It’s hard to imagine the Paris skyline without its iconic, sky-piercing, A-shaped tower, which turns 126 today. But when the Eiffel Tower was first built, it had many critics who deplored its industrial look as an eyesore that ruined the city’s otherwise elegant profile. The artists of Paris were among the most vocal detractors: writer Guy de Maupassant was famously quoted as saying he ate lunch in the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant every day, only because it was the only place in Paris where he didn’t have to actually look at the tower. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, join our Seine River Cruise: Paris & the Highlights of Normandy.
While in Paris your river ship will dock within sight of the iconic tower, so take the opportunity to admire the monument up close. Far more than a metal viewing scaffold, the Eiffel Tower is an historic attraction with multiple restaurants, a shop, panoramic maps, interactive museum displays, and Gustave Eiffel’s original office. The first floor recently underwent a two-year renovation and now boasts a transparent floor and glass balustrades, where you can experience the unique sensation of stepping into the void. The Tower has also gone green, with LED lighting, solar panels, a rainwater collection system, and (coming soon) two wind turbines to generate 10,000 kWh a year.
You can take the lifts to the top, or climb the stairs. Upon arrival at the pinnacle, you will of course be rewarded with spectacular views, but can also toast the City of Light with a glass of bubbly from the Eiffel Tower’s champagne bar.
Built originally as the entrance gate for the 1889 Exposition Universelle World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower was never meant to be a permanent structure. But when its lease expired in 1909, city officials recognized its radio communications value. Today, its value transcends the airwaves, as a symbol of everything we love about Paris.