Today, I’d like to welcome Christa (Hooked on Books) to the blog, who has written a guest post about the beautiful Eiffel Tower. And, if you were following along on Twitter while I was in Paris, you’ll know that this was the first place in Paris that really overwhelmed me. What a beautiful sight to see when it’s all lit up at night. As Christa describes her encounter with this iconic tower, it was basically the same thing for me… turned a corner, and there it was.
The Eiffel Tower
The first time I went to Europe, it was high school and I went as part of my high school’s French Exchange program. I stayed in Strasbourg, near the German border. From what I remember it was about a four hour train ride to Paris but I begged my host family to take me. They finally caved and on my second weekend there I found myself on a train to Paris.
The crazy part – to me – was that they had no idea what the big deal was about Paris. They thought it was funny that all of us North Americans were so infatuated with Paris. Despite all their skepticism I was in love with the city from the moment I stepped out of the train station. You have to remember I’m from a small town so any big city seemed impressive to me at the time but even I knew there was no place like Paris. At no point was this clearer to me than when I saw the Eiffel Tower.
Pictures of it are nice but they don’t compare to seeing it right before you. Not knowing it was coming, we turned a corner and it was directly in front of us. My breath caught in my throat and I was a little over whelmed by how gorgeous and impressive it was at that moment. We spent most of the day lounging in the park at the base, eating baguettes and cheese (yes, that is actually what they packed me for lunch) and later walked up and down the tower. If you’re able to, I totally recommend walking part of the tower, it is a unique and rewarding experience.
Now it’s 8 years later and the memory of that day continues to stick with me. If I ever get the chance to return to Paris it will be the first place I go. So when Michele asked me to write a guest post for Paris month I knew what I had to write about.
Some basic facts about the Eiffel Tower
- Built in 1889 as the entrance to the World Fair
- It’s 320 meters or 1,050 ft tall (that’s about the size of an 81 story building)
- The entire structure weighs about 10,000 tons
- The top floor was originally made up of some laboratories and an apartment for the creator Gustave Eiffel. This apartment is now open to the public and contains a lifelike model of Gustave and some guests.
- More than 200,000,000 people have visited the tower since its construction.
- In 1980s there was a secret plan to dismantle the tower and temporarily move it to Montreal. Wonder why that plan didn’t work out?
Want to know more?
I recently picked up the book Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled and Thomas Edison Became a Count by Jill Jonnes. It was an incredibly interesting read about the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the World Fair it was built for. I had no idea that so many famous historic figures were tied up in the early days of the tower – from Thomas Edison, to Vincent Van Gogh, to Annie Oakley.
I learned a lot of really interesting facts about the tower from this book. For instance, it was part of a competition to determine what building would be the flagship for the World’s Fair. It competed against such ideas as a giant water sprinkler and a giant wooden guillotine.