Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paris, France snippets . . . Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower.  My camera battery gave out the evening we were atop the Arc de Triomphe so unfortunately I didn’t get any good shots of the Eiffel Tower in her evening gown (with lights).  However I did get two daytime photos that I liked.  This one in soft color that shows the whole tower and the one below that shows some of the ironwork closer up.  Our guide explained that the people hated the tower when it was first built.  A group of artists even petitioned the city to have it removed describing the Tower as looking like an “ugly iron smoke stack” complaining that it was so tall it took away from the beauty of the other attractions in the city.  The writer Guy du Maupassant would dine in the first level restaurant in order to avoid having to look at the tower. 

The public worried the tower would rust but mostly it was thought to be ugly and possibly dangerous since it was so tall.  The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world until 1931 when the Empire State Building was completed in New York City.  It was supposed to be torn down after the Universal Exhibition (World’s Fair) of 1889 of but by the end of the allotted time the people had changed their minds and the tower remains as one of the iconic symbols of Paris.  Mrs. Gimlet got a stunning night picture (see http://gimletblog.com/2012/04/25/france-2012-amuse-bouche-seven-super-shots?owa_medium=feed&owa_sid= ).

When we were there the elevator up to the first landing was being serviced and not in use.  There are 360 steps to get to the second elevator and over 1,600 steps if one were to climb all the way to the top and not use an elevator.  We did not have any takers for making the climb that day but I think some of the students may have gone back later on their free time. 

Eiffel Tower, close up  

The complex pattern of girders was necessary to stabilize the tower in high winds. There are two restaurants, one on the first level and the other on the second level.  Over 200 million people have visited the tower since it was built.  From “Eyewitness Travel, Paris” p. 195 some trivia facts:  “the tower is 1,065 feet tall including the antennae; the top can move in a curve of 7 inches under the effect of heat; there are 1,665 steps to the third level; 2.5 million rivets hold the tower together; the tower never sways more than 2.5 inches; the third or top level of the tower can hold 800 people at one time, the tower weighs 10,100 tons; and 60 tons of paint are used every seven years” to beautify and protect the structure from rust.  The Eiffel Tower was last painted in 2009-2010.  Our guide said it takes about 18 months to paint the tower.  The tower is lit at night plus there is a show of spectacular twinkling lights that lasts for 5 minutes and is repeated on the hour from dusk to midnight.  We saw it.  Like 4th of July fireworks here in the US, it perhaps has to be seen in person to get the full effect.  Thing One did take a short video of the sparking lights and there are several clips on YouTube such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTaq_MI6ey8.  Enjoy. 

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