Ah, Paris. City of love, the place that has evoked more praise from writers, actresses, philosophers, and artists than anywhere else in the world. At the heart of it all is the Eiffel Tower, a stunning piece of architecture draped in five billion lights that beckons tourists from all over the world to come to marvel in her glory. Some people dream their whole lives of visiting this authentic Parisian spectacle, putting it at the tops of their bucket lists and saving years worth of earnings for a flight to France.

But is the Eiffel Tower really worth the hype? While you may be imaging lawn picnics complete with French wine and cheese, the reality is likely to be a lot less romantic than that. Despite its glowing reputation, the Tower comes with some drawbacks being that it's the most-visited tourist attraction in the world. If you're planning a trip to see The Iron Lady (as the French call her), get ready to endure long lines, huge crowds, and tacky tourists. Don't believe us? Below we've compiled 25 images that show the French monument may not be as appealing as the travel guides would have you believe.

24 You Thought The Lines At Disney World Were Long

If you want to join the masses and make the climb up Paris' most desirable attraction, be prepared to wait for a very long time. More than 7 million people visit the tower every year, so don't expect to just walk right in. Unless you wake up at the crack of dawn to be the first one in line, expect to spend 2.5-3 hours waiting for your turn to go to the top. Might we suggest a crossword puzzle or Mad Libs pass the time?

23 What Is Personal Space?

If you want to know what it feels like to be packed in like a sardine, visit the Eiffel Tower. It doesn't take long for the romantic fantasy to turn into a claustrophobic nightmare. When you get to the top, you may have to take an elbow to the face as people push past you to see the view, but hey, that's showbiz baby. Just remember to bring Tic Tacs, because the person standing next to you will definitely be able to smell the French Onion Soup on your breath.

22 Brown Steel -- A Thing Of Beauty

The Eiffel Tower was once regarded as 'the ugliest building in Paris.' Iron was an uncommon building material when the tower was constructed in 1887, and many artists, sculptors, writers, and architects even protested it being built. While the tower is certainly unique, we have to agree that up close, it's a bit underwhelming. Underneath the glistening lights that illuminate the tower at night are plain old wrought-iron beams. Sure, it's pretty from far away, but upon visiting you may just find that it loses a little bit of its luster.

21 Closing Time Came Sooner Than Anticipated

Picture this: You wake up early, put on your most Instagram-worthy outfit, fix your hair, catch the bus, and make it just in time for the Tower’s opening -- only to find out it’s closed. Unfortunately, this is a reality all too often. Inclement weather, employee strikes, or security threats can result in the tower shutting down at any time. Generally speaking, the tower is open 365 days a year, so you may think to yourself, "Oh well, I'll just come back tomorrow." But in the event that you're visiting on the last day of your Paris vacation, we suggest including a backup plan on your itinerary.

20 Just Another Tourist Cliché

If you’ve seen one tourist photo, you’ve seen them all. Is anyone going to be impressed by the illusion of you holding the tower in your palm? No. Are you going to take the photo anyway? Probably. Trust us, there are a lot more unique, clever, interesting photo opportunities waiting for you if you’re willing to stray from the beaten path even just a little bit. Not to mention, more worthwhile and less frustrating travel experiences. Get lost walking random city streets, try a food you’ve never had before, talk to a local and see where their favorite places in the city are. Experience Paris the authentic way rather than just the tourist way.

19 Smog As Far As The Eye Can See

Paris is a sight to behold, except when it’s covered by a blanket of smog. The city is one of the most polluted tourist destinations in the world. One study purports that living there for a year has the same impact on your health as smoking 183 cigarettes. So if you're going for the beautiful view, we hope you don't mind the thick grey veil covering the city. And if you're visiting the tower on a day when air pollution is particularly high, don't be surprised if all you see is smog when you reach the top.

18 Be Honest, You’re Really Only Going For The ‘Gram

If you don’t post your Eiffel Tower pictures on social media, did you even go? Forget about the summit view or the iconic historical monument, the real appeal of going is the photo. Admit it -- the idea of forcing your way through crowds all day would be a deterrent if you couldn’t make everyone jealous with a photo of how magical Paris was. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to pick out a filter and come up with the perfect caption while you’re waiting in line. #ParisMonAmour

17 Size Matters

At one time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world. That time is long gone, however. You can see that in comparison to many of the world’s highest observation decks, the Eiffel Tower falls very short. Sure, at 900 feet up, the tower’s highest platform still offers a pretty spectacular panorama of Paris. But if you want to experience some truly impressive height on your travels, consider paying a visit to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the top of the Shanghai Tower.

16 A Cheesy Couple’s Photo Mecca

Ah, Tower of Love. Where else can you go to become so acutely aware of your forever single status? Prepare to be surrounded by couples sharing romantic picnics together, kissing, and getting engaged. Meanwhile, you're hiding your tears behind a gift shop beret and eating your feelings in the form of a baguette. If you're lucky enough to visit the tower with a significant other, you can delight in taking cheesy pictures like the above. But be warned, your friends and onlookers will hate you for it. I'm not bitter, you're bitter.

15 Baby, It’s Cold Outside

If you’re planning a visit to ‘The Iron Lady’, for your sake, we hope you choose to do so during the warmer months. A blanket of snow is certainly pretty but make for a pleasant trip up the tower it does not. Not only will you shiver while waiting in line, but you can expect a significant temperature drop as you ascend 276 meters to the top. The ever-present wind at the summit is not your friend either. So if you’re planning a romantic escape for Valentine’s Day, remember to pack gloves.

14 The View Isn’t Always Better From The Top

We’d like to tell you that the 3 hours of waiting in line is worth it for the sight at the top. Unfortunately, the metal grate surrounding the tower prevents us from doing that like it prevents observers from taking in the vista. As mesmerizing as the panorama of Paris is, it’s a little underwhelming when you have to take it in as if from behind a prison gate. Sure, you can reach your arms through to take a picture, so long as you don’t mind the risk of dropping your brand new iPhone. But what does a picture from the top of the Eiffel Tower not have in it? The Eiffel Tower.

13 Those Souvenirs You’re Scoping Are Probably Illegal

We bet you’d just love to take home a little Eiffel Tower sculpture to put on your desk at home, so you can look at it and remember your Parisian adventure. Well, the little sculpture can be yours for 5 Euros and one misdemeanor! That’s right, the grounds of the Eiffel Tower are crawling with illegal vendors, looking to sell you everything from food to plastic junk. And yeah, you probably won't actually get in trouble for buying from one of these guys, but we can think of a lot more worthwhile souvenirs to commemorate your time abroad than a cheap knockoff.

12 You Don’t Have To Go To Get A Good Photo

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This is a great photo! This totally makes me want to visit the Eiffel Tower!” The thing is, you don’t have to go TO the Tower to see this. One of the best places to snap a picture or just take in the view is the Place du Trocadéro, a large square directly across the river from the tower. You could also consider taking a scenic river cruise or visiting a nearby bridge to gaze upon the tower leisurely and undisturbed by the crowds.

11 Consider All Your Options

If the view is what you’re going for, keep in mind some other options for taking in the cityscape. The observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower offers an unparalleled panorama of Paris. It’s positioned perfectly to see the entire city, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Luxembourg Garden. Climb or take a lift to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, or join the gargoyles atop Notre Dame. There are plenty of other places to take in the beauty of Paris without fighting the mobs at the Eiffel Tower.

10 Safety First

Okay, we understand this one. Safety is important and all that jazz, but do you really want a reminder about all the things that can go wrong when you’re trying to enjoy a pleasant afternoon seeing the sights? These guys are here for your protection, but we’d be lying if we said the sight of armed officers and military personnel all over the place wasn’t a little bit foreboding. When you combine that with the statistics on terror attacks in France -- yeah, we’d say that puts a bit of a damper on the whole “Tower of Love” reputation.

9 It’s Illegal To Take Pictures Like This

The Eiffel Tower’s nightly light show is really something spectacular, whether you’re viewing it up close or while sipping champagne from the patio of a nearby cafe. Unfortunately, it’s illegal to take photos of the light show. Under the European Union’s copyright law, an artist’s work is protected during their lifetime plus 70 years. Since the lights weren’t installed until 1985, and they are considered an artistic work, they are protected by this law. You probably won’t find yourself in hot water if you snap a quick pic, but be wary if you plan on sharing it online.

8 Get Ready For Stairs, Stairs, and More Stairs!

Trivia time! How many steps does it take to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower? If you guessed ‘too many,’ you’d be correct. But to be exact, it’s 1,710. Don’t forget to strap on your Fit Bit in the morning, because your daily activity level is about to get a serious spike. For those of you less physically zealous, there are several lifts that can take you to the top, two of which are originals that were installed during the Tower’s construction in 1889. Nothing like a 900 feet ascension in a 130-year-old cube to make you contemplate your mortality appreciate history.

7 Nothing Screams ‘Romance’ Like Bulletproof Glass Walls

Remember those safety threats we were talking about earlier? Yeah, well those are also what lead to the installation of 10-foot high bulletproof glass walls around the Tower. Additionally, hundreds of blocks were installed in front of the wall to prevent attacks by vehicles. This $40 million security measure was protested by many, who felt the walls would drastically alter the aesthetic of the Tower. If you had a chance to see it before these new additions, congratulations. If you haven’t seen it yet and you’re among the population that doesn’t enjoy looking at the bulletproof glass as they enjoy their wine and cheese picnic, we suggest going elsewhere.

6 Better Stay Away If You’ve Got Acrophobia

We admit the guy who took this photo was off his rocker. While we can assume no sane person is going to scale the Tower to perch precariously on a 4-inch wide beam, if you have a fear of heights, it’s probably best to avoid this climb, to begin with. Regardless of the security grate around the top, you're still 900 feet in the air, and looking down at the ground from that high is likely to have anyone feeling like James Stewart in Vertigo.

5 We’ll Always Have Las Vegas

In 1993 the image of the Eiffel Tower entered into the public domain, so the lovely Las Vegas got their own slice of French bread come 1999. If Paris isn’t calling your name, you can always visit the Nevada half-scale replica instead. While you’re at it, you can cross the Colosseum and a Venetian gondola ride off your bucket list. You’ll be exhausted after your long day of travels, so indulge in an all-you-can-eat buffet. After all, nothing says “authentic cuisine” like $19.99 surf and turf.