Le Jules Verne

There are 2.5 million rivets and 18,000 pieces of steel holding the Eiffel Tower together, so it seems fitting to order l’ecrou au chocolat at Le Jules Verne restaurant.

The decadent dessert is made in the shape of a nut and bolt similar to the ones I have been staring at all night.

The dark chocolate praline with hazelnut ice-cream is a fitting finale to a grand night of wining and dining high in the sky at Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.

Enter Le Jules Verne, 125m high, and you soon see why Paris is known as the city of lights; a twinkling panorama is revealed from all windows and stretches as far as the eye can see.

You feel like you are floating in space inside a giant Meccano construction and, until tonight, nuts, bolts and rivets have never before captured my imagination or featured in a dinner conversation.

Our dinner for six was booked on the restaurant’s website two months before where I surrendered my credit card details as security just in case we didn’t turn up.

A figure equivalent to the cost of a return economy seat from Sydney to Paris would be charged if we were no-shows.

Email instructions advise us to meet at the tower’s South Pillar at 7pm to be escorted up in a private lift directly to Le Jules Verne.

The restaurant, named after the novelist, was re-opened by Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse in 2007 — no easy task considering space is limited and the weight of all equipment is monitored with painstaking exactness.

There’s an air of anticipation as we step from the lift into the chic chocolate brown dining room to be greeted by a regiment of staff dressed in uniforms designed by luxury label Lanvin 15 Faubourg.

The dining room itself is a work of art; designer Patrick Join worked with Ducasse to bring a sensual touch to the technology and materials of the tower.

Through a honeycomb wall you catch glimpses of the well-orchestrated staff and their white chefs’ hats working in the kitchen. Look up and the fibre optic network on the ceiling recalls the interlacing streets of Paris.

Even the “presentation” plate by Pierre Tachon resembles the architecture of the Eiffel Tower, symbolising the structured world of Gustave Eiffel and the fantasy world of Jules Verne.

The menu, under the guardianship of head chef Pascal Feraud, is rooted in French tradition, albeit with a contemporary focus.

The wine list features 430 of the finest French wines from the country’s greatest regions, focusing on Burgundy, the Rhone and Bordeaux with long-standing names sharing the limelight with young winegrowers. No humble ice buckets here, instead bottles are kept in insulated compartments at optimum temperatures inside consoles integrated into the dining room.

We select the degustation menu of five courses, tonight it is Brittany lobster with tangy young vegetables, lightly creamy garden pea soup with spider crab and caviar, pan-seared turbot (fish) with girolles and light juice, a thick medallion of veal and potatoes followed by a raspberry and lime sorbet then the ice-cream tower bolt.

Every course is well presented with great aplomb and we are never disappointed.

Ingredients hail from throughout France and the potatoes and mushrooms from the market gardens of Ile de France.

So does Le JuleVerne deserve its place among the suggested 20 food experiences you must have before you die? I think so, but the food and wine are dwarfed by the magnificent views and the experience of just being inside this Paris icon.

Built in 1889 by Gustav Eiffel as a “temporary construction” it is a genuine technical feat and a work of bold engineering.

As we leave we are presented with a small bag of fragrant chestnut honey, vanilla and lemon zest Madeleine’s to enjoy tomorrow and relive the memories of a night in the Eiffel Tower — where rivets and steel take on a new meaning.


Le Jules Verne
Tour Eiffel, Avenue Gustave Eiffel, Paris, France
Phone: +33 1 45 55 61 44

Sue Wallace
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