Ah, the Eiffel Tower. The definitive bucket list site in Paris. Completed in 1889 for the World’s Fair in Paris, its still the tallest structure in Paris and very popular with visitors, who can ascend to the very top on most days (the top is occasionally closed for wind). I’ve visited the Eiffel Tower many times of the years, and visiting it has changed significantly in the last 20 years. Gone are the days of picnicing in the Champs de Mars and gone are the days of buying a ticket on the spot. Now, due to increased security measures, tourists should plan their visit in advance to save precious Paris vacation time and ensure their ticket to the top! Here is my guide on visiting and dining on the Eiffel Tower (skip to the bottom for information on dining on the Eiffel Tower only) in 2019!
Earlier this year on my Girls Trip to Paris, Pryor and I went back to the Eiffel Tower and had dinner on its first floor, 58 meters above the ground, at Restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel! We had a great time and while its touristy, I highly recommend a meal here for the experience; its super fun, the food is surprisingly good, and its really a bucket list check! While I have outlined the process of visiting the Eiffel Tower here, be sure to check the Eiffel Tower’s excellent website (linked below) for the most up to date information.
Entrance to the Eiffel Tower Complex
As mentioned, if you haven’t been to Paris in a long time, entering the Eiffel Tower is probably way different than you remember. Gone are the days of simply walking under the Eiffel Tower, having a picnic in adjacent park, or taking whatever you damn well please to the top. Now, there is an enclosed “complex” surrounding the Eiffel Tower and very tight security – airport style – to access that complex…
Particularly, if you are on the Trocadero side of the Tower (the side adjacent to the River Seine), the entrance is (currently) on the left side of the tower, also known as the “East (or “Est” in French) Entrance.” Line up. All visitors must pass through a metal detector and all bags go through a security scan. In busy seasons, the lines can be very long. However, if you have a reservation at Restaurant 58 or the Jules Verne, tell the employee managing the line (or show him your reservation confirmation email) and you should be able to cut the line via the left side of the line. I am not sure if this holds true for timed Eiffel Tower tickets (see below), but its worth an ask. And to note, you cannot, by any means, skip this security check point, even if you are not planning to actually ascend the Eiffel Tower.
Buying Tickets to the Eiffel Tower
My advice is to buy tickets to the Eiffel Tower online in advance via the Eiffel Tower’s official website (linked below). Tickets to the very top (i.e. the Sommet or Summit) are timed and limited, and a visit to the Eiffel Tower is something many tourists simply cannot miss. Tickets are easy to purchase online, and you can purchase tickets to the first two floors (via stairs or elevator) or all the way to the top (outlined below). If in doubt, I recommend splurging for a ticket to the top! If you do not heed this advice (you should), proceed through the security check point without tickets – the ticket desks are inside the Eiffel Tower complex.
Regardless of whether you purchase tickets online or at the Eiffel Tower, after security, visitors walk through a little park with great views of the tower and will shortly find themselves directly under the Eiffel Tower – a great picture opportunity! If you do not have a ticket, you can purchase them in this area on the right side of the tower (now facing Torcadero) in little kiosks. There will almost certainly be lines in high season. If you do have a timed ticket, print it at home and exchange it here for a physical ticket.
If you have a restaurant reservation, print your confirmation at home and show it at the kiosk to collect your physical tower tickets (old school, but they are kind of cool and have been almost the same for the last 20 years) from the small green kiosk on the right side of the tower (again, now facing Trocadero). And yes, they require a copy of your reservation. You can pull it up on your phone, but not everyone’s phone works in a foreign country.
After collecting your physical tickets (restaurant or otherwise), cross under the Eiffel Tower and get in line for the elevator. There are signs for 58 Tour Eiffel, but you just get in the general line, most people are probably in line for the restaurant as well if its around the time of one of the seatings. Before getting on the elevator, which are two floors (!), you need to once again put your bag through a security scanner. Once in the elevator, get off at the first stop, i.e. the first floor!
I would also note that you can walk between the ground and the first floor and the first and second floors. I have done this once, and it was not exactly fun… But, it does save a bit of money and makes for a good story. If you intend to do this, be sure to purchase the correct ticket (outlined below). Entrance to the stairs is on the West Side of the Tower, look for signs!
The First Floor of the Eiffel Tower
The First Floor of the Eiffel Tower is probably the least popular of its 3 floors and, quite frankly, many people skip the First Floor all together. This is because you can take the elevator from the ground directly to the second floor, and there is no mandatory exit on the First Floor (unless you are eating at Restaurant 58!). In any case, the First Floor is home to a couple shops, which are overpriced but have great Eiffel Tower merchandise, a cafe selling sandwiches, pizza, and soda and wine, and Restaurant 58! You almost always need an advance reservation for a meal at Restaurant 58, but you can check for open reservations the day of on the ground floor (where you would collect tickets). More info on Restaurant 58 further down in this post!
The Second Floor Floor of the Eiffel Tower
If you skip the First Floor, stay on the elevator until it reaches the Second Floor, which most people will do. If you do get off on the First Floor, catch the same elevator to the Second Floor when you are ready. The elevators have operators and they will ensure that you get on!
Most everyone stops at the Second Floor of the Eiffel Tower, as its where you catch the (separate) elevator to the top! Plus, views are pretty great here. The Second Floor is formally home to more cafe stands, a Macaron Bar, the famous Jules Verne restaurant (closed at the time of writing for renovations), and the very important elevator to the Sommet! We only stopped here to catch the elevator to the top and snap a couple pictures!
Ah, the sommet! A/K/A the very top of the Eiffel Tower! To get to the Sommet, line up in the Sommet elevator line on the Second Floor to take a smaller, red elevator to the very top. You will need your hard ticket here. Once at the top, or the Sommet, you are let out on the first ENCLOSED floor. You can walk all the way around for 360 views of Paris. The windows point out various places of interest in the city. There is also a little mock-up of Gustav Eiffel’s office, which was originally on this level.
For the very best views of Paris, climb the small staircase (maybe 10 steps) and ascend to the second floor of the Sommet. Here, the tower is no longer enclosed (though it is caged in) and you can get great views of Paris! There is also a Champagne Bar on this level which, while very over priced, is very fun! Regular Champagne and Rose Champagne are on offer, and can be purchased in a light up glass!
Dinner at Restaurant 58!
When I was in Paris in February, I dined at Restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel, which is a great “extra” on the Eiffel Tower. This was my third time dining here, and the dinner was just as fun as I remembered! I will say for all of those iffy about eating at such a touristy destination, you are a tourist and this is the ultimate tourist activity in Paris. Plus, the food here is better than most of the restaurants close to the Eiffel Tower.
Restaurant 58 has two seatings nightly – 6:30 PM and 9:00 PM, and you can only stay in the restaurant for about 2 hours. We opted for the 6:30 PM seating. Upon arrival, we were promptly shown to our table, which was perfectly set! Our waiter quickly came around and poured everyone a full glass of Champagne!
Every meal at Restaurant 58 comes with 3 glasses of wine and three food courses, and the menu changes seasonally. The menus were presented as soon as we were seated. For each course – a starter, main, and dessert – there are multiple choices for each course and you order everything at once at the beginning of the meal.
For starters, which I thought were the best of the three courses (though all were tasty), most of our group took the Cream of Mushroom Soup with Truffle Ricotta and Hazelnut Oil. I did, and this soup was ridiculously good, especially for a meal in a touristy restaurant. It was presented very nicely too – a large white bowl with a few mushrooms, accompanied by a silver pitcher containing the soup, which was poured into the bowl by our server. The Spiced Shrimp and Duck Foie Gras were also popular appetizers amongst the group. The first course was served with a glass of red or white wine – diners choice. I opted for the Chateau la Pierriere, a Grand Vin du Bordeaux. It was higher quality than I expected.
For mains, I ordered the Sea Bream Filet with Butternut Squash, Chinese Artichokes, Potato Gnocchi, and Beurre Blanc Sauce with Purple Mustard. The dish was beautifully plated on a black piece of slate and the dish quite large. My only complaint was that the gnocchi was almost nonexistent… The Beef Chunk dish was also a favorite with our group, as was the Roasted Cod Filet. All of the dishes were a good size. The main course was also served with another glass of red or white wine – diners choice!
For dessert, most of the table ordered the Profiterole with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. The Chocolate Sauce was served on the side in a silver pitcher, which poured over the Profiterole to fit. We tried to Boomerang it, without success. Everyone also took coffee (included) at the end of the meal.
Since we had already paid for dinner, the only thing left to pay was gratuity, which we left in cash. Our waiter also gave us to-go cups for our unfinished wine, which we could drink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Eiffel Tower: The official website. Only buy your tickets here. For summer 2019, prices are as follows:
- Tickets to the Sommet (including all floors) via elevator: 25,50
- Tickets to the Sommet (including all floors) via stairs to Second Floor, elevator to the top: 19,40
- Tickets to the Second Floor via elevator: 16,30
- Tickets to the Second Floor via stairs (NO elevator access): 10,20
Restaurant 58 : All meals are pre-purchased, and dinner ranges from 95 euro per person to 175 per person for a window view at the last seating. I would hesitate to book a window guaranty, as many of the tables are on the windows and have windows views. I would roll the dice unless you were getting engaged or something! Lunch is cheaper and starts at 41 euros this summer. Check the website for booking and for the most up to date information.
To be clear, access to the Sommet, or the third and top floor of the Eiffel Tower, is NOT included in your Restaurant 58 dinner. Instead, you have to purchase tickets separately at the Eiffel Tower or from its website. I purchased access to the Sommet at 9:30 PM (to coincide with the end of my dinner) in advance and brought the ticket with me. The elevator guide permitted us to go up from the first floor (the location of the restaurant). However, this is not guaranteed; you may have to go back down and then back up. Also, you cannot buy tickets to the top on the first floor, at least as of February 2018. If this is something that you cannot miss, I recommend just buying access to the top in advance. I mean, when in France?
Jules Verne: The Eiffel Tower is also home to the Michelin-starred Jules Verne. When I visited in February 2018, it was closed for major renovations, expecting to open later in the summer of 2019. The Jules Verne is located on the 2nd Floor of the tower and has its own devoted elevator bank. The Jules Verne is quite a bit more expensive than Restaurant 58 – FYI. A 7 course tasting is 230 euro per person. I have sadly never been…Dan, can we go???? Reservations required, and a dinner jacket for men would be appropriate.