Instagram

Instagram has returned invalid data.

Follow Me!

FOOD & WINE

Lunch on top of the Eiffel Tower: Tourist trap or experience of a lifetime?

April 4, 2013
The Eiffel Tower in Paris
View of the Eiffel Tower from the window of our room

View of the Eiffel Tower from the window of our room

On Trip Advisor, the crowds are split about whether or not to dine at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Some say that the Jules Verne restaurant, which has one Michelin star, is a big tourist trap. At 125 meters above ground, inarguably it is the highest one in Paris. Others rave that dining there was the experience of a lifetime. I’m still digesting the experience, literally, having been there for lunch only a few hours ago.

Most iconic experiences are, in some sense, tourist trips—including this one. Have you seen the vendors selling religious objects outside the Vatican, too? People still want to visit these places because of their beauty, place in history or sense of cultural importance. The top of the Eiffel Tour offers all of the above.

The gastronomic restaurant has been in the same space for thirty years, since 1983. One jovial waiter, now bald, joked that he had started there when he had a full head of hair. The service was polished and professional.

Here are a few things you need to know to avoid disappointment:

The Food

Chef Alain Ducasse, who has earned multiple Michelin stars, took over the kitchen at the Jules Verne restaurant in 2007 (There is another more moderately priced restaurant at the Eiffel Tower on a lower floor, about 95 meters above ground).

We opted for the fixed price menu, which included an amuse bouche and three courses. (You can also order off an a la carte menu). How was it? Yes, you can surely enjoy many finer lunches in Paris for less than 90 euros per person. And that’s exclusive of the exorbitant costs of beverages: $10 for bottled water and $29 for a glass of red wine, for example.

The china and table setting were lovely, the food was beautifully presented, and the service was attentive. But overall, the dishes tasted quite ordinary although we really couldn’t quite figure out why.

My husband and I both had appetizers of foie gras and preserved duck layers; entrees of pan-seared John Dory served on a bed of fresh peas, asparagus, and beans with fresh almonds; and we each chose different desserts. He had a chocolate soufflé for a surcharge of five euros; I had roasted pineapple with coconut. Both desserts were incredibly delicious. In addition, the waiter brought a plate of macarons and other pastries, and small bowls of decadent marshmallows and dusted chocolate cubes afterwards.

Foie Gras and Layered Duck Preserves

Foie Gras and Layers of Preserved Duck

John Dory at Jules Verne Restaurant

John Dory at Jules Verne Restaurant on top of the Eiffel Tower

Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate Souffle

Making Reservations

We checked online only a couple of days before our trip and were disappointed that no reservations were available. Apparently, they are hard to come by (there are only 120 seats in the restaurant) so guests are advised to reserve months in advance, especially if they want to sit next to a window.

We lucked out because we left our cell phone number on the website in case of a cancellation. Lo and behold, the phone rang during breakfast at our hotel, which we quickly aborted, when we learned we could have a table at 12:45 PM on the same day. We were seated at an interior table but the views are terrific from every vantage point around the room and reasonably spaced.

The Experience

Restaurant guests enter the restaurant through a special entrance, which leads them to a private lift, avoiding the hoards of people already queued to enjoy the views at the top. The picturesque ride up takes about 1½ minutes.

The atmosphere of the circular room isn’t too stuffy or formal; it seemed appropriate to the venue. Some men wore jackets at lunch; others didn’t. Yes, the bathrooms were a bit like airplane lavatories, in terms of their number, size and wait time. The TripAdvisor poster was correct in that respect. Adding insult to injury, after my turn, I had to remind the hostess to replenish the toilet paper.

After lunch, we leisurely walked out to a private balcony two floors below the restaurant to take pictures and gaze over the rooftops of Paris and the Seine. We were told to ring a buzzer when we wanted to return to the private elevator to leave.

The Final Verdict

Considering that the fixed price lunch is half the price of dinner, it’s a decent deal for a once-in-a-lifetime experience (especially if you are visiting Paris on a cold, gray, windy day). While the food wasn’t memorable, we’ll long remember the setting, the views, and being there together.  Is lunch on top of the Eiffel Tower a tourist trap or experience of a lifetime? Probably a little of both.

The View on Top of the Eiffel Tower

The View on Top of the Eiffel Tower


IF YOU GO:

For further information, see the website of the Jules Verne Restaurant 

 

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    April 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Sounds like quite an experience. You may not have found the food excellent, but my mouth was watering.

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    April 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    We did this on our first trip to Paris. I’m like you – though I felt it a bit touristy, it was definitely worth the experience. Love the photos!

  • Reply
    Brette
    April 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I think there are some things you just have to do or you will regret it, even if they are touristy!

  • Reply
    Helen
    April 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I hope to take my 16-year old granddaughter to Paris in the fall and after reading the article, think we HAVE to do this. I better start saving my pennies!

  • Reply
    MyKidsEatSquid
    April 11, 2013 at 1:02 am

    You just can’t beat the view, so I suppose I’d forgive them for not having the best food.

  • Reply
    Ann Cochran
    April 11, 2013 at 12:25 am

    The food sounded fine – at least it wasn’t awful! One does have to pay a premium for places with such views; I wonder why they can’t come up with more memorable food. Still, the overall experience sounded great and I would do it, too, with my husband, but not if we were hosting a group. Great review.

  • Reply
    ruth pennebaker
    April 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    You know, I do think some of us spend too much time worried about patronizing a place that’s “touristy.” What I try to be more concerned about is whether it’s a rip-off; Jules Verne seemed to be worth it. I’ll remember this post the next time I go to Paris, so merci beaucoup.

  • Reply
    Vera Marie Badertscher
    April 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I’m glad that you decided it was worthwhile. I’m more of a budget traveler, and have a hard time understanding why the view from the restaurant is a big deal when you can get virtually the same view from the viewing deck. And definitely I’d want to save up for a splurge meal in Paris–but only if spending more than $250 American for 2 people means that I get top notch food. So touristy? I don’t care about that so much, but value? I care a lot.

  • Reply
    Living Large
    April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I could not do the foie gras due to the inhumane way ducks are treated in this process. I suppose that most places in tourist destinations could be considered a tourist trap. The point, I think, is the view worth the possible disappointment in the food.

  • Reply
    Mike
    August 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    This was an awesome post! I recently read a post from another popular blogger like you that painted a really negative light on Everything Eiffel. I left a comment that regardless of the post it is a life long dream of mine and I will see that dream come true someday. Thank you for restoring the joy and anticipation I have for this bucket list experience I will someday have at the Tower and Jules Verne! Your lunch and the pics even further validated this for me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Share
Tweet
Share
Pin
Flip