As a novice traveler, I was rather – how should I put this – ravenous in devouring the new experiences in a city. Suddenly, money is no longer a concern as long as I get to do EVERYTHING the city has to offer. Silly, I know! I religiously abode by the “you are here, so you might as well do it” attitude, which, suffice it to say, is not the wisest advice to follow (that is, except for Gaudi in Barcelona – you ALWAYS visit all of Gaudi’s works!). Needless to say, I spent a significant amount of money for entrance and/or climbing fees during my first trip abroad. And as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I climbed to the top of both the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. I know, I should have added Notre-Dame and Sacre-Coeur while at it, huh?
Since I already made the mistake of spending money unnecessarily, I’m going to share my experiences with you and hopefully it’ll help you decide which one to go up to. That way, you don’t have to make the same mistake I did. Unless, of course, you have money to spare. Actually, even so, I’d suggest you spend the extra Euros on macarons or other french pastries!
La Tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower)
Metro: Champ de Mars/Tour Eiffel or Ecole Militaire or Bir-Hakeim
I really have nothing to say about La Tour Eiffel except this: It’s probably the most-famous landmark in the world, so GO!
Arc de Triomphe
Metro: Charles de Gaule-Etoile
Built between 1806 and 1836, the arch serves to commemorate the bravery of those who fought for France in the Napoleonic Wars. Underneath its vault sits the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and the Memorial Flame, the first of its kind in Europe.
Located at the western end of Champ-Elysees, the monument is built in the middle of the converging point of 12 very busy avenues in Paris, making it one of the busiest round-abouts I’ve ever encountered (see picture above). You CANNOT jay-walk this and I advise you to not even try it. The view from the top, though, is definitely much better than the one seen from the Eiffel Tower.
If you want to hit 2 birds with 1 stone, I suggest you get off 2 stops earlier at Palais Royal/Musee du Louvre and walk down Champ-Elysees. It’s not a very far walk and you’ll have lots of things to entertain you along the way. Plus you’ll get amazing views of the arch as you approach it.
Also, this is the chance to grab an authentic Parisian crepe from one of the stands that are ubiquitous throughout Paris. Take note, though, Parisians don’t EVER walk and eat at the same time. So, make sure you sit at the nearest bench while eating your crepes lest you risk being stared at (true story!).