Climbing the Eiffel Tower at dusk is a must in my book, but how can you go to Paris and not climb the Eiffel Tower?

I mean who would do that?

Why would you do that?

WHY DID I DO THAT?

January 2014 and I whisk the lady off to Paris for the weekend.  We have an amazing time, exploring Montmarte and the Sacré Cœur, sipping on secret cocktails, walking around and underneath the arc de triumph, riding segways along La Seine and taking in the Eiffel Tower from all angles, but never actually climbing it.

Yes you read that correctly.  Upon my first ever visit to the French capital, not only did I fail to climb the Eiffel Tower at dusk, but I failed to climb it at all.  Massive fail!

Whilst we obviously understood the incredible views which climbing the tower could provide, but we were both of the mindset that we’d like to look AT the tower, rather than out from it.  It was no different when we visited NYC, where chose to climb the Top Of The Rock rather that the Empire State Building to look out over New York, and taking in the Empire State Building as a part of those views.

Does that way of thinking even make the slightest bit of sense?

views of the Eiffiel Tower

Anyway, what with being lucky enough to visit for a second time this summer, I decided that we couldn’t go a second time in the French capital without climbing what is arguably its most famous landmark.  We were to join the 250+ million other people who had visited the tower since it’s completion in March 1889.

… Actually, we took the elevator rather than climb the stair, unlike chief architect Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel whom the tower was named after.  Haven overseen the last of nearly 18,000 iron pieces put into place, Alendre-Gustave climbed the tower via it’s 1,710 steps, as the lifts weren’t yet working.  I would have obviously loved to have re-traced those exact same footsteps, but owing to a running injury I decided taking the lift was a safer bet.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Fun fact: The lifts travel a combined distance of 103,000 km a year – two and a half times the circumference of the Earth. Source – www.telegraph.co.uk

The Eiffel Tower at dusk

Hoping on a local bus, we arrived at the base of the tower to meet a friend who was in town (@BeMeyer) at around 8.30pm.  I must say that the tower is that much more impressive close up. No question that from a distance it looks sublime too, but up close I really came to appreciate the scale of the tower, and just how high 324 metres is.  For the record, that’s VERY tall!

Now dusk by my book is usually around 6 or 7pm, during the summer months the sun doesn’t set on Paris until as late as 10pm.

Eiffel Tower Paris

Below the Eiffel tower waiting for tickets

What with Paris, and France in general being so renowned for it’s quality of food, you may have thought that most visitors to the city would be out at dinner around this time in the evening. Not so.

As you can see from the above, the queues to climb the tower were still fairly lengthy, but at least they weren’t at a complete standstill, and our mini party of 3 had soon moved from underneath the tower into its elevator and moving in an upwards direction.

underneath the Eiffel Tower looking up

The views from 2nd floor

En Route to the top of the tower we ignored the 1st floor entirely, choosing to stay in the elevator and go straight to the 2nd floor.

From the 2nd floor, we would have to join another queue to get a separate lift to the summit, but whilst queuing we were afforded some pretty spectacular views.

eiffel tower 2nd level

eiffel tower at sunset

eiffel tower at sunset

The summit

Now this is the reason you climb the Eiffel Tower at dusk!

To say that it can get a little crowded at the top of the tower would be a fairly severe understatement.  Naturally everyone wants photo’s of the views, and selfies too obviously.

Seriously, you need do to watch out for those low flying selfie-sticks, but if/when you survive them, and you do manage to find yourself a gap in the crowds, it all becomes worth it.

I can now safely say that the 3rd floor of the Eiffel Tower is one of the best ways to see Paris.

Sunset view from the eiffel tower

Eiffel Tower summit lift

Each night the Eiffel Tower is illuminated in incredible fashion by some 20,000 light bulbs.  The tower even sparkles each hour after sundown, for a full 5 minutes at a time.

Once upon a time however (between 1925 and 1936), the tower was actually illuminated by over a quarter of a million light bulbs as it turned into the world’s biggest advertisement.  Spelt out in 100-foot vertical letters, the company name emblazoned on the side of the tower in bright lights was that of French automobile company Citroen.  The advertisement could supposedly be seen up to 20 miles away!

Champagne Bar Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower lit up at night

Why climb the Eiffel Tower at dusk?

Why dusk?

Well you’ve heard of ‘golden hour‘ right? No?  OK well here’s a quick description …

Technically there are 2 Golden Hours (AKA “magic hour”) a day.  The 1st is coincidently the first hour of light after sunrise, and the 2nd is the last hour of light before sunset. Essentially the light finding its way into your camera lens during these hours is softer, and produces less contrast.  In turn this reduces the chances of your photographs becoming blown-out or containing too many strong shadows.  Add to that how beautiful both a rising and setting sun are, and that with the early or late hour less people are likely to be around and in the way of your shot, and you have yourself a Golden Hour.  Or at least that’s how I understand it.

So Golden Hour, a great reason to climb the Eiffel Tower at dusk, but not the only reason.

Climb the Eiffel Tower, or any of tower/lookout/viewing deck at any time of day other than dusk and you’ll only experience the views in essentially one light setting. Climb those same towers/decks just as an hour or so before the sun is due to set, and typically you can hang around long enough to experience those same views once the sun has set and the lights come on. Essentially you get 2 viewing experiences for the price of 1.  It’s not rocket science by any means, but this is a sight seeing tactic the lady and I employ wherever and whenever a lookout point opportunity presents itself.  It worked wonders in New York, and again here in Paris.

eiffel tower gardens

Eiffel Tower at night

I get that sundown is a time when a lot of tourist and locals alike will either head home, to dinner, or for drinks, but I think it’s the perfect time to climb something very tall, and get 2 incredible views over your chosen destination.  The contrast in views can be quite staggering, and can make for some beautiful photographs.

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Tickets can be booked online, but even once those are sold out you can still queue for tickets in person at the tower, that’s what we did. Prices depend on how far you want to go up the tower.

  • Adult ticket to the 2nd floor via lift – €9.00 / £6.30 / $9.90
  • Adult ticket to the summit via 2x lifts – €15.00 / £10.50 / $16.50

… these prices will be increasing from September 1st however, so it’s probably best to check the official site for full details of ticket prices, and opening times.

Don’t forget, climb the Eiffel Tower at dusk for the most spectacular views!

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Eiffel tower at dusk