Eiffel Tower

Monday, May 29th 2000

Who could go to Paris without checking out the Eiffel Tower? It was only supposed to be a temporary thing and was almost pulled down in 1909, but was saved by its capacity to be used as a radio mast. This was quite lucky, because Paris without the Eiffel Tower today seems unthinkable.

I arrived at about 7pm on a beautiful May day. The crowds were still quite large, so before I went up, I wandered around for a while, searching for the photograph that would make the tower look as huge as it is. I strolled down through the Champ de Mars. I passed people in berets playing boules (honestly), people playing cards on a table improvised out of a box in a bin, and other such odd scenes of Paris parklife.

At the bottom of the Champ de Mars is a peace monument, right in front of the military academy. It's a strange juxtaposition. From here, it was a fine view up to the tower, and I walked back towards it. Having now seen it from everywhere except up it, I bought my ticket and went to the lift. It's a little bit disturbing, going up at an angle as you do. By the time we got to the second level, the view was already pretty amazing, and I wondered whether I'd wasted my money on the ticket to the top. But once the lift started the big ascent, I decided it was worth it.

The view from the top was breathtaking. Central Paris glowed in the late evening light. The sky was clear, but there was rain falling to the west. As the sun descended towards the horizon, the light got steadily more and more amazing. After the sunset, the lights slowly came on, until with the sky a deep shade of blue, Paris was like a glowing carpet.

Eventually, at 11pm, I decided I'd have to come down and get the metro back to the youth hostel. It was really difficult to tear myself away, though. I hadn't expected to be so impressed by the tower.

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