Crowds, queues, heat, cost, frustration, heights, wind, blocked ears.
Have I put you off visiting the Eiffel Tower with kids?
If not, please continue reading.
Experiencing the Eiffel Tower with kids can either be a complete nightmare or smooth sailing. The difference is in the planning and preparation beforehand.
And I’m here to help you with that!
Eiffel Tower With Kids: What You Must Know
My first advice is to decide how you will experience the Eiffel Tower.
From A Distance
Trust me, just being able to see the Eiffel Tower from certain vantage points in Paris can be satisfying enough for many. I took Miss 11 and Miss 7 for a walk on our first evening in Paris to the Pantheon. We walked up the hilly street to the building, we turned around and this is what we saw in the distance:
“Oh, that’s so cool mum!” was the response.
Another suggested place for a nice view of the Eiffel Tower would be the restaurant at the Pullman Hotel. Step out onto the balcony and this is the view you will get:
We also played “spot the Eiffel Tower” in various other places (such as the Tuileries Gardens):
If you’re wanting to get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the evening or at night, I’d recommend a boat cruise along the River Seine, which we did. We had excellent views:
Tip: if your kids are older and can stay up late, I’d recommend a tour at night time when the Eiffel Tower is lit up and sparkling. You may need to wait until the last boat tour for the city to be lit up at night- it departs at 11pm in the summertime and 10pm in Spring/Autumn.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower
By our 4th day in Paris, Miss 7 was upset that we had not yet been to the Eiffel Tower and for her, seeing it from a distance was like teasing her. It was a Saturday morning and being the weekend, I was certain the queue to go up the tower would be extremely long but we decided to give it a try. We arrived there at 10am and the queue was about 1km long. We decided that we would not climb the tower on this occasion, but would just enjoy looking at it and taking some photos, like this one:
If visiting the Eiffel Tower is enough for your family and you don’t care for going up the tower, for a day visit I would recommend packing a picnic lunch and sitting in the Champ des Mars. If you are visiting Paris at the end of May/start of June during the French Open tennis championship, there are television screens in the Champ des Mars. They also hang a giant tennis ball in the tower.
For an evening or night time visit, I’d recommend trying to hang around until the tower is lit up and sparkling (it sparkles every hour). Look for the nearby carousel which is a fun way to keep the kids occupied while waiting for that magical sparkling moment. There are also food stalls if the kids are hungry for a snack (but the prices are a bit too much for my liking).
Going up the Eiffel Tower
You’ve travelled all this way, you might as well go up the Eiffel Tower. After all, not everyone gets the chance to do this, yeah?
There are tours that take you up the Eiffel Tower, but these are usually combined with a walking tour as well and can last as long as 2 hours. Being a family with young kids, I didn’t think this would be a good option for us.
Safety And Security
Over the past couple of years, the Eiffel Tower has been notorious for being a prime location for pick pocket rings. In fact, on May 23rd this year, Eiffel Tower staff went on strike and closed the icon for the day as they were frustrated with the lack of policing of the tower. Pick pockets have been known to purchase tickets themselves and go up the tower to pick pocket tourists!
A week before our family went up the tower, the police had busted the major pick pocketing ring operating around the tower (read more about that HERE).
While we were there, we noticed a strong police presence and felt quite safe because of this. There was one petition girl we saw who had conned a family into signing. Other than that, no other hassles. There are, of course, many people selling souvenirs and selfie sticks around the area, and they are a bit pushy. You can buy these souvenirs at much cheaper prices all over Paris!
Tips When Going Up The Eiffel Tower
As soon as you book your trip to Paris, go to the Eiffel Tower WEBSITE and see if you can book your tickets online. If you have purchased an online ticket, then you do not need to wait in the ticket line.
The online tickets are sold out sometimes months in advance, especially for the peak season, but don’t despair if you can’t buy one. It just means it’s time to revert to plan B- waiting in line like everyone else!
I’ll be straight forward with you: if you are visiting Paris in August, try not to go up the Eiffel Tower on a weekend, unless you have a few hours to spare, or you are conducting an experiment on how long kids can stay sane in a queue. August is the busiest tourist month of the year as most of Europe is on vacation.
When we went to “see” the Eiffel Tower, it was around 9.30am on the first Saturday in June. The queue was already about 1km long. I didn’t want to waste a morning queuing that we could have spent visiting other places, so we took some fun tourist photos and then left.
In most cases you would be better off going on a weekday, and trying to arrive before the tower opens. You will still have to queue but (hopefully) not for too long. And kids are more refreshed and energetic in the morning. Friends of ours did this and they waited about 45 minutes before going up.
We returned to the Eiffel Tower on the Sunday evening at around 9.30pm. The queues were shorter, and as this was the last chance we would get going up the tower (we were leaving Tuesday morning and I had a walking tour booked for the Monday night), we decided to stay and queue. We waited about 45 minutes to get to the ticket booth.
You can choose to buy a ticket to get to the 2nd floor only or to the top floor. You can also choose to walk up to the 2nd floor and then get a lift to the top, but there are about 700 steps. Not suitable for kids!
Once you have purchased your tickets, you then make your way to the lift. You’ll need to wait probably around ten minutes for the lift to come down. The lift get very crowded, so beware if you are claustrophobic! The lift takes you to the second floor where you disembark. Those with a ticket for the 2nd floor only, stay on this floor- you can walk around and there is a gift shop and restaurant (which I have heard is quite good but expensive).
Those with a ticket to the top floor need to get in queue for the next lift. There is a separate lift that takes you to the top floor. We waited about 20 minutes in the queue for this lift, and it was here that the kids started getting a little frustrated.
After about 20 minutes we made our way to the top. The view was spectacular as we got there just on sunset, and so the city was starting to light up. It was very windy and really cold so I would recommend wearing warm clothing. If you’re planning on taking photos of your family, I’d also recommend making sure the kids hair is tied back!
You can spend as long as you like walking around the top floor. You can even peak into the apartment that Gustav Eiffel built for himself to host small gatherings. We only spent about 10 minutes on the top floor as the kids had enough and it was too cold for them.
Making our way down didn’t take as long. We waited only about 5 minutes for the lift on the top floor and the second floor.
By the time we were back on the ground, it was 10.50pm. So the whole process from arriving at the Eiffel Tower to going up and coming back down took about 90 minutes. The tower was well and truly lit up by now!
It was perfect timing, really. We walked over to the carousel where the kids had just begun their ride when right on 11pm, the Eiffel Tower started sparkling.
And the crowd was impressed, judging by the “oh wow” reactions and cheers. Even my husband, who didn’t really care for the Eiffel Tower, admitted that it looked pretty impressive. It was worth queuing up for!
- Decide whether you want to see the Eiffel Tower from a distance, visit it during the day or evening, or actually go up the tower.
- From a distance: you can view the Eiffel Tower from many locations such as the Pullman Hotel, the Tuileries Gardens, from the Pantheon or an evening cruise along the Seine.
- If you just want to visit the Eiffel Tower, pack a picnic lunch for a day visit or spend the evening admiring the sparkling lights.
- If you decide to go up the tower, decide whether you want to walk to the 2nd floor only, walk to the 2nd floor and then lift to the top, or a lift from the bottom all the way to the top. Or you may wish to book a tour.
- Buy your tickets online as soon as possible. If sold out, don’t stress.
- Don’t visit on a weekend if possible (esp in summer). Get there early if going up during the day.
- Pack some snacks and drinks and maybe electronic devices, to keep the kids occupied while queuing.
- Be mindful of your safety- there are pick pockets both at the base of the Eiffel Tower and also operating within the tower. There are sometimes petition girls at the base who try to con you into signing a petition (before trying to either demand cash donations or else someone may try to pickpocket you while signing the petition!).
- Dress in warm clothing and make sure hair is tied back for photos.
- Have a ride of the carousel!
- Most importantly, enjoy the moment and take lots of photos!
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Let me know about your experiences. Are there any other tips you would add to mine?