There’s no doubt that Paris is a beautiful city. From the picturesque cobbled streets in Montmartre to the glamourous avenue des Champs-Élysées, it’s hard not to get swept up in the romanticism that surrounds the French capital. There’s something rather magical about walking along the lamp lit bridges over the Seine and wandering down the grand boulevards lined with elegant apartments. But to really appreciate Paris’ beauty you need to see it from above.
The Parisian skyline is instantly recognisable. Due to height restrictions on new buildings, there are very few skyscrapers in the centre of Paris. Instead, the famous monuments dominate the skyline, ruled by the Iron Lady.
Whenever friends came to visit me in Paris I’d always take them somewhere where they could look out over the City of Lights and enjoy a different perspective. Paris isn’t short of panoramic viewpoints but here are five of my favourite places to admire the city from above.
1. Arc de Triomphe
It might not be the tallest viewpoint in Paris but the Arc de Triomphe offers a beautiful view over the city. After climbing almost 300 steps, you’ll walk out onto the top of the monument and be rewarded with spectacular views down the twelve avenues which stretch out from the roundabout below. On a clear day, you can see all the way down the Champs Élysées to Place de la Concorde and the start of the Jardins des Tuileries. In the opposite direction, you’ll notice the skyscrapers of the business district, La Défense. But the view that captivates most visitors is that of the Eiffel Tower soaring above the rooftops. The best time to go is early evening so you can watch the sunset and the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle over the city.
Cost: 12€. Try and buy your tickets online in advance if you can to skip the long queues.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris
Métro stop: Charles de Gaulle Étoile (lines 1, 2 and 6)
2. Tour Montparnasse
Although the skyscraper itself isn’t very pleasing to the eye, the panoramic views from the tower are incredible. The lift takes you directly to the viewing gallery on the 56th floor which offers a 360-degree view over Paris. You can then take the stairs up to the roof terrace on 59th floor where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the city. It’s a popular place for photographers at sunset and one of my favourite places to watch the city light up. If you’re looking for a romantic restaurant for a special occasion then have a look at Le Ciel de Paris, located on the 56th floor. This gourmet restaurant offers a magical view over Paris at night. I’ve been twice and although it is a little pricey (you’re paying for the spectacular view after all), the food was lovely. The three course set menu (Menu Balcon) costs 68€ and includes a nice choice of dishes. If you don’t fancy dinner, then you can just go to the bar and enjoy a glass of champagne or a cocktail and take in the view.
Cost: 18€ or 23€ for a day and night ticket (valid for 2 visits within 48 hours). Free access to Le Ciel de Paris via a different lift.
Address: 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris
Métro stop: Montparnasse–Bienvenüe (lines 4, 6, 12 and 13)
3. Le Printemps Paris Haussmann
You could easily spend a small fortune in this department store, but if you can make it to the 9th floor without getting distracted then you’ll be rewarded by one of the best free views of the city. Right in the middle of Paris, the views from the rooftop terrace are simply breath-taking. To one side, you have Sacré Coeur and Montmartre; to the other, the Eiffel Tower, soaring above the grey rooftops and stone chimneys of Haussmannian buildings. You can also get some lovely photos of Madeleine church and the opera house, Palais Garnier. The terrace is home to the restaurant-bar, Perruche, and is a great place to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sun set in the summer months.
Address: 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Métro stop: Havre–Caumartin (lines 3 and 9)
4. Eiffel Tower
Although going up the Eiffel Tower does mean the Iron Lady won’t be in your photos, it is a great place for views of the Seine and the west side of the city. The third viewing platform offers a stunning panorama over Paris which stretches as far as 70km on a clear day. I have always preferred the second platform though as you are closer to the ground and can admire some of Paris’ most iconic monuments in detail. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions so be prepared for long queues. If you can buy your ticket in advance then you’ll save a lot of time and patience!
Cost: 25.50€ (lift access to the top) or 19.40€ (stairs to 2nd floor then lift to the top)
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris
Métro stop: Bir-Hakeim (line 6) or Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (RER C)
5. Sacré Coeur, Montmartre
Perched on the top of the ‘Butte’, Paris’ highest hill, the Basilica of Sacré Coeur has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the capital. To reach the top of the hill, you can either climb 270 steps or you can take the funicular. If you want to get an even better view, then you can purchase a ticket to climb the dome. The view from the top is spectacular but you do have to climb up 300 narrow spiral steps. The view from the steps of Sacré Coeur is just as nice especially as the sun goes down over Paris.
Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris
Métro stop: Anvers (line 2)
As always, please leave any comments and recommendations below. I’d love to hear from you!