Terra: The Eiffel Tower – Paris, France
When I first traveled to Paris, France in 2012 with a group of fellow students, my friend Kira asked our tour guide a question that both humored me and got me thinking.
“How much would it cost to buy the Eiffel tower?”
Anne Marie, our tour guide, paused for a moment, slightly caught off guard, and then responded in a dainty French accent, her “that” sounding more like “zat”, and her emphasis being on the vowels rather than the consonants.
“I do not think that France would sell it.”
We were, in fact, standing just in front of the steel ribbed giant when Kira asked her question, and I for one, was star struck.
Star struck, I believe was an appropriate mood, because that’s exactly what the Eiffel tower, or la Tour Eiffel, is one of the many star edifices of Paris.
The Eiffel tower was designed by the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, in 1889 for the World’s fair, as Anne Marie made sure to inform us. Its construction was in fact, widely debated by many artists of its time, who deemed it “too ugly” for the city. After a while of standing there in awe and listening to her list off more historical facts about what was once the tallest man-made structure in the world, the group was led to a line where we’d wait to be taken up the tower by elevator.
There are two options that one who wants to reach the second floor of the Eiffel Tower has- You can either ride up one of its arched legs in an elevator like we did, or climb the stairs. The elevator ride was an interesting one; partially because you can watch the people and buildings get smaller as you’re lifted higher and higher from the ground. It was also interesting because of the variety of people you see and languages you hear during the ascent. People with all kinds of different backgrounds visit the Eiffel tower- French, British, American, Chinese…
When we finally reached the second floor, everyone stepped from the elevator onto the platform, and began gravitating toward the cross hatched fencing that was the only thing separating us from an ocean of city light below. At such a height, it appeared to be a vast collection of figurines in the midnight abyss, the Seine River running through it all like a jagged snake. To think that men worked at this level and even higher in the process of construction amazed me.
After a while of watching the view, I caught up with some other members of my group, who said they had already been to the third and top floor, and that now, it was time to leave! To get to the top floor, it’s necessary to take a separate elevator from the second, which I missed my chance to do, because I’d been so mesmerized by the scene.
If I had been able to reach the top floor, I would have found myself at the same level as Gustave Eiffel’s private apartment. I would have been able to see the beauty of Paris from even higher up, as well. However, even though I only got to the second floor, it was enough for me to agree with Anne-Marie that it would indeed be a smart decision on the part of France to hold on to their Tower.
Marcella Del Plato
The LEAF Project
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