The following morning my father and I went to the Eiffel Tower early to try and reach the top before it got too crowded. Even though I had seen the Moulin Rouge the day before, I still wasn’t really convinced that I was in Paris. Walking along the streets felt different than any other city I’d been to so far, but it still hadn’t really hit me that I was in Paris.

We came from the northwest side of the city and rounded the Palais de Chaillot, which provided a dramatic lead-up to the tower’s unveiling. It was only after I was standing in front of the tower that I truly felt like I was in Paris. It was an impressive view and a site I had never really imagined seeing in person. I’ve seen Paris in movies, read about it in books and seen it in pictures, but there’s nothing like actually standing in front of the Eiffel Tower to put in perspective how lucky I am.

The Eiffel Tower from the Palais de Chaillot. The sun was just rising, but already the entire place was covered in tourists!

Eiffel Tower from the Palais de Chaillot

Tower in the Morning

As we walked towards the Eiffel Tower, I couldn’t stop thinking, “I’m in Paris!”. It was really surreal and I almost couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Eiffel Tower Silhouet

The tower from below.

Under the Tower

We reached the tower and then frantically searched for the quickest way to the top. Maybe I’m spoiling the secret, although I feel like it’s really not that huge of a secret, but the Eiffel Tower can be climbed! That one or two-hour long line that you’re waiting in, well just go around the corner and it takes a minute to buy a ticket and start the climb. This is what we did and it was actually really nice. There was no line, the staircase has a number of informational posters and along the way you get to admire the incredible infrastructure of the tower. I can’t even imagine how Eiffel (the tower is named after its architect, he also built the Statue of Liberty) could conceive such a massive tower of steel.

Some fun facts about the Eiffel Tower. It was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1889. It was finished in only a little over 2 years and it reaches the height of 324 meters or 1,063 feet. There are 704 steps to the second floor.

Steel

Almost there!

Climbing Up

As far as I know no one is allowed to climb to the very top of the tower, but we were able to make it to the first and second levels. It really wasn’t that bad of a climb and once we reached the top we were able to snag some tickets to ride the final elevator to the summit.

The view from the summit looking out over Paris and the park, Champ de Mars.

Lookout

Paris from Above

The Sacred Heart Basilica, which we visited the other day.

Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

The L’hôtel des Invalides really stands out on the Paris skyline. It sparkles among all the short grey buildings.

L'hôtel des Invalides

The metro station in the vicinity of our apartment. The entrances to the stations are done in the Art Nouveau style, painted green with swirling arches and curves. It’s really beautiful, but sometimes makes it difficult to find the station entrances among the busy streets and buildings.

Metro

After visiting the Eiffel Tower we picked up my mother and sister at the apartment and then headed to the Arc de Triomphe. This arch is surrounded by the world’s largest roundabout. We witnessed a few daring (or stupid) people running across the roundabout, but there is of course a safer way in an underground tunnel.

The Arc was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to celebrate his victories, but it was not finished until 1836. The Germans and Allies took turns marching through this arch at different periods in time. First the Germans marched through in 1871, then the Allies in 1919. During World War II the Germans marched through the arch again in 1940 and at the end of the war in 1944 the Allies marched through.

Arc de Triomphe

Looking out over the tomb of an unknown soldier from WW I. The flame burns for the lives lost during WW I and WW II.

Eternal Flame

The ceiling of the arch.

Under the Arc

After touring the arch we turned towards the Avenue Des Champs-Élysées, which lines up perfectly with the tomb of the unknown soldier and the arch. This avenue is full of big-name stores, Christmas stalls, people and cars.

Champ Elysee

At the opposite end of the Champs-Élysées is the Place de la Concorde, one of the larger squares in Paris. Situated in the center of it is the Grande Roue de Paris, the ferris wheel, and the Luxor Obelisk. The Obelisk used to be at the Luxor Temple in Egypt, but was offered to France as a gift.

Grande Roue de Paris and Luxor Obelisk

One of the fountains on the Place de la Concorde.

Place de la Concorde

From the Concorde we headed towards the river Seine so that we could walk back towards the Eiffel Tower along the river. We crossed the Seine on the famous Pont Alexandre III bridge, which is decorated with a number of statues, some completely gold and also intricate lamps. The view of the Eiffel Tower from the bridge is beautiful.

Pont Alexandre III

As we headed back to our apartment the sun was beginning to set and the Eiffel Tower was lit.

Eiffel Tower at Night

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