The Iron Lady of Paris

The Eiffel Tower, or the Iron Lady as it’s sometimes referred to, is a 1,063 foot tall radio tower that soars in the Paris skyline.  The history of the tower is a big part of what makes it such an important landmark. It was originally built in 1889 as the entranceway to the Worlds Fair, after which it was supposed to be torn down once the permit held by its designer, Gustave Eiffel, wore out. The city saw that it could be of some use as a communication device, though, and thus it remained up and served a significant role during the First Battle of the Marne. What’s interesting here is while the City of Paris saw the tower as an asset, most Parisian citizens saw it as nothing more than an eyesore – especially the arts populace. Local papers even received angry letters criticizing the tower and its continued presence in the beloved city.

Throughout the years, the Eiffel Tower played a significant and interesting role in Parisian history. For instance, during World War II when the Nazi party occupied Paris, the French actually cut the lift cables on the tower in an effort to prevent Adolf Hitler from easily making it to the top. Hitler’s soldiers had to climb all the way to the top to hang the swastika flag, which initially flew off due to the high wind and had to be replaced with a smaller one. Interestingly, Hitler never made it to the top of the tower, which Parisians will recall fondly that Hitler may have conquered France but he couldn’t conquer the Eiffel Tower. After the city of Paris was freed from the grasp of the Nazi party, the lifts to the tower were restored within a matter of hours.

While the Eiffel Tower is probably France’s biggest tourist attraction, it still maintains its role as a radio tower, with two radio stations broadcasting their signals from the top. When visiting the Iron Lady today, there are a number of things you can view that really give you a unique perspective of the tower and its rich history. The top of the tower is host to a small apartment that Gustave Eiffel l used at one time to host parties. The apartment can still be seen today and provides an interesting glimpse into the towers history. You can even catch a meal, or two, on the Eiffel Tower at one of its TWO restaurants – Le 58 tour Eiffel on the first level and Le Jules Verne on the second level. The latter of the two restaurants even has a Michelin Star! Another unique piece of history you can view is the engraved names of the seventy-two people that helped design and contribute to what the Eiffel Tower is today. Included are inscriptions of scientists, engineers, and even Gustave Eiffel himself.

You can also learn about a few very unique events in which the Eiffel Tower starred while you are here. For example, in 1912 an Austrian named Franz Reichelt attempted to jump 60 metres from the first floor using a home designed parachute. Sadly, he failed and fell to his death. Interestingly, this would be the first of many daredevils jumping from the Eiffel Tower. You can also learn of a more recent odd fact – the Eiffel Tower is apparently married? That’s right! In 2007, Erika Eiffel, married (or as much as one can marry a steel tower) the Eiffel Tower.

Visiting this landmark that is truly a Paris, and a global, icon is a definite must see for any Parisian tourist, especially if you want to get a remarkable glimpse into the history and greatness of Paris. Plus, the view from the top, where you can see all of Paris, is just breathtaking. Make it your first stop, or make it your last stop, just as long as you stop by!