its creator in a way that is engaging and fun as well as educational.
You can also explore the Cineiffel room when on the first floor. This is a collection of virtual images of the Tower and its history, an exhibition room containing different artistic representations of the Tower and a cinema auditorium whose walls have film snippets recounting the Tower’s history projected onto them constantly. In addition to the displays harking back to the past, you can wander around the present structure and admire the original remaining staircases, as well as finding out more about the landmarks that can be seen from the viewing gallery via the descriptions underneath each viewing box. You can even measure the vibrations caused by the wind and temperature by visiting the working observatory!
When you’ve absorbed all the interesting information on offer, you can visit the restaurant on the first floor for an unrivalled view of the city with your meal. The novelist Guy de Maupassant was said to have eaten in the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower every day despite purporting to hate the structure, and when questioned replied that it was the only place in Paris where it couldn’t be seen! For the slightly less cynical amongst you the 58 Tour Eiffel offers delicious food in a truly unique atmosphere, or if you just want a quick snack there is also a buffet in the Ferrié wing where you can grab something to eat on the viewing gallery. There is also a function room available for conferences, seminars, press events or any other event you want.
Split into two sections, the second floor operates as the main viewing gallery on the Eiffel Tower and is your best bet for getting some fantastic photos of the Parisian landscape, from the majestic Sacre-Coeur on the hill of Montmatre to the ribbon of the Seine winding across the city. There are lots of telescopes that you can pay to use for a closer look at different aspects of the city, and the story windows on the inner core of the level explain how the old and new lifts worked to transport visitors to the top of the Tower. You can see the machinations of the current lifts for yourself here, highlighted by the huge yellow and red wheels that haul the lifts between the various floors of the Tower, and the ticket booth and lifts to the top floor can be found on this level. A glass viewing platform also provides a dizzying look down at the ground from this level that is both vertigo-inducing and a unique angle!
Aside from the views, there is a souvenir shop and a buffet area from which to purchase food like waffles, pizza and coffee, which you can either eat indoors or outside on the viewing platform. For a truly extravagant and unforgettable dining experience, you can book a table at the Jules Verne restaurant situated on the second level which offers excellent (and expensive!) French cuisine in a designer atmosphere with the best views of Paris in the city.
If you’re brave enough to cram into the glass-sided lifts that transport you to the top floor, you can admire Paris from the highest accessible point in the city and experience some amazing views of its iconic architecture. The lift deposits you in a covered level from which you can see the city through windows, with panoramic maps above the viewing spaces telling you the distance to other major cities. However climb a narrow staircase to the very top level and prepare to be buffeted by the winds at the top of the Eiffel Tower as you look through the latticework to the city below. You can even feel the Tower moving if you stand very still!
There is a small exhibition at the top of the tower that recreates Gustave Eiffel’s office, complete with waxwork figures of him and his daughter and the gramophone presented to Eiffel by fellow engineer Thomas Edison. Additionally, if you want to live up to Paris’ romantic reputation there is a champagne bar on the top level so that you can enjoy a glass of fizz overlooking the world’s most romantic city.