Paris in a Day – Monuments: Day Three
The two most famous monuments in Paris are within walking distance of each other. First:
La Tour Eiffel is France’s most popular tourist destination and, indeed, in all of Europe. It is definitely worth seeing, but you must book ahead. There are two separate elevators. The first gets you to the first and second levels, where the shops and restaurants are.
But if you want to get to the very top, and you do, then also get a ticket for the upper elevator to the top of the 330-meter structure that is taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. If you consider attractions that require an entrance fee, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument in the world. Twenty-five thousand people visit it daily, or about 7 million annually. I visit it every time I’m in Paris.
At the far end of the Île de Cygnes on the left of the panorama above is a miniature of the famous Statue of Liberty that the French gifted to the U.S. in 1886. On the tablet that Lady Liberty holds is inscribed “July 4, 1776.” The metal structure of the statue on Liberty Island, NY was built by Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower.
The views from the Tower are spectacular. Originally constructed for the 1889 World’s Fair, the French came to love “La dame de fer” (Iron Lady) and maintained it afterward. At night it is illuminated, and every hour it twinkles with additional lights.
The 81-story, 10-ton, wrought-iron Tower is located along the River Seine between the Field of Mars (Champs de Mars) on one side of the river and on the other side of the river by the Palais de Chaillot in the Trocadéro.
After the Tower, you can take a boat cruise on the River Seine in a Bateau Mouche (fly boat) like in the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie Charade.
The Arc de Triomphe is located astride the Avenue des Champs-Élysées (Avenue of the Elysian Fields), one of the most beautiful streets in the world. It is lined with picture-perfect cafés and restaurants with tables on the sidewalk facing the avenue and world-renowned shops. Louis Vuitton House is only a few blocks away. The Arc is walkable from the Orangery Museum.
You can take an elevator to the top, with a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower, or walk the ten flights of steps and find a museum just below the roof.
There is a subway station (Metro) immediately below it, exit at Charles de Gaulle-Étoile. It is called Étoile, as twelve avenues radiate out like a “star” from the traffic circle that surrounds the Arc.
The Arc memorializes those who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Below it is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. It was a rallying point following the “Liberation of Paris” in World War II. It is featured prominently in the military parade on Bastille Day celebrations.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian