Traveling with children can be challenging, particularly if you have several who have different interests and variable levels of tolerance for standing in line! But if this is your first time in Paris, then it’s likely that the Eiffel Tower will be the one thing all your kids will agree they want to visit.
However, with 7 million people a year visiting what is arguably the world’s most famous monument, you’ll understand it’s unwise to just show up, expecting to be able to quickly buy a ticket and go to the top. Some families try and end up frustrated because the lines are so long.
Far better, particularly if you come during spring break when it can still be cold, to book a tour. There are discounted rates for kids, and this way, you’ll know exactly what day and at what time you’ll be visiting the Eiffel Tower.
Here are some tips for how to visit the Eiffel Tower with kids, based on my own visit and what I’ve learned from years of living in Paris.
Preparing for your visit with kids
You’ll most likely spend at least two hours at the monument. Here are a few ideas to keep your family fed, watered and entertained while they’re there:
- Bring a selection of French yummies, bought from a bakery beforehand, and refuel as needed on the way up.
- Fill reusable bottles with water or juice. Don’t bring cans or glass bottles because they’ll be confiscated by security.
- There are free toilets on every floor, so no worries if one of your children has a pressing need.
- There are also baby-changing facilities on the ground, first, and second floors, but not at the summit.
- Encourage your kids to find out whatever they can about Gustave Eiffel and his tower in the weeks before your trip.
- Have them write out a list of questions to ask the tour guide. Their curiosity will be piqued, and they’ll be all the more interested when they visit.
If your kids (or you) are fearful of heights, you may want to take the elevator instead of the stairs. The second floor is spacious, and the viewing area has barriers that separate you from the edge. You can also spend time away from the views, browsing the souvenirs.
Local tip: Travel light. There are no lockers and nowhere to leave a stroller. You can take a foldable stroller, but if your child is small enough to need one, I suggest you carry them in a backpack carrier instead.
Unfortunately, the free “Eiffel Tower Kids” interactive tour on the first floor designed to help your children learn about the history of the Iron Lady (as the tower is known in France) is currently closed because of construction work.
Climbing the Eiffel Tower with kids
If you’ve opted for the climbing tour, don’t worry that your kids will find it too tiring. Our tours go at a leisurely pace with plenty of breaks during which your family can ask the guide anything about the tower and its history, surroundings, and secrets.
We stop at the first floor, which makes a nice break. And the steps are full metal with risers between each one so you can’t see through to the ground below, but you can notice the beautiful views as you climb! There are also handrails on both sides.
You might be surprised to find your children climb the tower faster than you.
- 347 steps from the ground floor to the first floor
- 327 steps from the first floor to the second floor
So that makes 674 steps in all from the ground floor to the second floor (and then you take an elevator to the summit at the top). The steps are quite shallow and wide, perfect for short little legs.
Fun fact: There are also 991 perforated steel steps from the second to the third floor, but these are only used in emergencies or by participants in the vertical race. It’s free to attend!
Once you’ve started climbing the Eiffel Tower, you might find younger or more sensitive children are unnerved by the views through the structure, the metal steps and the noise they make, or the wind. I found the best way to keep my 7-year-old niece’s mind focused was to get her to count the steps.
Meanwhile, her cousins were racing to see who could get to the first floor fastest. You just never know how children will react!
Explaining the views to young explorers
While adults might be endlessly entertained by the spectacular views, small children tend to get bored quickly, so to keep mine interested, I bought them a pack of postcards of Paris’s most famous monuments so they could try and recognize them from 377 feet (115 meters) high on the second floor.
It’s a little harder from the summit because you’re getting more of a bird’s-eye view at 906 feet (276 meters) from the ground.
I also highly recommend bringing a pair of binoculars with you, if you have some. Children are always enchanted by the close-up views, and you won’t have to wait for one of the telescopes on the Eiffel Tower to become available.
Planning for weather
The weather in Paris varies widely with the seasons, so we wrote a whole blog post about the best time of year to visit the Eiffel Tower.
For families visiting the Eiffel Tower, it’s best to plan in advance. Check the weather forecast before you go. Is it supposed to rain? Is it slightly chilly? Make sure you’re dressed appropriately.
And remember that you’re climbing (or riding) quite high, so even if it’s sunny, it will be 2-4 degrees colder at the top of the tower than at the foot, and it may be windy. This is refreshing in summer, when Paris gets hot, but I recommend layers, especially in winter. Bring a sweater or light jacket for you and the little ones.
If it’s expected to be cold during your trip, you can always opt for the elevator tour of the Eiffel Tower. That will get you to the second floor faster, and no worries about wind as you climb up.