The Best Approach to the Nighttime Eiffel Tower

Last Wednesday, we had an overnight layover at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and decided to visit the Eiffel Tower for a photography class assignment. We took the RER B light rail  train for a 50 minute ride from Terminal 2 of the airport to Paris’s Denfert-Rochereau station, switched to Line 6 of the Metro towards Charles de Gaulle – Étoile (“Étoile”), and exited at the Trocadéro stop about 15 minutes after the switch (a lot of information but useful if a reader wants to do this, too). This excursion cost 20 euros ($22.50 USD) per person (round trip including Metro), which seemed to us like the cheapest trip to Paris we could take.

There is no bad way to approach the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but there is a best way. That is to start from the Palais de Chaillot, walk through the Jardins du Trocadéro, cross the Pont d’Iéna (“Jena Bridge”) and finally reach the base of the tower. This is a magnificent walk during the day and even more impressive after dark — Paris is the city of light. The photos below show the Eiffel Tower from various vantage points on our walk.

Exiting the Trocadéro metro stop, we round the corner of the Palais de Chaillot for our first view of the Tower. Here we see some statuary beside the Palais de Chaillot with the Tower’s on-the-hour light show visible beyond.

Exiting the metro

Walking down the first set of steps from the Palais de Chaillot, looking over the Jardins du Trocadéro, we see the Tower more completely.

Below the Palais de Chaillot

Continuing down the second set of steps, we see the statue of the seated woman who has watched over the Eiffel Tower for many years. The blue search lights from the top of the Tower can be seen in this time-lapse photo. The blue arc of light is the trail of a flying toy being demonstrated by one of the many souvenir sellers in this area.

Seated Woman

Waiting to cross the street, we photograph cars on the Avenue de New York as they enter and leave the Pont d’Iéna.

At the Pont d’Iéna

Once on the other side of the Avenue de New York, we set the camera for a time-lapse view of the Seine beneath Pont d’Iéna, reflecting the lights of the bridge and Eiffel Tower.

From across the Seine

Crossing the Pont d’Iéna, we see a horse sculpture sitting atop a pylon (Arab Warrior by Jean-Jacques Feuchère).

Horse Statue on the Pont d’Iéna

Finally across the Pont d’Iéna and Quai Branley, we look up at the Eiffel Tower from near its base.

At the Base of the Eiffel Tower

On past trips, we have walked under the Tower. Unfortunately, since the terrorist attacks, a rather ugly makeshift security barrier has been added around the base of the Tower and we decided to forgo the security search needed to enter the area under the base. (A few weeks earlier, we had entered through security from the Champ de Mars side. The only positive effect we saw was that the trinket sellers were absent inside the secure area.) By setting up a tripod beside the barriers, we did get some scrutiny from a uniformed guard, but he did not question or approach us.

Finally, we leave you with a short video of the Eiffel Tower light show.

We hope you have enjoyed this nighttime visit to the Eiffel Tower. We will be posting more pictures and stories from our earlier September stay in Paris.