Is the Eiffel Tower on Your Bucket List?

Is the Eiffel Tower on your Paris Bucket List? If so, do you have a plan for visiting it?

Security at the Eiffel Tower

We were there three years ago and again this year. One thing we noticed is the tightened security measures that now exist at the Eiffel Tower. Until the terrorist attacks in recent years, the area around and underneath the Eiffel Tower was completely open to the public. We could wander under the structure from one side to another, take photos as we looked up at the wonderful late 19th-century architectural masterpiece, get across the wide expanse…all without buying tickets.

Not so anymore. The whole area around the tower is fenced off and you can’t get past security to get underneath the tower unless you have tickets.

Booking tickets for the Eiffel Tower

Did you know…the most famous cultural symbol of France, the Eiffel Tower, is the most visited paid monument in the world and receives around seven million visitors a year.

Knowing that, this probably is the most important reason to book your tickets in advance! The best and easiest way to do this is online. Ahead of time…in some cases, a long way ahead of time.

But it might help to explain the different options for going up the tower first.

The stairs or the elevators?

First, let’s talk about the layout of the tower.

There are three levels to the tower. On the first level, there are some restaurants, a short film about the evolution of the Eiffel Tower and the new glass floor area that almost makes you feel like you’re walking on air.

On the second level, there is another restaurant and some souvenir stores. The third level is the summit of the tower, with a viewing deck, a champagne bar and a display of photos from the 19th century of the Eiffel Tower and its architect Gustave Eiffel. Views of Paris and beyond are spectacular. Take your camera.

There are two elevators within the tower; one serves the first and second levels and the other goes from the second to the third level. Some people choose to take the stairs to the second level as the queues are shorter and the ticket is cheaper. Fine, if you don’t mind over 600 steps!

Like most people, we took the two elevators to the top. Note that you can’t take stairs to the third level.

On the Eiffel Tower’s website, http://www.toureiffel.paris/en, you can book your tickets up to the second or third level.

TIP:

  • The third level tickets often sell out a long time ahead. If you know when you will be in Paris…book those tickets now. You can always buy tickets on line to the second level, then buy the third level ticket when you get there. But, who wants to stand in line if you don’t have to? Lines can be long…really long.

Whatever option you choose for ascending the tower, you are allowed to take the elevators down to the bottom after you are finished.

TIPS:

  • You will need to pick a time-slot for visiting the Eiffel Tower when buying your tickets online. This is just the time that you need to arrive – you can spend as much time in the tower as you like! Try to pick a slot for first thing in the morning, at lunch-time or towards the end of the day when there are fewer people.
  • Make sure you arrive on time, or several minutes ahead of your scheduled time. If you are late, you may not be allowed in.
  • It can get very windy and cold on the second and third levels of the Eiffel Tower, and you will most likely have to line up outside for the elevator from the second to the third level; so even if the weather seems perfect on the ground, bring a warm jacket or sweater.
  • If you plan to have lunch or dinner at one of the Eiffel Tower’s restaurants, make sure you book in advance, on the Eiffel Tower’s website, as there are often long queues for the restaurants.

 

Flying Alone?

Let’s say your grandchild wants to come visit you. Maybe you want to send your child to visit their grandparents.

Do you know what to do if your child or grandchild needs to fly somewhere alone?

You can get a Gate Pass. But, there are things you need to know.

Each airline has requirements for “unaccompanied minors.” Airlines may require you to use their special services for children flying solo. This depends on your child’s age and the additional fees may vary.

Another thing to keep in mind…not all flights are available for children traveling alone.

Many American carriers offer services for children designated solo fliers like select seats and airline escorts on and off the plane, and to connecting gates. Most airlines consider solo fliers from the ages of 5 to 15 as unaccompanied minors, though Southwest Airlines puts the upper limit at 11 and JetBlue Airways at 13. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines make the designation optional for children 15 to 17.

Additional fees for unaccompanied minors vary as well. It costs $25 each way for direct flights on Alaska and $50 for one-way itineraries involving connections. Southwest charges $50 a flight. On JetBlue, the service costs $100 one way, and American, Delta and United Airlines all charge $150 each way.

Different fees may apply to multiple children traveling together. For example, American Airlines only charges one unaccompanied minor fee for parties of two or more, and Delta charges one fee for up to four children traveling together.

For those fees, children are usually promised a seat close to the front of the plane. Airline agents will escort minors to their seats, again when they deplane, and to connecting gates.

Not all flights are available to children traveling alone. Many carriers limit younger children to nonstop or direct flights. Delta allows 8- to 14-year-olds to make connections, assisted by an employee. American Airlines allows connecting services, with an escort between flights, at several of its busier airports, including its hubs in Chicago, Dallas and New York.

For parents or grandparents, think about the child. Are they okay with flying? Are they okay with flying alone? Will they need any special attention? Flight attendants are not babysitters.

Parental Considerations

At the airport check-in desk, parents with government-issued identification can obtain a pass that allows them to escort the minor to the gate. Some airlines require them to stay at the airport until the plane has taken off, and most experts advise doing so in case the plane experiences a mechanical problem or delay and must return to the terminal.

At the arrival airport, most airlines will similarly issue a gate pass to the person designated to pick up the minor, allowing the person to meet the child at the arrival gate.

To better track unaccompanied minors, Delta has instituted a system that relies on bar-coded wristbands that are scanned at way points in the journey. The airline has said that it intends to make that data available to parents and custodians.

Experts recommend parents prepare children for flight as they would themselves, including sending them off with identification such as a birth certificate or a passport. Pack a water bottle to fill after passing through security; some form of entertainment, like books or a tablet computer with an extra battery booster; a fleece or sweater for chilly flights; and food.

Even consider sending equivalent of a school lunch.