Climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris

It’s a bit of a cliche, but we couldn’t very well take a trip to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower, could we? As it turned out, for a good part of our trip, I was worried that just might happen. We’d had day after day of clouds and rain in Paris, and after riding the London Eye in the rain, I knew it wouldn’t be worth it to go up into the Eiffel Tower unless the weather improved. As if in answer to our prayers, on our last full day in Paris the weather gods smiled on us and we got sun. Lots of it.

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

We headed to the Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning, which for us means 11am. (I don’t like to be rushed while on vacation!) I suspected there would be a line, this is Paris after all, but holy crowds! Judging by the amount of people there, I would have thought it was a weekend in the summer, not a Tuesday in late October! Apparently Paris does not have an off-season.

There were three lines for visitors heading up – two for those taking the lifts, and one for people willing to take the stairs. I had read online that the lines for the lifts would be much longer than the line for the stairs, but to tell you the truth, they looked the same to me – all depressingly long. Advance online ticket purchases are available that will let you skip the line, but if you don’t know what the weather will be like on your trip, you’re taking a chance that it’ll be raining during your specified time.

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Climbing the Eiffel Tower

We ultimately decided it would be really fun to say that we had actually climbed the Eiffel Tower instead of taking the lift the whole way. The image I get in my head is of us scaling the tower King Kong-style. In reality, it was far less dramatic than it was exhausting!

There were over 700 stairs up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower with a first level break in between. You need to be in good shape before you undertake this! Even though I was wheezing by the 200th step, I’m still glad we did it, and not just because it saved us a little money, although that is a bonus when you’ve got three people to pay for. I tried not to look down as we were climbing, but the few times I did, I got that feeling in my stomach like when you’re on a swing set and you’ve suddenly swung a little too high, but no worries – the stairs are completely enclosed on both sides. You will not fall off the Eiffel Tower. (I had to repeat that in my own head multiple times, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

First Level Views

Upon reaching the first level, I let out a huge sigh of relief until I realized we weren’t actually on the second level. When we purchased our tickets, I thought they only included the second level and that along the way I had somehow passed the first level and not noticed it. (Maybe while I was squeezing my eyes shut and climbing after making the mistake of looking down?)

As it turned out, the first level was my favorite for taking photos. It was completely enclosed on all sides by the fencing pictured above, and that’s the only reason I felt safe enough to venture out to the edge and take photos. (Seriously people, heights make me extremely nauseous if I don’t feel protected!)

You can see so much from the first level – the Champs de Mars, Les Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb), and La Basilique du Sacré Coeur to name a few. Many of the shots in this post were taken with a 55-250mm lens, so keep in mind that some things, particularly Sacré Coeur which is a good ways away, won’t appear this close if you don’t have the right equipment, but you’ll still be able to see them, especially if you make use of the telescopes provided for a small fee. (This is me pretending to use a telescope.)

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

We were allowed to spend as much time here as we wanted (that goes for all levels, actually), and we took full advantage of that. I’d say we spent about thirty minutes on the first level making our way around all sides, snapping photos and watching the people below, and then it was time to make our way to the second level. Hallelujah, more stairs! (I’m kidding, it’s really not that bad as long as you’re a trained marathon runner.)

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Second Level Views

After a total of 704 stairs, we reached the second level, and this was where I began to freak out a bit. We were still enclosed with fencing on all sides, but not above our heads. And so I began thinking up completely irrational scenarios that all ended in the same horrific manner, for example – my imminent demise at the hands of a madman loose on the second story of the Eiffel Tower whose mission it was to pick me up over his head and toss me over the side. Like I said, I might have been a tad irrational.

So while the panoramic views from the second level were even better than those on the first level, I could barely think beyond snapping a few quick shots and getting the heck out of dodge. Evidence of my fear – the composition in the photo of the bridges over the Seine is awful, just awful. I even made Lexie hang onto the back of my jacket as I took photos. I was completely protected by a fence, mind you. I had lost all ability to reason beyond the most basic of human thought processes. Breathe in, hit the shutter button, breathe out…

And it was at this point that we had to make a decision. We’d only bought tickets that would take us up to the second level via the stairs, but we had intended on purchasing tickets once we reached the second level that would take us to the top via the lifts, the only way to reach the top as there are no stairs past the second level. Even though I was pretty close to crying and I knew it would only get worse if we went to the top, I also knew I’d regret it more if we went back down before reaching our goal. So up we went.

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

View from the Top

The lift took about 100 years to get us to the top, and we were smashed into it with around thirty strangers. (Normally this would bother me, too, but I have to prioritize my fears, and heights always takes precedence.) We came out of the lift into an actual room with windows along the sides and I’d have been perfectly happy if that was where it ended, but no. There is one more set of stairs to climb and then you are quite literally at the top of the Eiffel Tower. At least as far as one can go, anyways.

It was freezing cold and windy up this high. I had gone into self preservation mode about two seconds before we entered the final viewing platform, so I didn’t even look at the view – I just took the photo above by lifting the camera and hitting the shutter button with my eyes closed. And then I promptly went back into the covered area and waited to go back down.

To be honest, after looking at the photo I took, I much prefer the views from the lower two levels. At the top, we were up so high above the city that it was nearly impossible to pick out any specific sights. So really, if you’re going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you’re not doing it for the photos, you’re doing it to say you’ve been there, and that was the whole point of putting myself through this. I did it once, and that’s enough.

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Visiting the Eiffel Tower with Kids

But this girl, she wasn’t scared at all. She was holding onto my hand on the viewing platforms for my benefit, not hers! Speaking of bringing kids to the Eiffel Tower, there are some fun online activities on the Eiffel Tower website you can do with young children before your visit to get them excited about it. However, if you’ve got small children, particularly those that like to be carried, I wouldn’t recommend taking the stairs for obvious reasons.

From start to finish, the whole Eiffel Tower experience probably took around three hours. Half of that time was spent waiting in line to buy tickets. The other half was walking up the stairs, taking photos on the first and second levels, waiting in line for the lift to the top, and then coming back down via the lift and the stairs.

When we got back down on the ground, I was all, ‘Hey, that wasn’t so bad!’ And then Cory looked at me like I’d lost my mind because he had just minutes before witnessed me descending the tower with a death grip on both sides of the stair railing. But hey, it’s easier to be brave on the ground!

Eiffel Tower: Website
Address: 5 Avenue Anatole, 75007 Paris

Did you enjoy this article or find it helpful? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Climbing The Eiffel Tower In Paris

Share this post:

  • Kate W
    June 22, 2017 at 10:26 AM

    Was there somewhere to leave your bags at all? I know me and my friend want to climb it but were travelling and have no where to store our bags during the day?

    • Sarah Shumate
      June 25, 2017 at 9:46 PM

      I’m not sure if the Eiffel Tower has somewhere you can leave your bags since we didn’t need to do that ourselves. I do know that most of the train stations have lockers to store your bags, though. Maybe that would work?

  • Diana Bockus
    December 2, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    That view is amazing but I’m petrified of heights but as you said, it’s something you do once and then I’m good, haha!

  • Emmymom
    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    I would have never thought it would take that much time to see everything from the Eiffel Tower, but like you said you could stay as long as you wanted taking pictures etc. Glad you made it! :)

  • Melanie Fontaine
    November 30, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    The view is incredible! Next time you’re in Paris (you know there’s going to be a next time! ;) ), I would also recommend a visit a night – that’s my favorite time to go up the tower! Just an hour or two before closing. :) There will be less crowds and seeing Paris from above at night is absolutely amazing and quite magical! :)

  • Miwa
    November 29, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Amazing photos!! I am one of those people who just went all the way to the top… I didn’t even consider taking the stairs because I’m so scared of heights! You are so brave!!

  • Mandy Southgate
    November 29, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Oh! I as quite admiring the unusual composition of the photo of the Seine! Thank you for your excellent advice about the telephoto lens. I often wonder why my photos don’t come out and I think it’s time to buy a 50mm to 250mm for my camera.

    This is a brilliant post! I found myself envious of your excellent travel writing and your photos are fantastic. Love it.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 29, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      I love my 50-250mm! If my fixed lens (50mm) isn’t on my camera, then this one is. They aren’t super expensive either. It was particularly useful when we lived out in the country and I wanted to capture the wildlife without disturbing them!

      That picture of the Seine drives me crazy! If only I’d moved the frame just a bit to the right… But I’m glad someone likes it! :o)

  • topchelseagirl
    November 28, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    I’ve been up it 3 or 4 times – can’t quite remember now, but always took the lift, altho we did walk down once.
    Well done for facing your fear, I love heights and I’m the one hanging over the edge with my camera.

  • Lorna Sandison
    November 28, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    I always think the tourist traps are traps for a reason: because they’re mostly worth seeing. The Eiffel tower definitely fits into that category! You just can’t go to Paris and not climb it.

  • Claire
    November 28, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    Wow you are brave! I climbed between the first and second floors (if memory serves!) when I was about 10, and I remember sitting down on the steps and refusing to go further… probably about a quarter of the way up! What a gorgeous day you had though, lovely photos!!

  • Natalie
    November 28, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    Wow again unbelievable pics! I went to Paris in high school and loved the Eiffel Tower but we only got one day there :(

  • Nicole
    November 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    What a gorgeous view! I think I agree with you on the viewpoints for taking pictures though-I liked the lower levels because you could see more detail. And I KNOW you would have regretted it if you didn’t go to the top, so I’m glad you did. By the way, you’re becoming quite the little fashionista! You look quite Paris chic in this outfit if you ask me :)

  • Robert Wareham
    November 27, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    Haha! I’m sorry, I know it’s awful, but this post was hilarious. I may have been revelling in a little schadenfreude because I’m not at all fazed by heights. But I think everybody knows that feeling of complete irrationality when your scared, your mind will trick you into thinking it’s absolutely definitely going to happen!

  • Quyen Nguyen
    November 27, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    The way Paris is laid out is so magical! I will never tire of seeing pictures of Paris from above, or from anywhere!

  • Asmaa
    November 27, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Well done! You realise this is a case of Facing Your Fears and Sarah you deserve a round of applause :P And I like how you ‘prioritised’ your fears! I do the exact same! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 28, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      Thank you, Asmaa!! I felt pretty proud of myself after we were back on the ground, too. Too bad I’m not one of those people who face their fears AND conquers them. It would be awfully nice to not be so scared of heights all the time.

      • Asmaa
        November 29, 2013 at 7:53 PM

        Haha! Sadly I’m not one of those people either! Who face and conquer their fears that is!

  • Katrin
    November 27, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Oh wow, I love your pictures! Thanks so much for sharing! I have been to Paris a couple of times but I have never climbed the Eiffel Tower!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    November 27, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    This cracked me up!! Only because I can completely relate!! I start having those irrational thoughts too that someone, not paying attention, is going to bump into me so hard that it takes me hurling over the edge!! I stand there and think this stuff through!!! But, I’m also one that wants to conquer my fears, but that’s getting harder as I get older. Why torture myself?! However, although I’ve done the Eiffel Tower, if we found ourselves there again, I’d definitely do it! Since I’m no where NEAR a marathon runner, I think I’ll take the lift! ;)

  • Abby Rockwood
    November 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    Amazing shot of the Eiffel Tower!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    November 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I think it is so great you took the stairs. I don’t think I will be able to do it. I am booking flights to Paris tonight. This post has made me even more excited :)

  • Shaylynn
    November 27, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    So, now I know. I’ll only do the first floor. 700 steps. Pass.

    So beautifully captured, as always. You’re very good at photographing those dreams of mine.

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    November 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    At least you did it! After walking around Paris all day, there was no way we were taking the stairs, but we did take them part of the way back down. And I agree, the better photo points are the lower levels.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 27, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      In the same day we did the stairs in the Eiffel Tower and the ones at Sacre Coeur. That’s more than 1,000 stairs in a day. And then we had to go back down them all… I don’t know what we were thinking.

  • Sara Louise
    November 27, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    No, Paris definitely does not have an off-season because it’s so freaking fabulous! :)