Where to get the best angle on the City of Lights.
By far and large, the best way to experience the beauty of Paris is by climbing the monuments that tower over the city’s skyline. Thanks to Haussmann’s 19th century demolition renovation of Paris, buildings over six stories are few and far between. Here are the top five places to see Paris from above the rooftops.
1. NOTRE DAME
A long line off to the side of the Cathedral marks the entrance to the top of Notre Dame. The line is long but well worth the wait. 387 steps lead you to a view overlooking the Seine with the Eiffel Tower off in the distance and gargoyles that share the view with you.
Tips: Go earlier in the morning when it first opens to beat the rush. There is also no elevator, so wear good shoes.
2. THE EIFFEL TOWER
The lines may be long but they are well worth it. Plus, if you’re an organized individual you can reserve your tickets beforehand and cut the wait time in half. An elevator or stairs take you to the second level where everyone stops. If you pay a bit more you can go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower, which is a bit windy depending on the day but nonetheless a cool experience. From both levels you can enjoy the view over the Seine, Place du Trocadéro and the Champ de Mars. The Eiffel Tower has a couple indoor gift shops and cafés that you can enjoy from the tallest structure in Paris.
3. THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Overlooking the Champs Elysées, the view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe highlights the exquisite boulevards of Paris that span out in every direction. The view is one of my favorites and the perfect place to snap a photo with the Eiffel Tower. After enjoying the view you can explore the monument, taking in the beautiful design and details of the Arch.
4. THE MONTPARNASSE TOWER
A visit to the tower feels a bit commercialized and almost like a French version of the Empire State Building without the long lines. As you exit the elevator a photographer offers to take your photo in front of a backdrop of the city. The 56th floor is indoors and has a cafe and souvenir shop. A short flight of stairs will take you to the terrace, which offers a true panoramic view of Paris. From here you can see the Latin Quarter, Sacré-Cœur, and the Eiffel Tower.
Tip: For a romantic date, grab a glass of champagne at the bar on the terrace and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle which happens every hour on the hour for 5 minutes after the sun sets.
A narrow staircase made up of 300 stairs brings you to the top of the basilica with a one-of-a-kind view from the Montmartre neighborhood. Overlooking the picturesque Parisian rooftops, you can see the Montparnasse Tower, Eiffel Tower and other notable monuments off in the distance. The line is not long and it is not too crowded, but there are quite a few stairs to make it to the top.