This summer I had the chance to take my kids to Paris for the first time and explore the City of Lights through their eyes. One of our must-dos while visiting the city: the Eiffel Tower. It had been over a decade since my last visit to the tower and some things had definitely changed - or at least, I had forgotten them! Today, I'm sharing my tips and tricks for successfully taking kids to the Eiffel Tower.
Make a reservation. Did you know you can make a ticket reservation online for the Eiffel Tower? I wish I had known. Instead, after waiting in the outside security checkpoint for 20 minutes, we got in the ticket line and then in the elevator line. All in all, it was over an hour of waiting in lines - not an ideal intro for my three boys to the Eiffel Tower who were hot and grumpy by the time we finally made it up. Online tickets can only be purchased for elevator entrance (not the stairs entrance) and you have to select an entrance time, but it can be a huge time saver for skipping the entrance lines. You can also cut down on your wait time by visiting during one of the tower's off-peak times - January, February, March, November and December.
Bring your own snacks (but leave beverages at home). To keep kids happy and distracted, it's smart to pack some snacks for your Eiffel Tower visit. But one thing to skip? Bringing in beverages. Granted we were at the Eiffel Tower while the EuroCup was in town, but there were additional security checkpoints set up outside of the Eiffel Tower ticket lines that were checking bags and making visitors toss any liquid or beverages. Pack pocket snacks but buy your water at the tower.
"Follow Gus" to keep kids engaged. What color was the Tower when it first opened? How often is it repainted? What is the name of the river which flows past the foot of the Tower? You can keep your kids engaged and entertained during their visit to the Eiffel Tower with a "Follow Gus" activity book. Located in the Ferrié pavilion on the first floor (or you can print it off yourself here), kids age 6-10 can pick up a bilingual French-English activity booklet that challenges them with scavenger hunts, word searches, mazes and more all the while teaching them about the Eiffel Tower. Look for the Gus signs through the first floor to guide kids through each stage of the tour.
Plan out your bathroom breaks. My kids always seem to need to go to the bathroom when we are the farthest away from any - and this can be a looong distance at the Eiffel Tower. Between three floors and 1,665 steps, you'll want to plan your bathroom breaks and use them when you see them.
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Reward them with lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel. Whether your kids made it up all 1,665 steps to the top or just avoided arguing for the last 15 minutes (ha!), you can reward the whole family for a visit well done by grabbing lunch at the panoramic le 58 tour Eiffel. Located on the first floor of the tower, 58 Tour Eiffel offers gorgeous views of Paris and a "chic picnic" lunch delivered to your table in a basket. For €41 for adults and €19 for kids, you get an elevator ticket to the first floor of the tower, a three course lunch (starter, main and dessert) and an included glass of wine, beer or soft drink. Though dinner at 58 is more formal, the lunch crowd is casual and family-friendly for all ages. While you don't need a reservation, the restaurant does offer them at 12 and 1:30. Be sure to note the separate entrance line at the security checkpoint for people with lunch reservations.
Download the app. For tweens and teens, avoid the inevitable eye roll from asking them to come read one more placard by giving them each their own personal audio tour with the Eiffel Tower Official Visitor Guide app. Download the free app onto your smartphone or tablet and listen as it points out highlights through out the tower with nearly 30 different recordings about the tower's construction, illuminations, elevators, sporting events and more. The app also has four different interactive maps, more than 70 documents and pictures documenting the tower's history and a hi-def 360° panorama view option. It's a great way to keep older kids engaged and learning about the tower while still giving them some autonomy.
Momtrends was not paid for this post. We did receive one complimentary access to the tower and lunch. Opinions are my own. Photos of 58 Tour Eiffel courtesy of the restaurant.