The Eiffel Tower is an iconic Parisian landmark that attracts millions of tourists every year. Inaugurated on March 31, 1889 for the Universal Exhibition, it owes its name to the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 1987, the Eiffel Tower, also known as the “Lady of Iron”, was for more than 40 years the tallest structure in the world. Located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, the french monument welcomes more than six million visitors each year, making it the 3rd most visited monument in France, after the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre Museum .
The Eiffel Tower construction project
The construction project started in June 1884 by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier who wanted to build a 300-meter-high metal tower to celebrate the Universal Exhibition which would take place in 1889. In 1885, Gustave Eiffel proposed the construction project to the Minister of Industry and Commerce in the form of a competition and opted for the location of the project on the Champs de Mars in Paris. 107 other projects are proposed to animate the Universal Exhibition of 1889, Gustave Eiffel wins the competition and is authorized to build his iron lady on the Champs de Mars, a project which initially was to span the Seine or stick to the old palace from the Trocadero. In its negotiation with the city of Paris, the contract stipulates that Gustave Eiffel will operate the tower that bears his name until December 31, 1909. After this date, the monument will become the property of the city of Paris.
The construction of the tower
To build his tower, Gustave Eiffel initially planned 12 months of work but finally 26 months of work will be necessary to complete the construction of the iron lady in March 1889 (5 months for the foundations and 21 months for the metal part). The Gustave Eiffel factories located in Levallois-Perret carry out a large part of the work of assembling the elements, which will limit the number of workers present on the Champs de Mars site for construction to 250. The Eiffel Tower is made up of 18,038 pieces of iron held together by 2.5 million rivets. The foundations consist of 4 huge concrete pillars to minimize ground pressure. The vaulters are the workers in charge of mounting the metal structure of the tower. Up to 30 meters, the metal parts are transported by rotating cranes fixed on the path of the elevators. 12 wooden scaffoldings are installed to transport the parts between 30 and 45 meters high. The junction of huge beams with the 4 edges coming from the 4 pylons makes it possible to complete the first floor of the tower at a height of 57 meters. It was necessary to wait until August 1888 to finalize the second platform (2nd floor) culminating at 115 meters above the ground. The Eiffel Tower will finally be completed in March 1889, without any fatal accident among the workers.
Description of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is 330 meters high and has three floors. The main technical data of the tower are as follows:
- The foundations of the Eiffel Tower : the 2 pillars located on the side of the military school rest on a gravel pit 7 meters deep covered with 2 meters of concrete. The 2 pillars visible from the side of the Seine are located below the level of the river. The edges of the 4 pillars are supported by 16 rafters inclined at 54 degrees to the ground.
- The foundations of the Eiffel Tower : each of the 4 pillars is oriented towards a cardinal point and the foundations of each pillar measure 25 meters by 4 meters. The basements accommodate the cash desks for purchasing tickets, as well as the stairs and elevators to climb the tower.
- The arches of the Eiffel Tower : with a diameter of 74 meters and a height of 39 meters, the 4 arches connect the 4 pillars of the tower.
- The first floor of the Eiffel Tower : located 57 meters above the ground, its area extends over 4220m² and it can accommodate up to 2500 people simultaneously. A circular gallery provides a 360° panoramic view of Paris.
- The second floor of the Eiffel Tower : located 115 meters above the ground, its area extends over 1650m² and it can accommodate up to 1600 people simultaneously. It offers the most beautiful view of Paris and its monuments.
- The third floor of the Eiffel Tower : located 276 meters above the ground, its area is 350m² and it can accommodate up to 400 people simultaneously. Access to it is by elevator. The top of the tower also accommodates more than a hundred TV and radio broadcasting antennas.
The shops and restaurants of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower has several restaurants and there are also many souvenir shops that offer a wide range of products related to the Eiffel Tower. The restaurants of the Eiffel Tower are as follows:
- Madame Brasserie : this restaurant located on the first floor offers contemporary cuisine made from local and seasonal products. Run by chef Thierry Marx, this restaurant offers a breathtaking view of the Seine while welcoming its clientele from breakfast to dinner or simply for a drink at the bar.
- The buffets : located on the first and second floors of the Eiffel Tower, the buffets offer fast food, to eat in or take away.
- The Jules Verne : located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, the Jules Verne enjoys an exceptional setting conducive to escape and discovery. Run by the three-starred French chef Frédéric Anton, the Jule Verne restaurant offers gourmet and refined cuisine, from business breakfasts to dinner. An artistic and unforgettable journey in the Parisian sky!
- The champagne bar : located at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the champagne bar offers a unique and unforgettable experience at 265 meters high. Macaroons as well as caviar and soft drinks are also available to satisfy the whole family.
Various souvenir shops are accessible on the forecourt, as well as on the first and second floors of the Eiffel Tower. It should be noted that each shop has its own speciality, from souvenir gifts to gourmet products, textiles or the home.
The illuminations of the Eiffel Tower
Every evening, at nightfall, the monument lights up and sparkles for 5 minutes at the start of each hour, while its lighthouse has shone over the city of Paris since December 31, 1999. The lighthouse is made up of 2 light beams with a range of 80 kilometres. The lighting of the Eiffel Tower is made up of 336 bulbs with a power of 600 watts each. The flickering of the tower, initially implemented to celebrate the transition to the year 2000, required the installation of 20,000 flashing lamps. The Eiffel Tower also lights up according to certain events or tributes.
The tower in a few figures
- The weight of the Eiffel Tower is 10,100 tons.
- Since its creation, more than 250 million visitors have walked the steps of the monument.
- 60 tons of paint are needed to cover the iron lady every 7 years.
- 5 elevators and 1740 steps lead to the top of the tower.
- The operation of the Eiffel Tower requires the presence of 280 employees.
- 120 radio and TV antennas are installed at the top of the tower.
Timetables, prices and additional information are available on the Eiffel Tower website www.toureiffel.paris/fr