Every time I travel to a new city, I always try to not only visit its iconic landmarks but also observe the city from a different perspective. Looking through a bird’s eye point of view gives you a picturesque sight of all the landmarks together, an idea of their scale, and how the city is connected and comprised.
Paris has always been and will always be one of the most beautiful cities on my list. If you’re visiting, I would strongly recommend that you take a step back to discover the incredible view of the city from above. One unique thing about Paris is that the viewpoints I’m about to tell you are also the city’s landmarks themselves. Some spots are pretty obvious, while others are not so well-known. Here are the views that made it to the top of my list:
1. La Tour Eiffel
This one needs no introduction, as it’s one of the most visited attractions in Paris. Climbing the Eiffel Tower is at the top of many people’s Paris wishlists, so always expect a long line no matter what time of day it is. To reach the first and second levels, take the stairs or a hydraulic elevator that moves diagonally up the tower’s legs. The views from the second level at 115 meters are already spectacular, and you’re not even halfway up. Then it’s another 160 meters straight up to the peak.
My husband and I chose to go at night during our last days living in Paris. Our last glimpse of the city of lights from its iconic tower was an unforgettable farewell. The view was breathtaking. Yet, you would feel something missing; the Eiffel Tower is nowhere to be seen, as you are currently on it!
2. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
Another iconic view not to be missed is from the top of Montmartre Hill, where you can find the magnificent Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Being the second-highest point in Paris, you’ll have an amazing 360° view over the entire city on a clear day. Climb up the stairs or ride the funicular to reach the front of the basilica and enjoy the view. It’s also a popular destination, so expect a huge crowd of people at the top. If you want to go even higher, go inside the building and find your way to the top of its dome. There you’ll find an unobstructed view of the city with a little more peace and quiet, which comes with an extra price.
3. Arc de Triomphe
Not necessarily the highest point to view the city, however, the Arc de Triomphe offers a unique standpoint because of its unparalleled location. The Arc is located at the end of the Champs-Élysées, captivated by an enormous roundabout where 12 roads radiate outward, called the Etoile (star). It forms an axis through the center of Paris that leads from the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to la Grande Arche de la Défense. The Arc may not look that tall, yet prepare to climb 100 spiral stairs to reach the top, where you’ll be greeted with a mesmerizing view of the Eiffel Tower, Tuileries Gardens, and Place de la Concorde, as well as the insane traffic below.
4. Tour Montparnasse
This building may not be as attractive as the other landmarks that made the list, but the view from its top floor will blow you away. Some might even say it has the best view of Paris, simply because it’s the only place where you can’t see the infamous tower. You can easily spot this towering building from afar; at 210 meters tall, it’s the tallest and the only skyscraper located in Paris’ city center, where most buildings don’t rise above 30 meters.
The tower is mostly occupied by offices, but there are 2 levels open to the public: the 56th floor, which is enclosed by windows, and the observation terrace on the roof, which offers an open 360° view of the city. Not many tourists know this, so it’s way less crowded; there’s hardly ever a line. I would also be clueless if it weren’t for my aunt’s friend, who generously invited me and my cousin for lunch on the 56th floor, where we dined with a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower.
5. Galeries Lafayette Hausmann
Galeries Lafayette on Hausmann Boulevard is well known for its glamorous window displays, great selection of high-end products, and beautiful architecture. However, not many people know that on top of the building, there is a lovely roof-top terrace that is accessible to the public – for free! See, not all great viewpoints cost money! Just head to the seventh floor, where you’ll be welcomed by a 360° view across the surrounding Paris skyline. There is also a bar and a restaurant if you’d like to soak up the view with a bite to eat.
6. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (before the fire)
Before the cathedral was closed for renovations after the devastating fire in 2019, I was lucky enough to experience the iconic gargoyle’s view of Paris from its tower. The main reason I was so eager to go up this specific landmark was to see for myself what Quasimodo’s (from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame) view was like each day! And sure enough, it was stunning! Prepare your comfiest shoes though, because you’ll have to endure a couple of hundred stairs before you can reach the breathtaking (literally) view! Unfortunately, due to its closure, you will not be able to experience this any time soon. It is predicted that Notre Dame will only reopen in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Fingers crossed!
There you have it: beautiful landmarks to view the beautiful city of lights from above! Consider altering your visits between the day and at night because, although it’s the same city, it will give you different vibes! This blog entry was inspired by Tantangan Blogging Mamah Gajah Ngeblog April theme, City Landmarks.