As we all know, Paris is always a good idea. Looking to spoil yourself a bit and spend a weekend shopping with your bestie? In need of a romantic gateway with your sweetheart? whatever it is you;re looking for, Paris has you covered. The beauty of Paris is that it has got something for everyone. Art connoisseurs can spend hours browsing through the famous musea and galleries, shoppins queens will lose their hearts at Galleries Lafayette, while coffee lovers will just sit back and enjoy the countless charming little cafés sprinkled around this beautiful gem of city.
Paris is so much more than the city of love, or the city of light (even though you’ll find both in abundance!). Paris is a way of life. And for me, it was a love at first sight. Having visited for the first time when I was 16, I didn’t have time for much more than hitting the usual tourist spots. However, coming back twice in the last two years, I was able to discover many more sides and faces of Paris – and with that, some impeccable views of the city. If you’re curious to find out more about the best views in Paris, and where to find them, grab yourself a croissant and read on!
1. Tour Montparnasse
Let’s kick off with what is, in my humble opinion, the best view in Paris! Wait a minute, I hear you think, what about the Eiffel Tower? Isn’t the top of the Iron Lady bound to offer the best view of Paris? Sorry to spoil the dream for you, but…no. Here’s the thing. When you climb the famous iron construction to enjoy the panoramic view of the city of lights, you’ll might feel like something’s missing. Oh wait, it’s the Eiffel Tower! The symbol of Paris, the iconic needle piercing the skies will inevitably not be in your pictures when you’re standing on top of it.
Luckily, there’s the – less famous, but not less iconic – Tour de Montparnasse. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of it? Maybe because it’s slightly off the beaten path, many regular tourists don’t find their way to Montparnasse. But if you didn’t know, now you know! Admittedly, the tower itself is not as pretty as the Eiffel Tower. It is, in fact, a very regular looking skyscraper (the first one in Paris, actually, built in 1973).
However, the views are just to die for, especially if you head up in time for sunset. I cannot begin to describe the wonderful atmosphere I witnessed up there, with people chilling on the roof (there is a big rubbery space covering the middle of the roof to comfortably sit on, and a limited number of lounge chairs near the rooftop bar), enjoying champagne, and waiting for the sun to set right behind the Eiffel Tower.
That’s right. The single most important reason for this rooftop view being one of the best in Paris, is the simple fact that you’ll see the Eiffel Tower like you’ve never seen it before. It alligns perfectly with the modern district La Défense behind it, and I can guarantee you’ll take some of the best pictures of Paris.
Where to find it: 33 Avenue du Maine
Nearest metro stop: Montparnasse (lines 4, 6, 12 and 13)
Tickets: Adults €18 / under-18s and student €15
Opening times: Open daily from 9:30 am to 10:30 pm Sunday to Thursday / 9:30 am to 11 pm Friday to Saturday.
When planning your visit, don’t forget to check their website in advance and book your tickets (https://www.tourmontparnasse56.com/en/). You might also want to keep an eye out for cool events, such as morning yoga sessions – if that’s not yoga with a view, I don’t know what is!
2. Eiffel Tower
The Iron Lady probably doesn’t need an extensive introduction. With the lush green Champs de Mars on one side, and the beautiful Jardins du Trocadéro on the other, this icon definitely offers one of the best views in town. Being a major tourist attraction, though, a visit to the Eiffel Tower requires some preparation and patience.
While the views are definitely worth it, I feel visiting this monument should come with a fair warning. Besides the usual pains (booking in advance highly recommended, limited time slots, crowds), the safety checks and waiting lines were inhumanly long. There were muliple lines, in fact, even when having booked the tickets in advance. The security check alone involved about an hour of queuing up. Then, once you get in the elvator to the 2nd floor, there’s yet another line to wait in, this time for the elevator to the top. This one took about an hour waiting in the line, too, in the sun. If nothing else, bringing your own bottle of water and sunscreen will significantly lower your suffering.
Where to find it: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France
Nearest metro stop: Bir Hakeim (line 6), best viewed from Trocadéro (lines 9 and 6)
Tickets: Adults with lift access to top €25,90
For online bookings and current updates on opening times, I highly recommend to check https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/rates-opening-times beforehand.
*Update: The Eiffel Tower is to reopen to public on June 25, 2020. Online booking is now open. In the first week, the lifts will not be operating. From July 1, the Eiffel Tower will be accessible till the 2nd floor only. Wearing a mask (over the age of 11) will be compulsory during your visit.
If you’re craving a more authentic and relaxed experience, forget the 7th arrondisement, and head over to Montmartre instead. Surely, this popular area needs little introduction. Made especially famous through the film Le Fabuleux Destins d’Amélie Poulain (one of my favourite films of all times!), it has won over both locals’ and visitors’ hearts a long time before that.
Montmartre, the artistic heart of Paris, has always been a safe haven for bohémiens like Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as a welcome refuge for writers and free-thinkers ( amongst others, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gerturde Stein spent a significant part of their productive years living in Paris, and frequently wrote about it).
Due to its rich history, you could easily spend days just rambling around Montmartre itself. At every corner, you will encounter countless musea and statues, as well as extremely photogenic charming little cafés. And then there are the stairs; the famed stairs leading up to La Butte, with the proud white Basilica of the Sacred Heart perched on top. Ok, there’s also a funicular that will bring you right to top of the hill, but hey, don’t spoil the fun.
If you want to see one of the hidden gems of Paris, don’t miss the opportunity to climb the famous stairs leading up to the Sacré Coeur, wher you can take in the breathtaking views of Paris from a different angle. And if you do the legwork, don’t forget to look right when you’re reaching the last flight of stairs – you’ll find one of the coolest optical illusions in Paris: the Sinking House. I was surprised to learn many people don’t know about it’s existence, and admittedly, I only spotted it by complete accident, too. But if you take the main stairs, facing the famous Sacré Coeur basilica, you can’t miss it!
4. Sacré Coeur
So here you are, after a solid climb, standing on top of the stairs leading to the beautiful basilica of the Sacred Heart. What a sight! Not only is the church itself gorgeous, its white towers glinstering in the sun; the views from here are unbeatable, too. It feels like you can see the whole of Paris. But wait a minute – what if I told you the view can only get better? If you’re willing to take it a step further (pun intended!), you should not miss the opportunity to climb up the main dome of Sacré Coeur! The views, I promise, will take your breath away.
The good news is, it doesn’t cost an arm and an leg to go up there. The bad news is, you actually have to climb the stairs to enjoy these views – over 300 of them. It is not for the fainthearted, and I would not recommend doing this at the end of the day, when you’ve already walked 30,000 steps around Montmartre (ehm). But as I told myself, you only live once. You also only die once, and even though I almost died going up the last flight of curvy stairs, je ne regret rien.
Where to find it: Montmartre (18th arrondisement)
Nearest metro stop: Abbesses (line 12) or Anvers (line 2)
Opening hours: daily from 8.30a.m. to 8p.m. (May to September) and 9a.m. to 5p.m. (October to April)
Tickets: €6, can be purchased on the spot (entrance on the left side of the basilica)
5. Galleries Lafayette
I believe the iconic Haussman galleries require little introduction; besides utterly unaffordable shopping opportunities, the glass ceiling of the famous Parisian galleries is a feast for the eye. The shopping galleries are covered by a gigantic glass dome, buitl in 1912 in the inimitable Art Deco style. Both its gilded galleries and colourful glass mosaics are bound to take your breath away. And that is just the interiors! The best part is awaiting you when you head up to the rooftop – for free! Just take the elevator (or climb the stairs) all the way up to the 6th floor, and enjoy the view of Opera Garnier, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. You can also enjoy a drink in one of the fancy igloos in their rooftop bar.
Unlike the other sights mentioned above, the best time to visit the Galleries Lafayette is actually the winter. For one, you’ll be able to take a picture of their fairy-tale Christmas tree, which is simply a must. But in addition, in the winter, their rooftop turns into one giant ice-rink, which I think is a recommendation in itself. And if you go just before Christmas, you might decide to splurge a bit after all, and treat yourself to some Dior. Either way, you won’t regret going in, and checking out this beautiful place – and while you at it, you might as well take the opportunity to take a picture on their inside glass walk.
Where to find it: Hausmann 40 Boulevard
Nearest metro stop: Chaussee d’Antin-la-Fayette (line 7 and 9)
Tickets: FREE entry (subject to availability, often closed due to bad weather conditions)
Bonus tip: L’Arc de Triomphe
This one is on my bucket list for my next visit to Paris. The queues were just too long the last time I stopped by, which is yet another proof that booking in advance is a necessity. But from what I’ve heard (and seen many times on Instagram), going all the way up the popular arch is worth the wait. Once on top, you’ll be able to amire the views of the famous Champs Élysées, all the way up to the Eiffel Tower.
But even if you decide (or don’t get the chance) to go up the viewing gallery, the Arc de Triomphe is well worth stopping by – even if it’s just to admire the Frenchies navigating the traffic there, while quietly thanking God for having made the decision to come by train. Besides one hell of a roundabout, it is one of the icons of Paris, without any doubt, and a popular photo spot – for obvious reasons.
Where to find it: Place Charles de Gaulle
Nearest metro stop: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile (lines 1, 2 and 6)
Tickets: €13 for adults / FREE for under-18s and EU citizens aged 18-25
For bookings and current opening times, go to http://www.paris-arc-de-triomphe.fr/en/ .
So, which one of these popular viewpoints is your favourite? Have you visited all of them? If you want to share any more tips for the best views in Paris, please share in the comments!