Gustave Eiffel endowed Paris with one of the most famous landmarks in the world: the Eiffel Tower. The building was supposed to be there for the whole world, but Eiffel wanted to keep a piece of his triumph for himself: at the top of the tower, the engineer set up a luxurious mini-apartment to which only he and his closest confidants had access.
Whether admired in its everyday steel guise or bathed in golden light at night, the Eiffel Tower is still Paris’ most recognizable landmark. But it not only characterizes the cityscape of the French capital, from above you have a fantastic view of the same.
However, if a visitor takes the elevator to the viewing platform, it is not quite as romantic as one might think: the panorama of Paris is blocked by a massive thicket of selfie sticks.
If only you had the Eiffel Tower to yourself! Engineer Gustave Eiffel thought the same thing. The famous creator and namesake of the tower had his own private apartment set up near the top. At 285 meters altitude!
The mini apartment in the Eiffel Tower
The inventory of the small apartment, consisting of two rooms that merge into one another, contrasted with the modern construction: Eiffel wanted it to be cozy inside and furnished the apartment with fine wooden furniture, a valuable carpet and even a piano. The walls were covered in oriental paisley wallpaper, which was hung with expensive oil paintings.
For some time now, three wax figures have been on display in Gustave Eiffel’s private apartment in the Eiffel Tower, depicting the engineer himself, his daughter and the famous inventor Thomas Edison.
Many have asked to stay at the Eiffel Tower Apartment
According to the French writer Henri Girard, rumors of Eiffel’s private residence in the Eiffel Tower soon made the rounds in the finest circles in France. In his book “La Tour Eiffel de Trois Cent Métres”, Girard tells how dozens of letters soon started pouring into Eiffel’s office: Celebrities and rich Parisians offered him “a small fortune” to be allowed to sleep in the apartment for a night. But Eiffel turned down every offer. He didn’t want the apartment to become a tourist attraction. Instead, he was mostly alone there. Only occasionally did he invite his family and selected guests, such as the American inventor Thomas Edison.
Apartment in the Eiffel Tower is also open to tourists
Since 2015, whether Eiffel likes it or not, tourists have been able to re-enter the premises, long forgotten due to their exclusivity: the mini-apartment has been reconstructed and furnished exactly as it was in the engineer’s time.
Three specially made wax figures also testify to this: They show Eiffel himself in conversation with Thomas Edison, who is giving him a gramophone he invented. Behind it stands elegantly but quietly in the background, Eiffel’s daughter Claire.
14 things to avoid in Paris
Anyone who visits a metropolis like London, Rome or Paris for the first time not only asks himself which highlights must be on the program, but also what it is better to avoid in the respective city. In the forums on Tripadvisor you will find very good tips from holidaymakers for many travel destinations. Here’s a selection of things Paris tourists should skip.
1. Never be overly casual with French people you meet for the first time. And don’t greet her with two kisses. In France, people value cultivated manners and a serious distance at the first meeting.
2. Don’t speak to French people in English straight away! Many still find this impolite. Would you rather try: Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais? (in German: Excuse me, do you speak English?)
3. Don’t look at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre from just one direction. From some angles, the uniquely smiling woman sometimes appears serious. Only those who look at it from all perspectives can fully enjoy this work of art.
4. Don’t buy bottled water! The so-called Wallace Fountain can be found in many places in Paris. The Englishman Richard Wallace had dozens of them set up from 1872 – as a gift to the poor. Water of drinking quality still flows from them today.
5. Don’t eat on the big streets or in the well-known places. Prices are always higher here, and the best food is usually a few blocks away anyway. Tip: Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement is full of excellent places to eat. There, in the Au P’tit Grec, you can also find the supposedly best crêpes in Paris.
6. Don’t just sit down at the table in the restaurant! You should wait for the waiter to assign you a seat.
7. Don’t order bottled water at the restaurant —unless you want sparkling water. If you want still water, simply order un verre d’eau , une carafe d’eau or quite simply: de l’eau .
8. When visiting the Montmartre district, don’t just limit yourself to the Sacré Coeur or the Place du Tertre. There is a lot to admire in one of the most beautiful parts of Paris. Stroll through the alleys and streets, such as the Rue des Abbesses or the Rue Lepic. The latter also houses the Café des Deux Moulins, known from the film “The Fabulous World of Amélie”.
9. Don’t let a bad painter paint your portrait in Montmartre. Some are just trying to make a quick buck with a few doodles. In the end, you will look exactly the same in the picture as the passer-by in front of or after you. Ask in the cafés or restaurants for the good painters!
10. Don’t take the stairs in Abbesses metro station unless you want to exercise. Abbesses is in one of the lowest stations in Paris.
11. Don’t visit Versailles without seeing Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette first. The film with Kirsten Dunst helps to better understand everyday palace life at the end of the 18th century. When in Versailles, be sure to visit the Hameau de la Reine, a small village built specifically for Marie Antoinette.
12. Don’t buy the tickets for the main attractions on the day of the visit. Anyone who secures their tickets online in advance saves a lot of waiting time.
13. Don’t drive in Paris! Like every big city, the city of love has its own traffic laws – and things can get very spirited. If you still drive around Paris by car…
14. …then don’t park with the handbrake on. Some drivers literally “push” themselves into a parking space. Some say it’s just a rumor. But don’t risk it – unless you’re parking on the mountain.
10 practical savings tips for Paris
Right now, for the European Championship, many are taking the opportunity for a short trip to Paris. However, a stay in the French city can sometimes be quite expensive. However, if you heed a few tips, you can definitely save a few euros
Paris can be quite expensive for vacationers. Even little things like a coffee can cost up to 5 euros here. Added to this are the relatively high costs of food, transport, accommodation and museums. Couples and families can quickly get rid of more than 1000 euros, even on a short trip.
Apparently, the tourist office in the French capital has also recognized that the prices have a deterrent effect on many – and are therefore giving some tips on how Paris vacationers can save.
Museums, theaters, cabaret
1. Free in 14 museums
The permanent exhibitions in the 14 municipal museums are free of charge. These include Victor Hugo’s house on the Place des Vosges, as well as the Musée Carnavalet, which shows the history of Paris in a city palace in the Marais district, and the Municipal Museum of Modern Art.
2nd Louvre free on the 1st Sunday of the month (between October and March)
According to Michael Neubauer, author of the book “Fettnäpfchenführer Paris”, anyone who catches the first Sunday of the month during their stay even has free access to many national museums – and can, for example, go to the Louvre (normal price: 15 euros), where the famous Mona Lisa hangs. The only catch: the regulation with the free first Sunday of the month does not apply between April and September, when a particularly large number of tourists flock to Paris.
3. Save money and time with the museum pass
But even in these months there is a way to get to the exhibitions relatively cheaply, namely with the museum pass. The pass is available for two, four or six days from 42 euros. “You can use an extra entrance and avoid queuing,” explains Neubauer.
4. Buy theater tickets on the day of the performance
If you want to go to a theater or a cabaret instead, the tourist office has another tip: go to one of the three kiosks where tickets are sold cheaper on the day of the performance. They are on the Madeleine, in front of the Montparnasse train station and on the Place des Ternes, i.e. wherever there is a lot to see anyway. At the Bastille Opera, standing room for 32 is available for five euros every evening an hour and a half before the performance.
5. Don’t dine near attractions
The same applies to Paris as to all popular travel destinations: you should avoid cafes, ice cream parlors, restaurants and bars in the immediate vicinity of famous sights if you want to get away cheaply. Michael Neubauer also points out this common trick: “Just don’t stop right next to the Louvre, but walk a few streets further.” It’ll be cheaper then. And if you just want a coffee, you shouldn’t sit down at a table. It costs less when drunk at the bar.
6. Gourmet cuisine at a bargain price in the gastronomy school
In view of the rather hefty prices, many vacationers refrain from going to the restaurant and often limit themselves to snacks and fast food. A good meal in Paris is just as much a part of the program as a visit to the Eiffel Tower. You can save money by reserving a table at a gastronomy school instead of going to a normal restaurant. This is where the next generation of cooks is trained. The chefs of the future learned in schools how to prepare sophisticated recipes “worthy of a starred restaurant,” according to the tourism office. The price for such a meal at a beautifully set table is between 15 and 30 euros. The glass of wine is often included at cost price.
7. Holiday apartment instead of a hotel
Hotel rooms in Paris are not exactly cheap. According to the Hotel Price Radar of the HRS portal, the average price was 138 euros per night last year. Holiday apartments are a cheap alternative to hotels, especially for families and small groups. “In private apartments there is almost always a kitchen where you can have a croissant and coffee in the morning or prepare a cozy dinner in the evening,” explains Denise Urbach, publisher of the online travel guide HelpTourists and German travel guide in Paris.
8. Sleeping at the campsite
If you prefer something more rustic, you can also camp in Paris at the Indigo campsite, which has just been renovated. The facility is located in the Bois de Boulogne on the Seine and offers rental bikes for going downtown. “Anyone who wants to spend the night in a wooden cottage for four will pay between 94 and 146 euros,” calculates Urbach.
Get from A to B cheaply
9. The cheap weekly pass Navigo Découverte
Denise Urbach recommends the Navigo Découverte weekly pass for getting around Paris. For a comparatively cheap 21.25 euros (plus a one-off fee of 5 euros for the card), Paris vacationers can drive through tariff zones one to five – this even includes airport transfers and trips to Versailles and Disneyland. Small drawback: The weekly pass Navigo Découverte is not valid for a whole weekend. If you want to buy the pass, you need a passport photo.
10. Regular instead of tourist bus
Paris visitors can definitely do without the expensive tourist buses, because there are many regular buses that pass the sights anyway and only cost the price of a normal bus ticket. Michael Neubauer recommends lines 21, 30, 69, 73, 87, 95 and 96.
The 30 goes to Anvers station, not far from the steps to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. And those who climb it will be rewarded with a view of Paris that is just as beautiful as that from the Eiffel Tower – and it’s free.