The Eiffel Tower. Is there a more iconic construction anywhere in the world? Its shape immediately throws ones mind into a gallic gear and sets it running through the cobbled streets of Monmartre down to the Tuileries and on around a city that revels in the beauty of life and romance. This magnificent structure brands a country with a history and culture the match of any.
It was built in 1889 to form the entrance to the World's Fair, surely making it the most impressive archway ever made! It was never meant to be a permanent fixture on the city's skyline. It wasn't always entirely loved, either. Famously Guy de Maupassant ate his lunch on the Eiffel Tower itself as it offered the only view in Paris unspoiled by the site of the tower!
In 1912 Franz Reichelt jumped from the first level in an attempt to prove to the world that his new parachute could save the lives of airmen. Sadly, his invention failed and he died on impact with the ground.
I remember as a kid seeing the scene in Superman 2 when the lift falls and Superman saves the day. That played on my mind as an eleven-year-old on my way into the city with my father. I first saw the tower from a train as it passed over the Seine and in the foreground was a block of flats about 15 stories high. I was fooled by the perspective and thought it didn't look too tall. When I got up to it, all my nerves came back!
Going up the Eiffel Tower is something you just feel you have to do if you go to Paris and a big part of me is glad I did it when I was eleven so I can avoid the nerve-jangling experience in future!
…but I digress.