“I’m going to just walk it. Won’t be a big deal.”
“You are not making our child walk up the Eiffel Tower. You’re insane.”
“OK, I’ll carry him,” I told my wife, who whether on stairs or elevator would not be joining us.
“You’re insane. But whatever. I’m not doing it.”
My wife told me something along those lines when I informed her that I would be walking up all 500 steps of the Eiffel Tower with our then-5-year-old son. I don’t think she would’ve called me insane for that specific act, though. We’ve been married for more than 13 years. She knows that sort of thing pretty much defines me.
And, my reasoning for walking up the Eiffel made sense. A few months before our trip to Paris, I decided to check out the Paris forum on Trip Advisor. That’s when I came across numerous people posting concerns about an elevator being shut down for several months at the Eiffel Tower. I was planning to make a reservation for us to ride up, but times were sold out for months. We could show up, buy a ticket and wait for hours for the one elevator up. And saying hours might be an understatement.
I saw a few threads about people walking it. I thought it was possible. It would be that or skip it.
Skip the Eiffel Tower? Yeah, I was OK with it. Been there, done that and didn’t really have the desire to do it again. But Colby had been looking forward to this for months. I had no choice.
So instead of booking a reservation for a lift ride up, I read up on what we’d expect when we showed up to buy a ticket. We’d arrive, stand in a much shorter queue, and purchase a cheaper ticket to walk up to the second level before purchasing another ticket for the lift ride to the top.
So that was the plan, and it played into my already under way exercise program to get myself and our son in shape for the trip.
After about a 20-minute wait for tickets we began the walk. We were both excited. But before I could walk one step Colby was demanding to be picked up. Let the journey begin!
I have to be honest. I didn’t carry Colby up every step. I actually put him down 10 steps from the top of the second level. I don’t recall if I wanted him to be able to say he walked part of the way up the Eiffel, or I was just about to collapse. I’d like to think it was a combination of the two. But he was happy to be on our way up.
When we started the journey up temps were cool but comfortable. I started with a T-shirt, long-sleeve shirt and rain jacket. By the time I made it to the second story I was down to the T-shirt. He might just be a child, but carrying a pack on my back and a 45-pound squirmy boy in my arms, let’s just say I got a little hot.
I honestly don’t remember much about the second half of the walk up. I think much like when I’m out running, I just needed the first little bit to stretch things out. My legs were fine; I had just run a half marathon a couple of weeks before the trip so the legs weren’t the problem. The back, knees, arms, neck … yeah, it all burned. But I made it to the top, with him in my burning arms the whole way.
And all of that burning was worth it because I got to see this at the top:
The hardest part of the walk up the Eiffel Tower? It was the walk down. If you have any kind of strength in your legs and your knees can manage, the walk up — albeit tiring — is manageable. But imagine carrying a tall, lanky boy in your arms while walking down any kind of stairs. The problem I had most of the walk down was a constant feeling that I was going to fall. Having both arms holding Colby I couldn’t brace myself on the rail.
Would I recommend walking up the Eiffel Tower? I would, actually, but only if you’re in at least somewhat good physical condition. As long as you pace yourself it’s not that difficult. You’ll be tired, but the good thing is you will have an experience of a lifetime. A tiring experience, but one nonetheless.