The Eiffel Tower, or Tour Eiffel, is an iron tower in the center of Paris that has become an icon of Paris as well as France. It is one of the most recognizable structures in the world.
The Eiffel Tower is located on the Champs de Mars beside the River Seine in Paris. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris. It has been visited by more than 200,000,000 people since its construction in 1889. In 2006 alone, 6,719,200 visited the tower, making it the most visited paid monument in the world.
Eiffel Tower stands at a height of 324 m (1,063 ft) high (since 2000), including the 24 m (79 ft) antenna. This is equivalent to the height of a 81 storey conventional building. It was the world’s tallest tower When it was completed in 1889, and it retained that title until 1930, when it was surpassed by New York City’s Chrysler Building (319 m / 1,047 ft tall). When I wrote this, the Eiffel Tower was the fifth-tallest structure in France (I was informed that it has slipped to 8th position since then) and the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse (210 m / 689 ft).
Location Quai Branly, Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris
Opening Hours: 9:00 am – midnight daily mid-Jun to end Aug; 9:30 am – 11:00 rest of year; last entry 30 min before closing.
Metro Station: Bir-Hakeim
Bus: Nos. 42, 69, 82, 87
Train Station: RER Line C, Champ de Mars – Eiffel Tower Station
For the latest entrance prices, please refer to the tower’s official website.
Altitude 95 at Level 1
Jules Verne at Level 2
Snack bars on ground floor, Levels 1 & 2
Gift shops at Levels 1 & 2, wheelchair access to Levels 1 & 2, Post Office at Level 1
Musée du Quai Branly
Parc du Champ de Mars
Palais du Chaillot
Musée d’Art Moderne de las Ville de Paris
Details about Eiffel Tower
The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes while the entire structure including non-metal components is approximately 10,000 tonnes. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7 in) because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6-7 cm (2-3 in) in the wind. As demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7300 tonnes of the metal structure were melted down it would fill the 125 meter square base to a depth of only 6 cm (2.36 in), assuming a density of the metal to be 7.8 tonnes per cubic meter. The tower has a mass less than the mass of the air contained in a cylinder of the same dimensions, that is 324 meters high and 88.3 meters in radius. The weight of the tower is 10,100 tonnes compared to 10,265 tonnes of air.
The first and second levels are accessible by stairways and lifts. A ticket booth at the south tower base sells tickets to access the stairs which begin at that location. At the first platform the stairs continue up from the east tower and the third level summit is only accessible by lift. From the first or second platform the stairs are open for anyone to ascend or descend regardless of whether they have purchased a lift ticket or stair ticket.
The actual count of stairs includes 9 steps to the ticket booth at the base, 328 steps to the first level, 340 steps to the second level and 18 steps to the lift platform on the second level. When exiting the lift at the third level there are 15 more steps to ascend to the upper observation platform. The step count is printed periodically on the side of the stairs to give an indication of progress of ascent. The majority of the ascent allows for an unhindered view of the area directly beneath and around the tower although some short stretches of the stairway are enclosed.
Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. In order to maintain a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground, three separate colors of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-grey. On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the colour to use for a future session of painting. The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower are Emile Nouguier, Maurice Koechlin and Stephen Sauvestre.
History of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World’s Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Gustave Eiffel had originally planned to build it in Barcelona for the Universal Exposition of 1888. However the Barcelona City Hall regarded it as a strange and expensive structure not fitting the design of the city. After being refused by Barcelona, Eiffel submitted his draft to the Universal Exhibition in Paris. He started build his tower a year later, in 1889.
Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, there was only one fatality during construction. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May.
The Eiffel Tower was initially met with much criticism from the Paris public, with many calling it an eyesore. Newspapers of the day were filled with angry letters from the arts community of Paris. Novelist Guy de Maupassant – who claimed to hate the tower – supposedly ate lunch in the Tower’s restaurant every day. When asked why, he said that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure.
Despite the negative reception, the Tower is today widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art. Most Hollywood movies in Paris always include a view from a Parisian window with the tower in sight. In reality, due to zoning restrictions on height of buildings in Paris to be no more than 7 stories, very few tall buildings actually have a clear view of the tower.
Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years, meaning it would have had to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiration of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne, and it therefore became a victory statue of that battle.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the tower has been used for radio transmission. Until the 1950s, an occasionally modified set of antenna wires ran from the summit to anchors on the Avenue de Suffren and Champ de Mars. They were connected to long-wave transmitters in small bunkers; in 1909, a permanent underground radio centre was built near the south pillar and still exists today. On 20 November 1913, the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower as an antenna, exchanged sustained wireless signals with the United States Naval Observatory which used an antenna in Arlington, Virginia. The object of the transmissions was to measure the difference in longitude between Paris and Washington, D.C.
Going Up the Tower
The original lifts to the first and second floors were provided by two companies. Both companies had to overcome many technical obstacles as neither company (or indeed any company) had experience with installing lifts climbing to such heights with large loads. The slanting tracks with changing angles further complicated the problems. The East and West lifts were supplied by the French company Roux Combaluzier Lepape, using hydraulically powered chains and rollers. Contemporary engravings of the lift cars show that the passengers were seated at this time but it is not clear whether this was conceptual.
It would be unnecessary to seat passengers for a journey time of around a couple of minutes. The North and South lifts were provided by the American Otis company using car designs similar to the original installation but using an improved hydraulic and cable scheme. The French lifts had a very poor performance and were replaced with the current installations in 1897 (West Pillar) and 1899 (East Pillar) by Fives-Lille using an improved hydraulic and rope scheme. Both of the original installations operated broadly on the principle of the Fives-Lille lifts.
The Fives-Lille lifts were completely upgraded in 1986 to meet modern safety requirements and to make the lifts easier to operate. A new computer controlled system was installed which completely automated the operation. One of the three counterbalances was taken out of use, and the cars were replaced with a more modern and lighter structure. Most importantly, the main driving force was removed from the original water pump such that the water hydraulic system provided only a counterbalancing function. The main driving force was transferred to a 320 kW electrically driven oil hydraulic pump which drives a pair of hydraulic motors on the chariot itself thus providing the motive power. The new lift cars complete with their carriage and a full 92 passenger load weigh 22 tonnes.
Due to elasticity in the ropes and the time taken to get the cars level with the landings, each lift in normal service takes an average of 8 minutes and 50 seconds to do the round trip spending an average of 1 minute and 15 seconds at each floor. The average journey time between floors is just 1 minute.
The original lift from the second to the third floor were also of a water powered hydraulic design supplied by Léon Edoux. Instead of using a separate counterbalance, the two lift cars counterbalanced each other. A pair of 81 metre long hydraulic rams were mounted on the second level reaching nearly half way up to the third level. A lift car was mounted on top of the rams. Ropes ran from the top of this car up to a sheave on the third level and back down to a second car. The result of this arrangement was that each car only travelled half the distance between the second and third levels and passengers were required to change lifts halfway walking between the cars along a narrow gangway with a very impressive and relatively unobstructed downward view. The 10 tonne cars held 65 passengers each or up to 4 tonnes.
One interesting feature of the original installation was that the hoisting rope ran through guides to retain it on windy days to prevent it flapping and becoming damaged. The guides were mechanically moved out of the way of the ascending car by the movement of the car itself. In spite of some antifreeze being added to the water that operated this system, it nevertheless had to close to the public from November to March each year.
The original lifts complete with their hydraulic mechanism were completely scrapped in 1982 after 97 years of service. They were replaced with two pairs of relatively standard rope hoisted cars which were able to operate all the year round. The cars operate in pairs with one providing the counterbalance for the other.
Neither car can move unless both sets of doors are closed and both operators have given a start command. The commands from the cars to the hoising mechanism are by radio obviating the necessity of a control cable. The replacement installation also has the advantage that the ascent can be made without changing cars and has reduced the ascent time from 8 minutes (including change) to 1 minute and 40 seconds.
This installation also has guides for the hoisting ropes but they are electrically operated. The guide once it has moved out of the way as the car ascends automatically reverses when the car has passed to prevent the mechanism becoming snagged on the car on the downward journey in the event it has failed to completely clear the car. Unfortunately these lifts do not have the capacity to move as many people as the 3 public lower lifts and long queues to ascend to the third level are common. Most of the intermediate level structure present on the tower today was installed when the lifts were replaced and allows maintenance workers to take the lift half way.
The replacement of these lifts allowed the restructuring of the criss-cross beams in upper part of the tower and further allowed the installation of two emergency staircases. These replaced the dangerous winding stairs that were installed when the tower was constructed.
Eiffel Tower Restaurants
The tower has two restaurants: Altitude 95, on the first floor (95 m, 311 ft, above sea level); and Jules Verne, an expensive gastronomical restaurant on the second floor, with a private lift. This restaurant has one star in the Michelin Red Guide. In January 2007, a new multi-Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse was brought in to run Jules Verne.
Staying in Paris
If you are planning to stay, here are some apartments in Paris to rent that are close by all the major attractions. Many of the points of interest in Paris are available with stylish apartments close by. Experience the true side of Paris by having the Parisian life.