The Eiffel Tower or the Ferris Wheel?

Have you been to the top of the Eiffel Tower? Waited in the long line for the elevator or taken the many (704) steps up or down?

Eiffel Tower Steps

Have you wondered why such a structure was created? Or did you just accept its existence as a symbol of Paris? A check off on your bucket list? A place to see a view?

View from Eiffel Tower

When I took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I didn’t realize that its structure created an engineering challenge for organizers of the Chicago World’s Fair, which I learned while reading the book, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

After the creation and appearance of the 986-foot Eiffel Tower in 1889, American engineers were perplexed. Designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel’s consulting firm, Eiffel et Compagnie, the Eiffel Tower was created for the Exposition Universalle (the Paris World’s Fair).

Now it was America’s turn. The challenge: to create an engineering marvel for the Chicago World’s Fair that would rival the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

And they succeeded, but only just in time. Designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., the 2 million-pound Ferris Wheel officially opened on June 21, 1893, during the Chicago World’s Fair. 

London Eye

The original Eiffel Tower still exists: the Paris icon a tourist attraction as well as a dining destination. Though the original Ferris wheel no longer exists, various iterations exist in cities and fairs all over the world. Paris even built their own version in 1900, Le Grand Roue, for the Paris Exposition.

Next time, you’re dining at Le Jules Verne or riding through the air on the London Eye, remember the creators and the impetus for invention.

Trip taken: July 2010. Book read: 2014. 

24 Hours in Paris!

When our kids were 10 and 12, we decided to give them a whirlwind glimpse of Paris.Paris

After 10 days in Great Britain, we arrived at London’s St. Pancras International Station ready to board the early morning Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel to Paris, France. Although the “Chunnel” is only 31.4 miles (235 of those miles are under water), the entire distance from London to Paris is 307 miles and takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

We arrived at Paris’ Gare du Nord, hopped on the Metro, and got off at St. Michel-Notre Dame. Though the weather was hot (about 85 degrees), we walked slowly from Notre Dame Cathedral to the top of the Eiffel Tower, exploring the Left Bank along the way.

Eiffel Tower

We were lucky – our lodging that night was at a friend’s apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a western suburb of Paris. We sat outside on our friend’s balcony drinking champagne and speaking English interspersed with French.

The next morning, a short Metro ride brought us to the Avenue des Champs Élysées and a 2-mile walk to Le Musée de Louvre.

Louis Vuitton

After a quick tour past the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, we left Paris for our train back to London.

Mona Lisa

If you had only 24 hours in Paris, what would you do?

Trip taken: July 2008.