Le Tour Eiffel

Here is a list of things that were initially hated, and then ended up being loved:

  • Moby Dick
  • Paul’s Boutique (the magnum opus of the Beastie Boys, in case you were wondering)
  • The Eiffel Tower
  • (The Knicks’ pick of Kristaps Porzingis?)

(If you haven’t already figured it out, this is being written by Husband.)

Yes, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel’s 1889 symbol of the Paris World’s Fair was initially criticized by Parisians – in particular, the creative community, who started what was known as the “Artists’ Protest.”  In fact, here’s a quote from a petition that was published in the French magazine Le Temps in 1887:

We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.

(Ironically, now, Parisian artists make most of their money from painting the Eiffel Tower.)

How times have changed.  Close to 7 million people ascend the Eiffel Tower every year, and that doesn’t even take in to consideration the countless millions of other visitors who come to admire the international symbol of Paris.  We were two such gawkers who braved peddlers of selfie sticks and rubber band-powered glowing “flying machines” to gaze in wonderment at “The Iron Lady.”


Where to See It

So you’re in Paris, you made plans to see the Eiffel Tower – how can you best enjoy the experience?  It depends on how much of the Tower you want to see.  You can purchase a ticket to ascend to the top for €15, but you’ll also have to wait in an hours-long line (unless you are somehow the first one in line?  I always wonder how that guy gets to be first.)  We decided to opt for a ground-level view of the Tower.  In fact, we planned a whole evening around our visit to the Tower – we picked a day with a good weather forecast, we purchased picnic supplies, and away we went.

Now, it’s time to decide where to station yourself.  You have a few options.  The most obvious choice is the Champ de Mars, a vast park stretching out to the east of the Tower.  Into the evening, however, the park can become quite crowded, as predictably, the Tower becomes a magnet for romantics looking to enjoy a bottle of wine as they gaze upon the “hateful column of bolted sheet metal.”  We opted for the more sparsely populated Jardins du Trocadero, located across the Seine from the Tower.  It offered a wonderful view and some plush lawn space to set up our picnic.

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If you are looking for an even more magnificent view of the Tower and don’t mind sitting on a hard surface (river banks made of concrete/rock), opt for a spot along the Seine just off the Avenue de New York (which, when translated, means “Avenue of New York”).  Go down the steps from the street towards the water, and you can sit along the banks of the river and enjoy just a spectacular view.  If you’re into photography, you will appreciate the photos you can take with the lights of the tower shimmering off the river.  We discovered this spot later on in the evening, and loved it!


What It Looks Like

In case you’ve never seen a picture of the Eiffel Tower, well, here are a few.

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Here are some from along the Seine just off Avenue de New York:

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In the last few pictures, you will notice a certain colorful glow to the Tower – after sunset there is an hourly light show.  It lasts for five minutes past the hour, and the Tower twinkles and sparkles with different colors.  It’s simple, yet beautiful.  Each time it happened, you could hear a number of onlookers ooh-ing and ahh-ing.  So make sure you stay long enough to catch the Tower’s performance!

Not bad, at least for a hateful column of bolted sheet metal.

Très bien, Paris.

A post shared by John Page Preston III (@johnnypres) on

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