Our Practical Guide to the Eiffel Tower

Read our guide to navigating Paris’ most iconic monument.

Nothing says Paris like the Eiffel Tower. The star of the 1889 World’s Fair, this monument of engineering was the tallest man-made structure  for 40 years, reaching an incredible 1,063 feet (324 meters). Gustave Eiffel revolutionized bridge-building in the railroad era and applied the same wrought iron technology to build his iconic tower. Many Parisians famously opposed the monument, which was slated for demolition after 20 years. The Tower was saved by another invention: it served as a ready-made telegraph and radio antenna starting in 1898. Today it attracts around 7 million visitors a year and dazzles millions more.

Here are our travel-tested tips for making the most of your visit:

1. Getting There 

The Eiffel Tower is easily accessible on Paris’ public transportation at Bir Hakeim (metro line 6) and Champ des Mars – Eiffel Tower (RER line C). Bus lines 42, 69, 82, and 87 also run nearby.

The sign for visitors with reservation and e-tickets -- skip the line here!

The west (ouest) pillar entrance for visitors with e-tickets — skip the line here!

2. Going Up the Eiffel Tower

If ascending the Eiffel Tower is part of your perfect Paris vacation, planning ahead is key. We strongly recommend buying Eiffel Tower tickets online in advance, as they can book up several weeks, if not months, in advance. These timed-entry tickets allow you to skip the lines.

Be sure to be on time, as they have a strict no-refund policy. Either print out your ticket or show the bar code on your mobile device at the west pillar entrance (pictured to the right).

Last minute trip? No worries! Here are your options:

— Book a guided tour. Read more about booking a guided tour here.

— Make a lunch or dinner reservation at the 58 Tour Eiffel Brasserie (1st floor) or, for an even more upscale dining experience, dine at the chic Jules Verne Restaurant (2nd floor).

— Buy same-day elevator tickets on the spot at the Tower’s north, west, and east pillars. The south pillar sells reduced-rate, stairs-only tickets (photo below).

Make a reservation at Le Jules Verne Restaurant (on the 2nd floor) and begin your journey here. The line for same-day stairs tickets is on the left.

The south pillar entrance: make a reservation at Le Jules Verne Restaurant (on the 2nd floor) and begin your journey here. The line for same-day stairs tickets is on the left.

3. Ascend to the Summit

Champagne Bar Eiffel Tower

Champagne bar at the summit.

The Eiffel Tower has three floors: the first level, the second level, and the summit.

The pillar elevators and stairs take you to the first and second levels. To reach the very top of the Tower, from the second floor platform you will need to locate the separate elevator to the summit. If you only bought a ticket to the second level you can buy a summit-only ticket here.

Please note that the elevator ascent to the summit — the highest point — is not for the faint of heart! The Eiffel Tower is even today one of the tallest structures in France, and definitely the tallest in Paris. But what a view!

For a special treat visit the Champagne Bar at the summit, a takeaway stand and the highest point in the city to sip a glass of bubbly.

4. Extra Eiffel Tower Tips

Skip the elevator to the first and second levels: many kids (and adults) prefer taking the stairs. And at 704 steps to the second level, it will also earn you real bragging rights! (Note: access to the summit is by elevator only).

— Take advantage of the Tower’s complimentary “Follow Gus” activity booklet for kids, available in English and French. Pick one up on the first floor at the Ferrié pavilion or download it ahead of time from the Eiffel Tower’s official website here.

Have a picnic on the Champ de Mars in the shadow of the Tower. If you can, go at night: from sunset to 1:00 am, the Tower lights up for 5 minutes every hour on the hour.

— In Paris on July 14th? Celebrate Bastille Day with the extraordinary fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower.

5. Where to Eat

IN THE EIFFEL TOWER

58 Tour Eiffel Brasserie
1st Level, Tour Eiffel, Avenue Gustave Eiffel
+33 1 45 55 20 04

Located on the first level, 58 meters high, this brasserie serves high-quality dinner with a view. They also offer picnic-style lunches. A reservation here allows you to skip the line.

Jules Verne Restaurant
2nd Level, Tour Eiffel, Avenue Gustave Eiffel
+33 1 45 55 61 44

The only Eiffel Tower restaurant with a Michelin star and its own elevator (at the south pillar), Jules Verne offers high-end dining worth experiencing just for the food, let alone the view. You do usually have to reserve well in advance; some concierges may be able to arrange the reservation for you.

NEAR THE EIFFEL TOWER

Les Cocottes (does not take reservations)
135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007
+33 1 45 50 10 28

Popular among both visitors and locals, Christian Constant’s French bistro is famous for a reason. Enjoy simple, delectable food in a comfortable atmosphere within a close walk to the Eiffel Tower.

Chez L’Ami Jean (reservation strongly recommended)
27 Rue Malar, 75007
+33 1 47 05 86 89

Book lunch or dinner in advance at this perfect spot for a romantic evening. Chez L’Ami Jean offers authentic French cuisine in a fun atmosphere. Be prepared to make friends with your neighbors as the tables can be a bit cozy. Try the family-style rice pudding for dessert.

Eiffel Tower b&w