Whilst we're at it, I have heard from sources unreliable
that the French
didn't particularly care for the iron monstrosity
gracing their capital for quite a long while after it was built. Apparently people used to say that the best spot in Paris
was the top of the tower, since it was the only place from which you couldn't see it.
This is not true, of course, you can look down :)
Either way, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time was my first visual tip that I was really in Europe. I'd seen pictures of it before of course, I'd been forced to study French in the first few years of highschool. Seeing the tower in all its glory was quite an experience.
I got over it quickly, however. A group of people and I walked up to the Arc De Triomphe which I found to be a far more impressive sight. Coming back though, it was dark and we experienced the unexpected sight of the tower lit up by hundreds of flickering lights. That made it look a lot more interesting.
(Incidentally, at the time we had stumbled across the infamous tunnel wherein Princess Diana and Dodi had met their unfortunate demise. You can see the tower across the Seine from there.)
That was my first time in Paris, and I didn't like the city enough at that time to really be bothered climbing the tower. I was also without my girlfriend and somehow it didn't seem like it would be the same in Paris without one's partner to do all the cliche things one does when one is a tourist.
So I simply walked back past the tower, past all the street vendors selling tacky miniature towers for about 5FRF and left for Munich the next day.
The third time I was in Paris I was with my girlfriend, and we did go up the tower. A few tips here. Firstly: jump queues. You'll wait forever otherwise, and it's almost expected of the French. Secondly: climb the tower at dusk. Paris by night from the top of the tower is a spectacular sight. Finally: walk down the stairs of the tower for the last two levels. You can catch the elevator, but don't. It's both quicker and a much better experience to walk down the stairs.