Punctuated by cathedral steeples, lush rooftop terraces and larger-than-life historic monuments, you could easily spend most of your day looking upwards at Paris’ gorgeous skyline. Climb higher though and you’ll be rewarded with even better views. From towers to bridges, we show you the best places to admire Paris from above.
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The lone skyscraper in Paris’ skyline may sometimes seem a bit out of place, but the 360-degree view of the entire city from the Montparnasse Tower is unmatched. Located across from the Montparnasse SNCF and Metro station in the 14th, the rooftop terrace can be reached in less than a minute by elevator, where you can enjoy a breath of fresh air as you gaze over the City of Light and take some spectacular photos.
You could people-watch for hours on The Paris Metro System as it travels through a maze of dark tunnels, but Metro Line Six provides a brighter, more picturesque view above ground. From the tracks above the streets, you can gaze upon classic Parisian apartment buildings and the unique graffiti and street art on the sides of buildings. Look down to see narrow streets lined with busy cafes and bustling boulangeries, and as you approach Bir-Hakeim station, you can see the distinct top of a certain famous tower.
A short walk from the Metro, the Bir-Hakeim Bridge, with its steel construction and double-level, is a sight to behold all on its own, but from the lookout facing east, the view of Quai Branly is absolutely breath-taking, regardless of the time of day or year. This bridge is a popular spot for wedding photographers, and with the Eiffel Tower on one side and L’Île-aux-Cygnes, on the other, it’s not hard to see why.
This ‘new bridge’ spans both sides of Île-de-la-Cite and is home to lovely views of the bell towers of the great Notre Dame Cathedrale, the former department store La Samaritaine, and the Theatre Châtelet. Tucked below the bridge is the charming Square du Vert Galant, a park shaped like the bow of a ship where you can see the edge of the Musée du Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the golden dome of Les Invalides in the distance.
To experience a unique mash-up of urban architecture and a quiet pastoral space, follow the path of the old Vincennes train line on a trek through La Coulee Verte. This linear park winds its way through the 12th arrondissment and over the city streets where the train once ran, and is accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. From the top of the Vivaduc des Arts, you’ll feel as if you’re caught between the busy traffic below and the calm swaying trees and clouds above.
Get some cardio and leg exercise done as you climb the narrow, winding staircase to the top of one of the most recognizable monuments in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe. Catch your breath as you look out at the streets that spiral out from the center point of the Arc, and watch the cars zip round the dizzying traffic circle below as you plan your next move.
Become a kid again for a moment while you take in the glee of a carnival ride on the Ferris Wheel at Concorde. Feel the breeze through your hair as you circle high above the city, look down along the Champs Elysees and wave at the people on top of the Arc de Triomphe to one side, and admire the immaculate tops of the Tuileries hedges, as well as the impressive pyramid and the Palais du Louvre in the distance.
After an extensive day spent exploring the public library or the modern art exhibits at the Centre Pompidou’s Musee National d’Art Moderne, unwind on the rooftop terrace’s lounge Le Georges. It’s a popular place to gather, so make a reservation to guarantee yourself a seat. The décor is eye-catching and so is the view; you can catch glimpses of the nearby Hotel de Ville, Cathédrale Notre Dame, and Le Marais just by turning your head.
To experience some of the best sunset and nighttime views of Paris, check out Le Perchoir, a rooftop cocktail bar at two distinct locations; in the 11th arrondissment and on top of the BHV Marais. Relax on the couches or at the snug tables with a cocktail, and let the setting sun and romantic atmosphere work its magic. It fills up quickly during peak times, so get there early.
Check out the beautiful, if pricey, clothes, shoes and jewelry at Printemps, one of Paris’ luxury department stores, and then head up to enjoy the free panoramic view of Boulevard Haussmann from the terrace. The ornate architecture of the building’s roof and the apartment buildings along the boulevard draw the eye, and the façade of Palais Garnier, with its golden rooftop statues, is also visible from this special spot.
At Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th, you can experience climbing an actual mountain right in the heart of Paris. This park has everything you could need for a day with the family or by yourself outdoors; walking trails, playgrounds, a lake, water fountains, and restaurants, plus lots of benches and places to relax and take in the scenery. The view from the mountain top is stunning, with the Sacre-Coeur visible in the distance among the rooftops of Paris.