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6 Days in France: Seeing the Eiffel Tower at its Best

There’s no better time to visit the Eiffel Tower than when you’re still numb with jet-lag. Even though I’ve saved mentioning the Eiffel Tower for the last segment of ‘6-Days in France’, we actually chose to show our visitors the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe on their very first day in Paris.

Most flights from the US arrive early in the morning. Therefore, if you want to visit the Eiffel Tower on your first day in town, it’s possible, but first, check into your hotel or hostel. Unfortunately many hostels don’t allow access to rooms until after 3 pm, but try to squeeze in a siesta in the afternoon. Then, head for the Eiffel Tower between 6 and 8 pm. During the summer months, the last rays of sun disappear between 10 pm and 10:30 pm which means you have plenty of time to take great photos from the top of the tower – and also avoid the crowds.

For years, we’ve been dragging friends to the Eiffel Tower at midday. The lines are interminable. The elevators are torture for anyone who gets claustrophobic in crowds. Once I realized that the Eiffel Tower stays open as late as midnight during the summer, it seemed like a no-brainer to queue up while the rest of the tourist world was sitting down to an early dinner.

It should go without saying that the Eiffel Tour is never so romantic as it is at twilight. Watching the sun set over Paris from this perspective makes you want to grab whoever is next to you and whisper sweet nothings. Hopefully, it’s someone you know!

Why did it take us so long to catch on to this simple bit of common sense – see Eiffel Tower at night, not during the day? It helps to have read Rick Steves. Yes, I’m a big Rick Steves fan. Sorry, if some more highbrow critics disagree – but sometimes the best travel guide advice, the most obvious advice, is still news for us creatures of habit.

Now that we’ve visited the Eiffel Tower at night – I’m a zealous convert. The only people who may have a better view are the lucky few who’ve rented that temporary hotel room Everland teetering on the top of the Museum of Modern Art.

From our perch on the Eiffel, we can track the Bateaux Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens with their huge strobe lights as they inch along the Seine River. If we look up to the Eiffel’s spire, we can catch the twinkling lights during their intermittent ten minute light shows.

Once you descend from the tower, be sure to stroll across to the Champs de Mars for photos of the Eiffel from the grassy fields. Then walk up toward Palais du Chaillot just beyond the Trocadero fountains to capture another aspect of the tower from the Palais du Chaillot esplanade. Finally, cross the Place Trocadero intersection over to Café Kleber for a late night meal, a café or a Kir Royale (champagne and cassis). You can hop into the Metro right in front of the café and catch the last train (12:30 pm).

Whether you choose to visit the Eiffel Tower on the first night of your stay in Paris – or the last night, no matter HOW CYNICAL YOU MAY BE about tourist attractions, I’m willing to wager that you will suddenly feel (even the most jaded of travelers) like you’ve just fallen in love.

Summer Hours
9 am until 12: 45 am (24:45)
The summer hours coincide with longer days i.e. mid-June (June 13 to August 31st). Keep in mind that the last elevator to the top level stops at 11 pm. The last elevator to the 2nd level stops at Midnight. The stairs are also closed at midnight.

Fall and winter hours starting September 1st: The Stairs close at 6 pm. The last elevator to the top level stops at 10 and the elevator to the 2nd level stops at 11 pm.

Here’s the breakdown of opening hours for fall/winter and summer hours:

From January 1 to June 12 9:30am to 11:45pm
Final lift up at 11:00pm
(10:30pm for top floor) 9:30am to 6:30pm
Final admittance 6:00pm
From June 13 to August 31 9:00am to 00:45am
Final lift up at midnight
(11:00pm for top floor) 9:00am to 00:45am
Final admittance midnight
From September 1 to December 31 9:30 am to 11:45 pm
Final lift up at
(10:30pm for top floor.) 9:30am to 6:30pm
Final admittance 6:00pm