The biggest Disney World fans are aware of the luxurious suite inside Cinderella’s castle, but did you know that there’s also a secret apartment at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Unlike the castle, however, entrepreneur Gustave Eiffel had this epic hideaway built just for himself — no guests allowed.
The Best View in Town
If we were to say where the best view in Europe is, the top of the Eiffel Tower would be a likely contender. Imagine waking up in a cozy apartment with colorful wallpaper, wooden cabinets, and a grand piano. You’d sip espresso and nibble a croissant while gazing over the Palais de Chaillot from nearly 1,000 feet (305 meters) in the air. You may believe that this is what Gustave Eiffel had in mind when he instructed his team to build the tower and its secret apartment in 1889, but the truth is that he needed to use this space to make his tower a permanent fixture of the Paris skyline.
Originally, the Eiffel Tower was intended as a temporary exhibit meant to broadcast France’s industrial power to the rest of Europe. Eiffel knew that the terms of the construction project meant the tower was slated for demolition in 1909, so he contacted the world’s most prominent scientists in an attempt to provide the tower with a legitimate scientific purpose that would save his namesake creation from being destroyed.
Upon the tower’s completion, the apartment served as a laboratory for atmospheric measurements, astronomical observations, and physics experiments. He finally found the perfect accomplice in Captain Gustave Ferrié, who used the tower for the French Army’s wireless telegraphy experiments in 1903. The tower was able to broadcast wireless signals as far as North America, making it indispensable to the city that would otherwise have torn it down only six years later.
Writer Henri Girard declared that Eiffel’s apartment was “furnished in the simple style dear to scientists,” in contrast to the “wrought iron modernity and technological prowess” of the tower. As one might imagine, his enclave was the talk of the Parisian elite, and many requested to rent his space. Eiffel’s apartment remained private, however, and he only entertained guests, such as Thomas Edison, on occasion.
Here’s a Consolation Prize
In summer 2016, vacation rental company HomeAway converted a conference space inside the tower into an apartment. No, it’s not the same, but it’s still 188 feet (57 meters) above ground with two bedrooms, an urban greenhouse, and panoramic views of the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré Coeur, and the Seine River from its floor-to-ceiling windows. Pretty sweet. Four contest winners already stayed in the space in July 2016, so we’re keeping our ears open for more opportunities.
What about the apartment itself? While you still can’t stay there, you can tour it. You’ll even catch a peek of Eiffel and Edison mannequins having a chat. And maybe, just maybe, you can still sip an espresso, nibble on a croissant, and pretend you’re one of Eiffel’s bourgeois guests.