When planning Mom’s trip to Paris, I asked “Do you want to visit the Eiffel Tower” and she said “No, my friends said it wasn’t worth it.” (who are these friends?). On our first day in Paris we met our Versailles tour at the Eiffel Tower and when we returned Mom said “I do want to visit the Eiffel Tower as it’s on my bucket list” – Seriously? Now it’s a bucket list item” After three months of questions when planning our trip to Paris, when Mom replied on a loop “I’ll do what you tell me”. So online I went in search of “Skip the Line” ticket to visit the Eiffel Tower for the next day (less than 24 hours!) on my Viator app. I was interested in the Evening tour with Champagne boat cruise on the Seine with City Wonders but it was sold out (plus it started late) so I had to go with a quick drive by kind of visit.
Eiffel Tower Tickets
If you are planning to visit the Eiffel Tower in advance (more than 16 hours notice I had) you can buy general admission tickets online at the official website but they sell out fast, like super-fast, so fast that I can never get them six months in advance fast! Upside is the cost of €11, downside is the waiting in the regular “have tickets” line. So the rest of us rely on tour groups visiting the Eiffel Tower. Upside is the skip the line using the group entrance, downside is the cost which is generally 3x higher than the normal tickets and a normal wait on the lifts.
The types of visits and ticket vary enormously so know what you want to do – you might get a guided tour of the 2nd floor, you might just get a guy who takes the group through security and up to the 2nd floor and provides no commentary – you’re on your own. You could add in a lunch or dinner at the restaurant onsite or add in a cruise from the dock. So many combinations, it gets confusing so make sure you are comparing tours and asking questions. In terms of tickets for me & Mom, I was in search of anything between 1 pm – 3 pm as I had planned our day out already and had to sneak this visit in before our Evening Louvre Tour.
Eiffel Tower Third Floor – I Paid to Go to the Top
Most likely someone in your group will say “but I paid to go to the top” and the guide will say what they say to every group, every day “the ticket is for the 2nd floor, if you want to go to the top you need to buy your ticket once inside and then take the elevator to the top”. There will be grumbling along the way.
In order to go to the top, which is small and has a champagne bar if you are so inclined, you need to queue up on the 2nd floor and buy another ticket. You then get on a separate elevator to the top. When my niece and I visited, we lucked out that the protesters had caused the Eiffel Tower to be evacuated so that when it reopened we were on the first elevator up to the 2nd floor. Our guide told us to board on the top of the lift so that we would arrive on the 2nd level of the 2nd floor. We then ran to the line for tickets to the top and were one of the first few to experience the top floor practically empty. This lasted only a few elevators before we were surrounded by the crowd.
The top has great views beyond the fencing however, the 2nd floor is still amazing with views of Paris.
Visit the Eiffel Tower with a Group
We met the tour guide with the tickets in the park next to the Eiffel Tower. Sadly due to increase security the lovely views from the park and the people who used to picnic are gone, replaced by perimeter fencing and layers of added security checks.
Our group was large, over forty people, divided into English and Spanish. We walked together to the group security entrance. Stepping up into the security trailers, our bags were searched and we had an initial security screen. Once done we exited and were under the Eiffel Tower looking up at the impressive structure. The group then proceeded to walk to the group entrance (only two lifts were open on the Wednesday afternoon in September). We had a further wait to go through airport style security (x-ray bags and metal detectors) before waiting in line for the lift to the 2nd floor.
The time from group meet, security checks and waiting for the lift was just over an hour.
Eiffel Tower Second Floor
Most visitors start their Eiffel Tower visit on the 2nd floor. The observation area is over two floors and gives you a good sense of place and views of Paris. I pointed out Sacre Coeur, La Defense, Arc de Triomphe and other highlights to Mom. After fifteen minutes or so, Mom was ready to go! All that stress finding tickets, taking the Uber from the hotel, waiting on the group and going through security for fifteen minutes of a visit. Mom did get to enjoy a slushee from the café while we waited on the lift (this may have been a highlight for her at the time). The second floor has a food stand, macaron stand, souvenir shop and a restroom.
Since we squeezed in the Eiffel Tower tour in between our Opera Tour and our Evening Highlights VIP Louvre tour we didn’t have time to visit and enjoy the 1st Floor which has a see through floor for the brave You can choose to walk inside the staircases from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor (Mom passed on that idea, I was considering it to work off the macarons).
As we bid adieu to the Eiffel Tower, we walked along the Seine to the metro station.
Visit the Eiffel Tower Final Thoughts
The Eiffel Tower is a dream for so many but while the structure hasn’t changed nor the views, it is a bit of work to arrange a visit that doesn’t take the fun out of it. The levels of security are a way of life now (sadly) and you need to be prepared with patience. So make sure you plan your visit to the Eiffel Tower with enough time to wait and enjoy the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors. Oh yeah, when your Mom (or traveling companion) says “I don’t want to visit the Eiffel Tower”, ignore them and buy the tickets now!