Stalking the Eiffel Tower

by Gray Cargill on December 17, 2010

Eiffel Tower at Sunset from Montmartre

Eiffel Tower at Sunset from Montmartre

Is it any wonder Paris has always been a dream destination of mine?  It’s got such a romantic allure.  The first thing I always think of when I think of Paris is its most iconic landmark, the magnificent Eiffel Tower, reaching for the sky.  So naturally, the first thing I did when I arrived in Paris was visit. . .Notre Dame.  Wait–huh?

View of Eiffel Tower from Ferris Wheel, Place de la Concorde

View of Eiffel Tower from Ferris Wheel, Place de la Concorde

Yeah, that’s right.  I didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower first. I didn’t even visit it second.  I didn’t actually get around to going to the Eiffel Tower until day 5 of my trip.  Not that I didn’t get to see teasing glimpses of it playing peekaboo with me as I toured other areas of Paris, such as Montmartre.  In fact, that’s pretty much what I was looking for as I toured the rest of Paris.  I wanted to see what kinds of photos I could take of the Eiffel Tower from other areas of the city.  While the Eiffel Tower is visible from some places in Paris, I was surprised that you can’t actually see it everywhere in Paris.  I mean, are you kidding?  Something that tall??? 

Base of Eiffel Tower

Base of Eiffel Tower

Other than my cat-like desire to stalk my prey from afar before pouncing on it, part of me put it off because I wanted to savor the anticipation of seeing it.  I was “saving the best for last”–a risky tactic which has bitten me in the ass before, like when I was scheduled to visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico at the end of my week there, and spent the entire night before throwing up from food poisoning.

But the more practical reason for saving the Eiffel Tower for late in my stay was geography; I wanted to wait until I was staying in the 7th arrondissement, where it was within walking distance of my hotel.  But I thought about it all week long.  Oh, the anticipation!  Should I go up?  Should I not go up?  How will it feel to be standing at the base?  How tall is it really when you’re standing right next to it?

Eiffel Tower shrouded in mist

Misty night

On Friday evening, I finally walked up the Champs de Mars to the Eiffel Tower. . .only to find it shrouded in mist, the upper quarter of the tower missing, like the Invisible Man beneath his wrappings.  That was kind of a let down (though it did make for some great photos).

Eiffel Tower

On Saturday, the sun was shining, so I went back and got the full view.  I also got a terrific nighttime view of it that night from my bateaux mouches boat tour of the Seine.  And you know what? I’m glad I saved it until later in my trip because Saturday was one of only two sunny days during my entire week in Paris, and it was really nice to enjoy the area around the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful, sunny day.  In this particular case, the risk paid off beautifully.

Am I crazy for saving it for last?  When you travel to a dream locale, do you save the best for last, or do you do it first?  What influences the order in which you see sights?

Gray January 18, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Yikes. I don’t think I’ve seen that movie. Yes, it is really impressive when you’re up close to it.

TravelinWoman December 25, 2010 at 4:05 am

Funny, Notre Dame was the 1st thing I saw on my first trip to Paris back in the mid 90’s. Dumb luck really, just happened upon it. I think it had scaffolding all around it because it was being cleaned. You know, sandblasting 100s of years of polution and bird poop off. No real plans to our trip either. It was basically get to Paris and just walk around. Hey! there’s the Louvere. Let’s go in. Hmm, the Mona Lisa…eh. Not impressed. Shameful I know. Arc de Triomphe…beautiful…Champs Elysees…just looking thanks. What’s La Defence? It was “new” back then….geek paradise/business center….interesting. Then came the Eiffel Tower…ah-aaahhh!, my favorite by far. Have an old photo of the tower from that trip as my screen saver at work. Makes me smile everytime.
Flying solo to Paris next week myself.
I think I shall stalk the tower as well. Great idea Gray. Definitely need a new photo.
Don’t care that it will be freezing. It’s Paris!

SoloFriendly December 29, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Have a wonderful trip to Paris! I suspect you’ll find solo a bit different than with others.

GRRRL TRAVELER December 23, 2010 at 6:57 am

AWESOME photos, Gray! Well done.

Mixed. Sometimes my itinerary is logistical, sometimes I play by ear or save the most hyped for last. Major landmarks, sometimes I feel like I’ve seen it so much through media and movies that well, … it’s not going anywhere. If I miss it, I’ll see it look better in a photo. The Taj Mahal was actually just that for me. I passed on it. The “unique and bizaree experiential stuff”– those things, I clear the schedule for and want to do asap; I suspect the unknown will happen and that might require more time. LOL.

Jessalyn Pinneo December 20, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I had the same thought the first time I was in Paris: “Where is it?!” I was staying in the 4th, by the Hôtel de Ville, and didn’t catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower until well into my 2nd day there. I was terrified that it had somehow run off in the middle of the night before I got a chance to see it!

I like SingleOccupancyBlog’s idea – I tend to plan out what I want to see and do, but I don’t set up a specific schedule (unless one is required based on opening times/days), I just go with what I’m in the mood for each day of my trip.

Also, I LOVE the first photo, from Montmartre – what a beautiful shot!

SoloFriendly December 20, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Thank you very much, Jessalyn. And thanks for the laugh–I have this image now of the Eiffel Tower lifting its 4 legs to tiptoe through Paris on its way out of town.

Sabina December 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm

It’s pretty risky to save it till last. Like you say, you could end up spending the entire evening prior vomiting. However, it is a great deal of fun to let anticipation build and build. The chances of something happening to ruin or put a damper on vacation times are not that great. I think you did the right thing by waiting. After all, that’s what felt right to you at the time.

SoloFriendly December 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm

How do you determine the order in which to see things, Sabina? Or do you play it by ear?

Sabina December 22, 2010 at 4:52 am

When I want to see something, I’ll pretty much head right there. It’s great to be able to have enough time to go back and see it again and maybe even a third time.

Joya December 19, 2010 at 12:29 am

Beautiful pictures Gray! Stalking the Eiffel Tower was my favorite pastime too while in Paris. I loved that no matter where I was in the city, I could look up and the tower would be there in the distance.

SoloFriendly December 19, 2010 at 12:41 am

Thanks, Joya. I was always surprised when I couldn’t see it–especially from my 6th floor room in the 7th that was facing in the direction of the Eiffel Tower! Darn buildings get in the way. 🙂

SingleOccupancy Blog December 17, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Great post, Gray! I’ve been embracing more of a “go with the flow” approach with travel recently, so that may mean saving the best for last or not. It all depends on my mood from day to day.

SoloFriendly December 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Ah, mood-based travel planning. Okay, I hadn’t thought of that one. 🙂
Sometimes I wish I could be more laid back about my itinerary. But I am who I am. Sigh.

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