Still the best spot for Bastille Day is a picnic on the Champs de Mars, in the shadow of the Tour.
It’s still the beacon of Paris – 120 years later. When built as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 “universal” fair in Paris, the Eiffel Tower was the planet’s highest structure. Today it’s one of the most emblematic – a symbol of the launch of modernity, an artist’s icon, a destination for lovers who propose marriage at 1,000 feet.
For the 120th there’s an exhibit on Gustave Eiffel – who also worked on the Statue of Liberty – the “iron magician” behind the revolutionary design. So revered is the Eiffel that it’s a shock at 120 to find out how close it came to being torn down.
It’s still a ritual visit for all first-timers to Paris, and worth wait to climb up the sides for the view, but no longer because it’s ” the only place in Paris where you don’t have to look at it,” as Tower critic and Belle Époque humorist Tristan Bernard famously quipped.