My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.
The Icon of Paris
The Eiffel Tower sometimes referred to as The Iron Lady, is a must-see in Paris. How can you visit the city without spending time at this iconic landmark? You, can't! Even if you lack time in your schedule to actually go up into the tower, don't worry because you can view the tower from most places in the city.
It seems to hover in the background, almost like an elusive stalker. No matter where I was in Paris, it seemed like the tower was only a few blocks away even if that wasn't the case. I believe that because the structure is so massive, it feels like it's hovering in the skyline. It seems to beckon everyone to its splendor!
On my first day in Paris, I spent my time getting my bearings. The next—my first full day—was spent at the Eiffel Tower. After my tower visit, the ultimate tourist excursion was a dinner cruise on the Seine River. It was the perfect plan!
As I chronicle my adventures in this fabulous city, I didn't want to come up with "just another story about the Eiffel Tower." So, I ask you to settle in and enjoy my personal spin on the story of this landmark, full of fun facts and a virtual tour.
Little Known Facts About The Eiffel Tower
- The tower was an engineering feat of its time, taking only two years, two months, and five days to build! Marking a construction record, I'm betting it still holds a spot among the fastest constructed iconic landmarks.
- The tower was built using a pre-fab system. The pieces were fabricated at a factory located in Levallois-Perret, on the outskirts of Paris. Then the pieces were transported to the current location for final assembly. On-site assembly required about 225 people.
- Consisting of 18,000 pieces, each section was calculated for accuracy to a tenth of a millimeter! At the time of assembly, the final adjustments were made to each 5-meter section.
- The Eiffel Tower comes in at a hefty weight of 10,100 tons which includes 7,800 tons of metal! To put that in perspective, this would be roughly equivalent to 224.4 passenger jets—including the cargo and a full roster of passengers!
- To hold The Iron Lady together, there are 2,500,000 rivets. This is surpassed only by the Titanic, which had 3,000,000.
Aesthetics and Other Fun Facts
- Every seven years The Eiffel Tower undergoes renovation. Each time takes about three years to complete and includes using 16 million gallons of paint. It takes roughly 570 gallons of paint to paint the exterior of the White House. Simple math tells us the White House could be painted about 28,000 times per renovation of The Eiffel Tower! Over the 130 years, the Tower has been painted 20 times and with each renovation, a different color (actually a variation of the same color; brownish-gold) is used. The tower is currently undergoing renovation in honor of the upcoming 2024 Olympics which will be held in Paris. The color chosen this time is gold. Are the French trying to tell us the color of the medals they intend for their athlete to win?
- Many of us know The Eiffel Tower was built as part of the 1889 Worlds Fair exhibition in Paris. But, did you know that it was never meant to be a permanent landmark? It was originally meant to be taken down 20 years after being built.
- By 1948, the Parisians were terrified the structure would collapse and wipe out their city. Can you imagine the death and devastation that could cause? In order to gain confidence from the people, the city government orchestrated an event which included an elephant walking the steps to the first floor!
- On the hour and beginning at sunset, The Eiffel Tower's 20,000 lights begin twinkling for a full 5 minutes. When I noticed this event, it felt like a spectacular special "Hello" meant just for me!
Experiencing the Spectacular Landmark
Security is normally very high at The Eiffel Tower, but as the Olympics approach, it's even tighter. Allow yourself about an hour to an hour-and-a-half to get from the initial security checkpoint (there are three) to the elevator which takes you to the second floor! This seemingly endless entry process still happened even with "skip the line" tickets.
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The elevator pauses but does not open on the first floor. Because of the angle of the tower, the elevator actually makes an adjustment in its angle during this momentary pause. The adjustment felt like a horizontal shift and was surprisingly quite smooth.
The second floor is 115 meters high, with the Summit being 276 meters. There are 1665 steps to the summit and yes, some people actually walk it! My ticket included access to the summit, however, I opted out of this opportunity. The elevator from the second floor to the summit only holds three people at a time. The line was at least 100 people deep. The views from the second floor were amazing and it didn't seem like it would be considerably better from the Summit.
Of course, there is a gift shop on the second floor, but there is also a snack bar and full-service restaurant. It's somewhat of a "rite of passage" to order a glass of champagne and toast to life and dreams at this viewing point!
Dinner Cruise on the Seine River
Visiting The Eiffel Tower was a fantastic adventure and a dream come true, but my day wasn't over. Located on the bank of the Seine, it was just a short walk to board the Sunset Dinner River Cruise. Feeling like a Parisian, I had time for a cup of coffee at a cafe on the banks of the river before the cruise. Was I dreaming, in heaven, or really just in Paris?
I thought the idea of a dinner cruise was kind of cheesy but my travel companion really wanted to do this excursion. Oh my gosh, am I so glad I went along! For one price (about 30 Euro each), the cruise, pre-dinner Bellinis, a 5-course meal, and a bottle of wine per table were included! The servers acted as tour guides making sure they pointed out the landmarks as we passed by. We passed the Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre Museum, The Eiffel Tower, and many other important sites.
Our server noted there are 37 bridges crossing the river and also pointed out the tunnel where Princess Diana perished in the horrific car accident.
The food and drink were fantastic, unlike you would expect at a "touristy event." It was a great way to end the evening!
Reflecting on the day during the walk back to the hotel, I found myself wondering if Paris and specifically The Eiffel Tower, met my expectations. Sometimes, when you hope and dream of something and finally have the experience, it falls short. This was not the case for me! Indeed there were some things I'd experienced that were not found in the dream, like the crowds and hustle-bustle. But as I walked that evening, I realized that part of my little girl's dream was unrealistic.
Paris is a city where people live and work, it's not just a romantic fairytale land made for lovers and artists. There are 20 arrondissements in Paris, each unique in its own way. The city is a plethora of the old blending with the new. We still had several days left on our Parisian adventure and I was left wondering if the upcoming days could come close to matching our first full day!
Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is to Live!"
© 2022 Dee Serkin