19 years ago, Frans proposed to me under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. We also rode the elevator to the top of the tower back then but, based on my frame of mind at the time, I couldn’t remember it at all. So, on our last visit to Paris, we decided to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower again and, this time, with our daughter.
Much has changed in the almost two decades since our last visit, though. Visitors used to be able to walk right up to the area below the Eiffel Tower. Now that is all blocked off and you have to go through one security checkpoint to get in and another before ascending the tower. There are also notices everywhere to beware of pickpockets. That means you should keep your valuables close to you and, if you don’t have a bag, put your phone and wallet in the FRONT pockets of your pants. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no selfie sticks. 🙂
Going Up the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France — Ticket Prices & Stairs vs Elevators
You can reach the Eiffel Tower by foot or by public transportation. I recommend taking the Metro to the Trocadero to get some nice overview photos of the tower first. To go up the Eiffel Tower, you need to buy tickets. Prices vary greatly depending on whether you want to take the stairs, the elevators, or a combination of the two. (FYI, elevators are called “lifts” on the signs there.) The first and second floors can be reached via stairs or elevator. However, from there, the top of the Eiffel Tower is only accessible via elevator. There are reduced ticket prices for Youth (ages 12-24) and Children (aged 4-11) or disabled. Little ones under the age of 4 are free.
- Stairs to the 2nd floor (can only be purchased on-site)
Adult: €10, Youth: €5, Child: €2
- Stairs to the 2nd floor + Elevator to the top (can only be purchased on-site)
Adult: €19, Youth: €9, Child: €4
- Elevator to the 2nd floor
Adult: €16, Youth: €8, Child: €4
- Elevator to the top
Adult: €25, Youth: €12, Child: €6
It gets REALLY busy as the day goes on, especially during peak travel seasons like summer. The Eiffel Tower is, after all, one of the main attractions in Paris. To avoid the long lines, it’s best to buy tickets for the elevators (either to the 2nd floor or to the top) online. These are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged.
Before completing your order, be 100% sure you can go the day your ticket is valid and that the weather will cooperate. Buying tickets online allows you to “skip the line” at the ticket booth in a sense. But, you still have to wait in line for the security check, to board the elevator to the 1st and 2nd floor, to board the next elevator to the top floor, and then again if you want to take the elevator back down.
You can buy elevator tickets online up to 60 days in advance but do they do sell out. Tickets were already sold out about 4 days in advance of when we were planning to go. So, we bought our tickets at the on-site ticket booths below the Eiffel Tower. I recommend getting in line before or right after the booths open.
We arrived about a half hour after opening and the lines were actually pretty short. If you plan on taking the stairs at all, either to the second floor or in combination with the elevator to the top, you have to get them at the ticket booths. Tickets for the stairs are not sold online. Period. Make sure you get in the lines specifically marked for stairs since those are usually shorter.
Just so you know, for most people in good health, walking up the first two flights of stairs are doable. However, I’m sure the majority regret their decision as they near the top of the second floor. We took the elevator up but walked down the lower two levels.
Every.single.person that passed us on their way up was out of breath and complaining of muscle pain. They all looked miserable and the people ranged in age, size, and gender. When you add that cardio to the miles and miles of walking you’ll do throughout Paris, even if you take the Metro, your legs and feet are going to hate you. If you’re traveling on a budget or are super confident in your quads, knees, and calves, then you are welcome to take the stairs. As for us, we skipped a fancy French meal at the tower to take the elevator all the way to the top. 😛
Going Up the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France — Floor by Floor
So what is on each floor? Let’s start with the top of the Eiffel Tower since that’s the “bucket list” spot. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can get a 360 deg view of Paris, visit the champagne bar, compare panoramic maps, and peek into a historical scene with wax figures. We spent most of our time here to take in the view. Fortunately, it was a pretty clear day and we could see most of the city’s major landmarks. It does get windy on this level so keep a light sweater or jacket with you.
The second floor has an upscale restaurant, gift shop, macaroon store, and gorgeous views. If you don’t make it to the top, you won’t be disappointed with the view from this level. You might actually get clearer photos since you won’t have a fog or smog layer to block the landscape.
The first floor has glass walls, transparent floors, interactive exhibits, a fancy restaurant, casual bites, and a souvenir shop. I have to admit that we missed many of the exhibits and overlooked the cinema area altogether. By the time we descended to this level, we were tired and it was super busy. We just wanted to get some snacks and rest a little before going onto the next item on our Paris itinerary.
The Esplanade (ground level) has ticket booths and gift shops. After coming down the tower, we only spent a little time at the bottom since it’s really hard to get nice photos from directly below the tower.
When you think of Paris, France, you can’t help but visualize the Eiffel Tower. It’s unthinkable to visit the famous city without having visited and gone up the tower at least once. While it can get busy, it’s definitely worth the experience and the memory. Then, make sure you carve out extra time to enjoy what the first and second floors have to offer. So keep these few things in mind and enjoy your next visit to the City of Light!