France is the world's most visited country. Its capital, Paris, is known as The City of Love, and apart from the romance it offers, it is arguably home to the best art, bread, coffee and wine in the world. It is also crammed with well-known landmarks and is a good city to see on foot, but the public transport combination of trains and buses is a very efficient alternative.
The most recognisable of Paris' landmarks is the Eiffel Tower. It opened in 1889 after more than two years of construction, and at 312 metres was the world's tallest building until the Chrysler Building in New York took the title at 319 metres. An antenna was added in 1957 taking its height to 320 metres and recent work has taken it to 342 metres. The tower has 1665 steps, but there is a lift if you don't feel up to walking.
When the Eiffel Tower was proposed for the 1889 World Fair, Paris' artistic and literary elite vehemently opposed it. However, the tower was built, and while it was almost ripped down in 1909, its lacy beauty captured the hearts of the Parisians and it's impossible to picture the city without it now.
It is lit from sunset to 1am each day, and lights glitter for 10 minutes each hour. A perfect view of the Tower can be had from the Trocodero on the opposite side of the Seine. It opens at around 9am and it is strongly advisable to go there early queues are very long and slow and if the standing doesn't get to you, maybe the throngs of hawkers will.
Paris, the capital of France
A trip to the top level of the Eiffel Tower costs around $15, or you can walk to the second level for around $5.
For further information
Maison de la France
(French Government Tourist Office)
Ph: (02) 9231 5244
Fax: (02) 9221 8682