To ascend the Eiffel Tower, the least expensive but most time-consuming option used to require waiting in a long queue to buy the required elevator tickets. This could waste 30 to 90 minutes of your precious time in Paris, standing in line. It still exists.
Booking a table at the pricey but excellent Jules Verne restaurant is still another solution, provided that a table is available at the time and date you want it. Currently, the only way to book a table at the JV on-line at: http://www.restaurants-toureiffel.com/. For periods of peak demand, it is often booked solid months in advance.
If the time and date that you request is refused, you might finesse your booking by advancing or pushing back the requested time of reservation, in half hour increments, or changing to a near-by date. Lunches are easier than dinners to reserve, and the week day set-meal luncheons are a bargain of sorts. Armed with a booking, you get a free ride in an elevator to the second platform, where JV is located. Access is at the yellow awning in the southwest column of the tower. After your meal, you can buy tickets to go further up the tower from vending machines on the platform, for which there is never much of a wait.
A third choice used to be having a reservation at a second restaurant on the first platform, Altitude 95, where the cuisine was stunningly dull and the availability caveat still applied. With a booking at Altitude 95, whether for lunch or dinner, you could buy your elevator tickets at a kiosk at the ground level, for which there was no line.
That is now history, as Altitude 95 has mercifully been supplanted by a new restaurant, 58 Tour Eiffel, with much improved cuisine. That is progress, but not without a downside: 58 TE does not accept reservations for lunch, so you can only buy your elevator ticket without having to queue if you have a dinner reservation, and you must buy the ticket half an hour before your booking. You can book 58 Tour Eiffel on-line at the same link as above, or by calling 0825566662. (If calling from abroad, substitute 33 for the zero.) As with JV, you can buy elevator tickets to go further up the tower from vending machines on the first platform, for which there are no lines.
Mercifully, a new option for buying elevator tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower has recently become available, with or without a restaurant booking. Visit the tower’s official site at http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/, where you can buy your tickets on-line and print them in the comfort of your home or office. That is real progress, and it allows you direct access to the elevators, to soar by the entire 1710 steps that it would otherwise require to reach the top.
The most daunting way to go up the Eiffel Tower, one that might appeal to fitness nuts and other curious creatures, is by climbing 374 steps to the first platform. On a dare from my then very young children, I once was suckered into it. I am still here to tell the story, but I don’t recommend it. You have to buy a ticket to walk up, even if the kiosk that sells them is deserted, which is ample warning to all but the brain-dead. An honorable member of the latter set, I set off with the kids, whose teeming energy vanished less than a third of the way up. Reaching the first platform suddenly became an effort of monumental proportions, a mirror of the tower itself.