As you know, I’ve been living in France for the past two years. With the exception of being home in the States for the summer, I’m abroad most of the year teaching English, and so far, it’s been a great experience.
Considering that I’m in the Normandy region (northwest France), it makes for a *very* convenient trip to Paris, which at least for me this year was only a 45-minute train ride away. Now, I’ve been to Paris countless of times, whether it was to visit or just pass through onto my next destination, but since discovering my renewed appreciation for it last spring, I’ve taken it upon myself this past year to visit more often. Specifically speaking, I aimed to capture the famed “City of Love” from vantage points overlooking the entire city, finding beauty in it and everything.
Interestingly, Paris has many opportunities for these amazing views, and it actually capitalizes on them via tourism. In other words, some monuments (especially tall ones) offer tourists the option of climbing their stairs or taking their lifts to the top, albeit for a price. Luckily, I got an education pass for being a teacher, which entitles me to discounts (even free entrance) at many of these attractions, so you can bet that I went for as many views as possible!
That said, I’ve compiled a list of places that are worth getting views of Paris whilst in the city. Some are well-known whereas others are low-key, but all the same, enjoy the beautiful photos and should you visit anytime soon, perhaps you can see them for yourself, too!
Top 7 Best Views of Paris
1. Eiffel Tower. First off, while I wouldn’t say that this is my absolute favorite place for views of Paris, it’s not a bad one to start off with. Paying to climb the tower is a pain (along with the notoriously-long lines), but the views are pretty decent, especially in the evening.
*Pro-tip: don’t bother going to the very top of the tower (3rd floor), because not only is the line even more insane (and claustrophobic), but also it doesn’t as great of a view compared with the second floor’s. It’s best just to stay on the second floor and take photos, even if the views are obstructed by the metal bars and all.
2. Arc de Triomphe/Arc of Triumph. Probably my second-favorite view in Paris (#1 revealed later in this post). While the top isn’t that high, you can see the Eiffel Tower from the perspective of the Champs-Élysées, which I believe makes for that perfect, albeit cliché, touristy Parisian experience. Plus, it was free for me to enter, education pass and all, which made the experience all the more sweet!
3. Galeries Lafayette. Just like with the Arc de Triomphe, the views from the Galeries Lafayette department store aren’t that high (with the Eiffel Tower a fuzzy distance away), but some people do enjoy the fact that it’s free to access the terrace and get decent views of the Haussmanian buildings sprawled out at eye level, as well as the Opéra Garnier right off to the side.
4. Sacré Coeur dome. Looking at the Sacré Coeur basilica at ground level is one thing, but to climb it is another. There aren’t any discounts for going up (6 euros for adults), but all the same, the views are pretty good. Again, the Eiffel Tower and other notable monuments are a bit far off, but in terms of height, it’s pretty high up to encompass a good radius of the entire city.
5. Notre Dame. This famous monument is located in the very heart of the city, and its lines to climb up rival that with the Eiffel Tower’s! Back in February, I staked my spot half an hour before it opened, and even then, I wasn’t the first one to arrive there for the climb! Again, the views aren’t that high up, but what gives it its charm is the gargoyle statues looking out toward the Seine and Eiffel Tower, thus making for a romantic atmosphere. It’s free for EU citizens and residents, as well as those under 26 years of age!
6. Montparnasse Tower/Tour Montparnasse. My ultimate favorite view! While not cheap (20 euros for a two-time pass), the views are very well the best in the city. The tower itself isn’t the most attractive building, but what it offers, a 360-degree view of Paris–makes it a popular place to go. Plus, the Eiffel Tower appears closer in relation to the tower on the 56th floor, even though geographically-speaking, they’re not that close to begin with!
7. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Although not as well-known as the other places listed, this large but tranquil park near the Belleville district. With a quieter, residential feel to the neighborhood, you can actually spend a day there relaxing with a picnic and enjoying the more-urban view of Paris from the top of its Temple de la Sibylle. No cost to enter, either!
That’s it! I know that there are plenty of other places to view Paris whilst in the capital itself, so consider this list incomplete. I hope to discover more of them when I return to France soon, so until then!
Which views were your favorite? Do you have any other recommendations?
— The Finicky Cynic
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