Most people will find themselves taking in an aerial view of their surroundings whilst on a city break – be it a rooftop bar, restaurant or a monument with a viewing platform. When in Paris, the first thing I want to do is hop onto the Metro in order to see the Iron Lady at Bir-Hakeim. Why do I want to do this? No idea – for one reason or another, I have completely romanticised the Eiffel Tower.
However, I certainly don’t think that the Eiffel Tower offers the best aerial view of the city. The height certainly enables the farthest reaching views of the ‘City of Love’, but I can’t help but think that something crucial is missing from the landscape. Ultimately, I guess, that scanning the city without being able to see the world-famous structure itself in view seems somewhat odd. Yes, the views of the Longchamp racecourse and of the River Seine are lovely – but I’d rather be gazing at the Eiffel Tower, as opposed to being stood on it’s “troisieme etage”.
Alternatively, I would suggest that visitors to Paris check out an aerial view of a city from the following:
The Arc de Triomphe is a beautiful arch at the western end of the Champs-Elysees, which was built between 1806-1836. The Arc was commissioned following the victory at Austerlitz by Napoleon and has continued to serve as the rallying point for French troops after successful military events since then.
Standing at an overall height of 50metres, the building is considerably smaller than the Eiffel Tower (which is 324metres at its highest point) but the views are magnificent. Visitors can see down the twelve avenues that radiate out from the Arc, most famously including the bustling Champs-Elysees. The Arc also offers fabulous views over to the Grand Arche at La Défense, Europe’s largest purpose built commercial hub.
Entry Price: 13 Euros for a full price ticket; free to under 18’s and members of European Union nations under the age of 26
Opening Times: All year excluding French bank holidays; 10:00-22:30 in Winter, 10:00-23:00 in Summer. GIVEN THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, CHECK BEFORE YOUR VISIT
Unfortunately, access to the top of the Arc de Triomphe is by stairs only.
It must be said that the Montparnasse Tower is far from aesthetically pleasing. It really is a blot on the Parisian landscape when seen from any of my other suggested viewpoints. If you’ve been to the city, you probably know which structure I mean without further clarification – but, for the benefit of others, it’s effectively a huge, black, rectangular-shaped office building among a city of low-rise, white-washed buildings.
However, the Observation Deck in the Montparnasse Tower is quite spectacular – so much so that the Deck has coined the hashtag #thebestviewofparis. The view to the west of the city is beautiful, overlooking the golden-roofed Les Invalides and onto the Eiffel Tower. The Observation Deck has a bar which I assume must be lovely in summer as unfortunately I have only visited once – and it was raining. Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy une bière inside! My only flaw is that there is a huge graveyard next to the Tower, so it takes pride of place in all views to the east of the city.
Entry Price: Adult entry is 18 Euros for one visit, or 23 Euros for two visits (day and night) in 48 hours
Opening Times: Open all year round, from 09:30-23:30. The last lift to the deck leaves at 23:00. GIVEN THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, CHECK BEFORE YOUR VISIT
Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur
By far one of my favourite places in the city is Montmartre. It is a hill of 130 metres in height, upon which the beautiful, gothic Sacre-Coeur church sits. The hill has given its name to the surrounding district, which used to be a prime location for artists to live and to work – including Monet, Renoir and Degas.
If you get off of the Metro at Anvers, it’s a brief two minute walk uphill to the foot of the Sacre-Coeur. You then need to follow the winding paths (or pay for the lift up the hill!) up to the church for the most beautiful widespread views across the city. Be careful to dodge the street sellers en route! You can then spot sights such as the Notre Dame and the Pomidou Centre, the modern art gallery, but unfortunately the Eiffel Tower is slightly tucked out of sight from the majority of the viewpoint. Nevertheless, climbing to the viewpoint is both free and excellent exercise after you’ve gorged on baguette and fromage throughout your trip!
Entry Price: Free!
Opening Times: All day and night!
Living in England, I am very fortunate to be close enough to have visited Paris quite a few times. If you are visiting the city for the first time, I guess it is almost obligatory to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower to cross this off of your bucket list! If so, entry prices are 25.90 Euros for adult tickets and opening times vary throughout the year: check out the official website for more information: https://www.toureiffel.paris/en