Layover in Paris: How to see the Eiffel Tower
When my husband and I solidified our trip to Lisbon we booked our outgoing flight so we could enjoy a long layover in Paris. We had one main goal in mind: to see the Eiffel Tower. We were flying into Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) and knew we would have approximately 8 hours from the time we landed to the takeoff of our connecting flight.
So I began planning. I consulted with a friend who’d lived in Paris to get her suggestions. I perused Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and numerous blogs giving advice on what to do and how to get around. We finally settled on a route that we thought would give us the most time to do what we wanted.
The Metro Line
1. In CDG, our goal was to find our way to the metro/RER B and take the blue line into Paris’ City Centre, & get off at the St. Michael – Notre Dame stop.
2. We would then connect to the C line (yellow) and take that to the Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel stop.
Easy, right? If only that were the case. We deplaned and relatively easily followed directions and made it to the metro line that would leave the airport. We purchased our round trip tickets and descended into the metro station & stopped to speak with a customer service agent to solidify the route we had planned. Surprisingly, she told us to take a different route. When we asked her why she just repeated the new route — the blue RER to the Denfert-Rochereau stop, and from there hop on the #6 line (green).
Where We Went Wrong
So what did we do? We strode unto that metro line — and because she could give us no explanation as to why we shouldn’t — we continued on our original route. We had planned it out and felt it was the safer option. The train ride itself wasn’t terribly long, and similar to any other metro you would ride in New York or Chicago with stops every few minutes. We finally made it to the St. Michael – Notre Dame stop and departed the train.
But try as we might, we couldn’t get to our connecting yellow line (technically RER C). The only truly visible entrance to it was roped off as if the area were under construction. We finally found an employee and asked for help and were pointed to line #5 (orange) & directed to take that to La Motte, and switch to line #6 (green) and take that to Bir-Hakeim and exit. Our well-planned voyage in the Paris metro system had become a rat-race, but we finally made it to Bir-Hakeim, ascended into daylight once again, and walked on foot the rest of the way.
Moral of the story? Don’t be know-it-all Americans who can’t take direction from locals who know better.
The Eiffel Tower
It was a relatively easy walk from the metro stop to get to the Eiffel Tower. After all, we could plainly see it! However, as we grew closer, there was a lot of construction going on in the general vicinity & we had to snake through some areas that weren’t entirely pleasant. As we neared the tower, throngs of people stood in line waiting to enter. Because we were under a time crunch, we chose to forgo the line and instead decided to walk the perimeter and enjoy the scenery. Unfortunately, there is currently a rather unsightly large fence surrounding the Eiffel Tower, so you can no longer walk right under it. I’ll admit it’s difficult to get photos without the fence being featured as well.
None-the-less, we had accomplished our goal & completed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Something on dreams about as children and teenagers. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see the Eiffel Tower with my own eyes. We mingled among other tourists taking selfies and snapping photos and reveled in the grandeur of the tower. It’s truly a site to see, & we highly recommend working a long layover into your itinerary. Work in some other sites as well, such as the Louvre — see the Mona Lisa — or the Arc de Triomphe. Our time was limited, and perhaps if we had taken the local advice we could’ve squeezed more in.
Side note: Turns out the RER C/yellow line was completely closed, due to localized flooding in the city. Should’ve taken the advice we were given from the beginning.
The Continued Journey
After weaving our way around the tower, we meandered along the waterfront on the Seine River. Throngs of people walked alongside us despite the blistering cold April weather. I snapped some photos of the statues lining the bridge, wishing for some sunlight to peek out from the clouds. We contemplated a boat tour but knew we didn’t have the time. Instead, we found our way to a nearby cafe to enjoy some espresso and croissants.
After our short yet relaxing coffee break, we walked back to the Bir-Hakeim stop & took the line to Denfert-Rochereau where we quickly switched over to the Blue RER line straight back to the airport. After the hassle of our earlier wanderings, the route back to the airport was swift and efficient. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to check back in & get through security to board our flight.
Have you ever had a well laid out plan that fell apart? If so, what did you do? Does anyone else have stories of their trip to the Eiffel Tower?