Everyone visiting Paris should explore the Eiffel Tower – at least once. Visit all three levels and experience the historical panoramas of the city. But while a single exploration may satisfy the attraction of the tower itself, the views of the iconic structure must be savored from assorted locations throughout the city. But the finest unobstructed views are to be found nearby.
At any time of day, but especially at night, perhaps the best unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower can be found beside the pool and fountains of the Palais de Chaillot, also known as the Palais du Trocadero. Located across the river Seine and less than 400 yards from the tower itself, the first Palais on the hill here was built for the 1878 World’s Fair. That structure was rebuilt for the World’s Fair in 1937 and now presents two curved wings separated by a central esplanade.
Between the Palais and the river are some 30 acres of beautiful gardens and park areas highlighted by the long, rectangular central pool and fountains. Especially at night, the lighted fountains are spectacular as is the remarkable view of the nearby tower.
On the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower from the Chaillot fountains is the long stretch of grass known as the Champ de Mars offering the next best unobstructed view of the tower. In the 16th and 17th centuries this was a park and garden area but by the 18th century it had become a training ground for the cadets attending the École Militaire, or Military School, located at the end of the long grassy area. At that time the field was enclosed by a fence and accommodated military training exercises involving as many as 10,000 men at a time.
From its original size of more than 100 acres, size of the field was reduced several times to accommodate World Fairs and Expositions until it reached its current size of about 60 acres. One of these fairs was the Universal Exposition of 1889 which included the construction of the Eiffel Tower itself. The park now stretches more than one-half mile from the river to the Military Academy with a width of some 300 yards. In addition to the lush grassy center of the park you’ll find garden areas with shrubs and flowerbeds.
While the areas close to the Military School and next to the Trocadero fountains offer the best unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower, some of my favorite views are from the small parks immediately adjacent to each side of the tower itself.
Here you’ll find wonderful trees and ponds along often quiet meandering footpaths lined with benches and lampposts. Depending on the season and the time of day, these parks can seem almost intimate while offering intriguing yet seldom seen angles of this quintessential Paris landmark.