There is no doubt that throughout the controversies that plagued his project, Monsieur Eiffel had a brilliant idea. The Eiffel Tower has become not only an important monument to the city of Paris, but the most recognizable icon and symbol for France itself. Hitler had given orders to destroy it because of that symbolism, but thankfully those orders were never carried out. We have never been to Paris without feeling the inexplicable draw of the tower. It can be seen from just about anywhere, thanks to the relatively flat landscape of the city. At night it is lit up like a carnival concession and indeed there is a carnival atmosphere that surrounds it.
Tourists are drawn to it like moths to the flame and most of them want to make the ascent for a bird's eye view of the city. There are two ways to do this, you can stand in line for over an hour to take the elevator or you can choose to climb, which may take you about an hour to get to the 2nd level after you stop at the first level for one of many photo ops.
So what's it to be? If you look at the photo on the left, the line for the elevator is quite evident. If you look to the larger photo above it, at the very bottom of the frame, you can see that the line stretches across the entire base of the tower at approximately 8:30 a.m. on a weekday. Unless you intend to get up while it's still dark, the line ahead of you is going to be formidable. If you opt for the stairs, you can see from the photo to the right that your competition will be scarce.
For more earthbound family members or friends, keeping track of your ascent and descent might prove a good challenge, but it can be done.
If you have opted for the elevator and are traveling with children, perhaps your partner would hold your place in line while you amuse the children with a carousel ride or wander across the nearby bridge to look at boat traffic on the Seine.