I recently climbed to the top of the towers of Amiens Cathedral to take in the beautiful views of that city. And as I climbed up the seemingly unending spiral staircase, I realized that it’s been years since I climbed to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Years since I got up close and personal with the gargoyles and took in the beautiful views of the city. And sadly, it will be years before I will be able to take in that particular view again. That being said, there are plenty of other places to visit if you’re looking for a beautiful view of Paris that is just as good as from the towers of Notre Dame. Here are my top five picks.
Arc de Triomphe
The obvious choice to enjoy the views of Paris is from the Eiffel Tower. But what if you want the Eiffel Tower in your view? My personal favourite option is always the Arc de Triomphe. Fair warning. It’s quite the climb to the top. But it is absolutely worth it. You’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city, and with the Eiffel Tower just across the river, you’ll be able to prominently feature Paris’ most iconic monument in all of your photos.
The beautiful basilica that sits atop the hill of Montmartre also sits on one of the best views of the city. You can brave the stairs, or if you prefer, there is a funicular on the west side of the hill available to carry you to the top. It is possible to climb to the top of the Sacre Coeur dome, but the view from the plaza in front of the basilica is just as good. And free!
The Tour Montparnasse is one of the most hated buildings in Paris. It is almost universally loathed by all Parisians; so much so that over the years it’s gained the moniker “The box the Eiffel Tower came in.” Which is why so many people say that the view from the 56th floor is the best in the city. It’s the only place from which you can’t see the tower! At 200 meters, it’s also the highest view of Paris, and it’s absolutely breathtaking.
The Centre Pompidou is another divisive building in Paris. Some people love it. Some people hate it. But regardless of how you feel about the building, you can’t deny that the view from the top floor is spectacular. So once you’ve finished taking in the artwork on display, head to the 6th floor to enjoy a meal at Georges Restaurant. The views of Paris are worth the price of the meal alone.
The Galeries Lafayette are an iconic shopping destination. Especially during the holidays when a gigantic Christmas tree looms large over the historic atrium. But most people don’t realize that there is an observation deck on the top floor of the department store that is free and open to the public. No purchase required for access. So after you’ve taken in the beautiful art deco architecture of the atrium, head to the top floor for a stunning view of Paris. Again, it’s completely free!
All the Views of Paris You Could Want
The skyline of Paris is always a beautiful sight. But with the holiday season just around the corner, it’s about to get a whole lot more sparkly. Let’s just say that this is the time of year when Paris really leans into its nickname of the City of Light. So from wherever you decide to take it all in, I hope you enjoy the view!
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.