Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Tour d’Eiffel, 7e Arrondissement

We’re all familiar with the Eiffel Tower and chances are that if you’re heading to Paris you’ll end up there, so I probably don’t need to go into all too much detail. I’d say that both the tower and the view are best at night when the city is lit up and there are fewer crowds and queues. If possible, also go when the sky is clear, as fog will dramatically reduce visibility, especially as you ascend to the top. The tower itself lights up on the hour, so try to be outside and looking at it from a short distance around this time.

Eiffel Tower Summit Paris

Tour d’Eiffel (Sommet), 7e Arrondissement

Bear in mind that there are various types of tickets available, so prepare yourself for the ticket desk. Your ticket will determine whether you use the stairs or the elevator and whether you have access to the first and second floor, or both of these floors and the summit. Always opt for the elevator. The stair tickets may be cheaper but anyone who lacks the thighs of a stallion will deeply regret skimping out. People tend to choose the stairs thinking they’ll be able to take in more of a view, but in reality you’ll be much more focused on catching your breath, wondering how much further it is until the next level and questioning why you thought this would be enjoyable when you actively avoid physical exertion in pretty much every other aspect of your life. Accept your sedentary lifestyle and spend your time on each level marvelling at the view rather than cursing the people who will undoubtedly be taking up space on any available seating. I’d also recommend paying the extra few euros for the ticket to the summit. If you’ve already come this far, you should invest in a view from the top. If you’re 24 or under (or, like me, look young for your age and don’t mind telling a white lie about it) your ticket will be half price.

 

Eiffel Tower Esplanade Paris

Tour d’Eiffel (Esplanade), 7e Arrondissement

If you’re planning on a hackneyed engagement, there’s a champagne bar at the summit. It WILL be windy (and not in the carefully curated photoshoot kind of way), so hold onto that engagement ring, because if it goes over the edge you’re not getting it back. Otherwise, there are food and drink outlets on the esplanade, first and second levels where you can grab a little something to tide you over while you’re up the tower.

The Eiffel Tower is located on Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France. Any taxi driver will know where it is. Alternatively, the nearest Metro is Bir-Hakeim (line 6) or the nearest RER is Champ-de-Mars – Tour Eiffel (line C).

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Shakespeare and Company, 4e Arrondissement

If you’re into modernist and Beat literature, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore has a lot to live up to. The original version of the store was opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919. Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy and Gertrude Stein all passed through its doors. While this version was closed during World War II and a second was set up by George Whitman, I’d still visit in the same way that people visit the Cavern Club despite it merely being a reproduction of the original. But the second store was frequented by a whole other host of later writers I admire too – Alan Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Anaïs Nin and James Baldwin – supplying it with enough name drops to secure it status in its own right. If this wasn’t enough to make me romanticise the shop, the fact that they offer almost-free accommodation to aspiring writers in exchange for a few hours of daily work in the store has raised it even higher in my esteem. We all know that having high expectations of a place before visiting can end in disappointment and for a brief moment, Shakespeare and Company did. At the end of the day, you need to remember that it’s a small bookstore operating in a prime location in one of the world’s most expensive cities. If they sold well-loved second hand copies of niche works at a low price they’d surely sink into debt. So bear in mind that the majority of the works you’re going to see in there are going to be brand new standard copies of major works at about double the price you’d be able to find the book for online. Also bear in mind that you’re not going to get any French books in there, all works that I saw were in English. If you imagine the contents of Waterstones with a few pounds added to the price tag arranged into a quaint independent bookstore, that’s what you’re going to get. It’s as pretty as any other independent bookstore, with ladders to reach the higher shelves and what appeared to be a resident cat, but unless you’re genuinely planning to land yourself a free room as a tumbleweed guest or have a day to spend lounging about in one of the reading rooms, try to avoid romanticising it to the extent that most do and appreciate it for its history.

Shakespeare and Company is located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie in Paris’ 4th Arrondissement. If you stand with your back to Notre Dame, it’s across the road on the left.