Saturday, 18 May 2013

Paris: Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides and the Arc de Triomphe


The Eiffel Tower

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower, the quintessential symbol of Paris, was supposed to be built in Barcelona? It was rejected by the Spanish government because of the huge cost it would take to build it. Luckily the French saved the day and had the tower built at the Champs de Mars area. But even then during the tower's construction for the World's Fair in 1889, it was met with protests and was even called a "monstrosity" and a colossal waste of money and space. The tower was not even meant to be a permanent structure. 

And the rest as they say is history....


Eh, voila!
Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower was also involved in the steel structures of the Statue of Liberty and Manila's San Sebastian Church, the only all-steel church in Asia.  

A visit to Paris is not complete without seeing the stunning Eiffel Tower. The big K and I just have to see her every time we come for a visit to the City of Light. And yes, we always end up taking tons of pictures of the beautiful lady. Good thing we have digital cameras nowadays. Just imagine the small fortune we have to spend if we still had rolls of film instead of memory sticks.

The elevator ride to the top made my knees weak when I looked below. Definitely not for people afraid of heights.
View of the Trocadero from the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower. If you want to get those great iconic photos of the tower, head on to the Trocadero.
Champs de Mars at the back of the Eiffel Tower. The tall black building up ahead is the office skyscraper, Tour Montparnasse.
View of the Dome of Les Invalides where you find the the tomb of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Entrance to La Tour Eiffel is not included in the Paris Museum pass. To climb the towers there is a fee ranging from EUR5,00 to EUR14,50. This is a very popular landmark as you can imagine. It is not surprising to wait in line for 2 hours, sometimes more. If you have a definite time and date to visit the tower, you may want to buy your tickets online using their online reservation system. No guarantee though that you will be spending a shorter amount of time in the queue since you will still have to go through security.

If you want to totally skip the lines, although a more expensive option, is to book a table at the one-starred Michelin restaurant, The Jules Verne. Located at the tower’s second level, the restaurant has their own elevator access.

Nearest metro: Trocadero (6 and 9)
RER C: Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel 


Les Invalides 

If you’re interested in anything military then this is the place for you. Les Invalides is a complex of buildings housing monuments and museums dedicated to the French military. Open daily this museum is included in the museum pass. Entry fee without the pass is EUR9,50.

Entrance to the Musée de l'Armée at Les Invalides.

Inner courtyard of the Army Museum. 
Tomb of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte under the dome of Les Invalides.

Nearest metro: Invalides (8, 13); La Tour-Mauborg (8); Varenne (13)
RER C: Invalides  

Pont Alexandre III 


The most ornate bridge in Paris, it spans the river Seine and connects the Champs-Élysées area with that of Les Invalides and the Eiffel tower.


The bridge has Art Nouveau lamps and cherubs decorating it. Winged horses on pylons are placed on each end of the bridge.


Avenue des Champs-Élysées

One of Paris' more famous streets, Avenue des Champs-Élysées is lined with luxury shops, cafés and restaurants. The car dealerships of Fiat, Peugeot, Renault and Mercedes-Benz are also located here.
Can you spell macarons? World famous macaron maker Ladurée has a shop  at the Champs-Élysées.
Need I say more? 

Arc du Triomphe


At the top of the Arc de Triomphe you get great views of the 12 avenues (including Champs-Élysées) built by Hausmann when he renovated the city of Paris.
The Eiffel tower as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is included in the museum pass and has a special entryway for pass holders. Open daily. Entry without the pass is EUR8,00

Nearest metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (1, 2, 6)
RER A: Charles de Gaulle Etoile


Helpful links:

Eiffel Tower website 

Musée de l'Armée website

Arc de Triomphe

The Jules Verne restaurant website


Next post: Latin Quarter and the Saint-Germain areas