Last Updated on 12th June 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’re looking for one of the most magical experiences to have in Paris, then you simply need to enjoy the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower come night time in the city. Best seen from Trocadéro, i.e. the raised esplanade which gives expansive views onto the Tour Eiffel and the Champ de Mars, here’s a guide on how to enjoy the Eiffel Tower sparkle.
A brief history of the Eiffel Tower Light Show
Known by many as the Eiffel Tower light show, the Dame de Fer glitters every night at various points, apart from under the most exceptional of circumstances. The current light show each evening was created by Pierre Bideau, a French engineer who created the system in 1985, though it may well surprise you to learn that the idea for lighting up the tower came as early as 1889.
In its current iteration; the Tower’s show has been created from placing orange yellow sodium lamps onto 336 large projectors. This means that the tower can quite literally be lit from within. It also means that the Eiffel Tower can be seen, even during night in Paris, from the furthest away of vantage points, including that of Montmartre.
The ‘sparkle’ aspect of the Eiffel Tower light show wasn’t introduced until 1999, when the system was installed just in time to ring in the new Millennium. Each side of the Eiffel Tower has five thousand bulbs on it to create the sparkle effect, meaning that the tower has 20,000 in total.
In a bid to conserve more energy, the City of Paris actually installed low-energy using bulb in recent years to reduce the carbon-footprint used by the light show. Though the Light Show occurs every night, certain occasions mean that the Eiffel Tower is lit up in various ways to commemorate certain dates and events.
Once upon a time, firework displays against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower would have been used to celebrate events, such as Bastille Day. However, in recent years, security concerns have led to firework events becoming much less common than before. As mentioned, in its lifetime, the Eiffel Tower has been used to project many things, and was even a giant billboard for Citroën in the 1920s.
In more recent times, the Eiffel Tower has projected the colours of the French flag to commemorate the victims of the terrible attacks of November 2015. From May 15-17 in 2019, a twelve minute show was projected onto the Tower to celebrate the tower’s 130th Birthday.
Today, around seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower on an annual basis. Though I must maintain that the best view in Paris is not from the top of the Eiffel Tower (due to its position not in the centre of the city), many still make it their Paris mission to ascend the iron landmark and admire the bird’s eye perspective from the top.
How to enjoy the Eiffel Tower illuminations
The light show takes place every evening from sundown until 1AM. On the hour, every hour, the tower glitters with hundreds of thousands of lights for a full five minute. The final show, at 1 AM, is perhaps the most magical of all.
Instead of the yellow lights of the tower remaining illuminated, these are shut off for this show, and instead all you can see are twinkling white lights against the shadow of the dark tower. Rather than the typical five minutes, the final performance lasts a full ten minutes.
Of course, you don’t have to head directly underneath the Eiffel Tower in order to enjoy its light show. A city-wide mandate ensures that no buildings are constructed which will be taller than the Eiffel Tower. As such, there are many beautiful Eiffel Tower views to be discovered all across the city. I particularly enjoy the view from Le Perchoir Le Marais, and, of course, from along the banks of the River Seine.
Last but not least, it’s well worth noting that there are plenty of things to do near the Eiffel Tower while you’re waiting for the skies to go dark and the light show to begin. For example, from checking out pretty flowers during the spring to indulging in a picnic near the base of the metallic structure, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!