Wherever we go, we love to see the cities like Paris from above. It gives a sense of peacefulness. Taking some distance always helps to understand better, and this is also true when visiting a new city.
Seeing things from above like being on the top of the mountain
When you go hiking in the mountains the best reward is reaching the top and contemplating what lays beneath you. I guess growing part-time on the mountain gave me that need of being on the top of things to see them.
Each city is different
Each time we try to find at least one place, depending on the time we have, to see the city from above. In Amsterdam we saw all these delicate roof-lines, in Marrakech a soft yellow-orange sea with scattered minarets and many satellite dishes, for Paris white and grey are dominating with starry shape streets surrounding monuments. In Lyon we saw the city evolving through the centuries, in Toronto, it was a Northern American shape will tall buildings in the centre and a vast area of small houses surrounding it. Each city is different, and this is true from above too!
Where to see Paris from above
In this city, you have many choices to see Paris from above. As there are very few tall buildings, no need to be very high to have Paris surrounding at your feet. Here are few ideas for your next trips.
1- Eiffel Tower
Obvious you’ll say, yes but an excellent point of view to see Paris from above! We often went to the second floor using the stairs. There’s no other way in our opinion to enjoy this open metal gigantic stepladder. Not that we want to compare THE Eiffel Tower to a stepladder, but that was an excellent way to present it to our children so that they were climbing the 745 steps between the ground and the second floor willingly. It’s not as easy to climb the Eiffel Tower, as it is to stare at it from the ground, but our daughter was 3 years old when she climbed the stairs on her own for the first time, so you don’t need to be in an Olympic shape either!
However, the best view to see Paris from above is from the third floor. To go there, you’ll have to take the elevator from the 2nd floor.
You’ll find everything you need to prepare your visit here:
2- Maine Montparnasse Tower
The only skyscraper you’ll find in the very heart of Paris. When this 56 floors tower was built, the inhabitants thought it was so ugly that it was decided to forbid any new building which was more than 7 floors high! Anyway, as it is part of the cityscape, all we have to do is make the best of it, so we can use it as a compass with the Eiffel Tower, to figure out where you are in Paris, or we can take the express elevator to the top and enjoy the view.
It’s one of the few points in Paris, where the Eiffel Tower will look tiny!
To prepare your visit:
3- Arc of Triumph
This one is much smaller than the first two, but impressive all the same. The history surrounding that building is important, but the interest regarding this post remains in the fact that Arc of Triumph is in the centre of what people in Paris called the “Place de l’Etoile” (the Star square). This nickname comes from the fact that some of the most popular and biggest streets in Paris are starting from this square and designing a star all around. Twelve avenues have their starting point! The name was supposed to be “Charles De Gaulle” square, but it never really went through people’s mind so now you will find “Charles De Gaulle – Etoile” to combine the official and unofficial but popular names.
To go up, you’ll have to climb a 284-step spiral staircase. It’s not an open staircase, so the way up may be uncomfortable for some. Don’t worry you can use an elevator to reach the top of the Champs Elysees!
Don’t miss the screen that allows you to look at the Remembrance Flame from above!
To prepare your visit:
4- The Printemps store roof terrace
We love this one, because it’s very easy to reach, the view is not a view of Paris from above, more like a rooftop view of Paris.
In our opinion, it is something typical of Paris: watching Paris from the roof of your building. This is something you can only do if you live in Paris, or if you can visit a friend living in Paris. It’s not given easily to anyone. And it’s on the top list of the romantic evenings in the City of Light. This place is not so romantic because you won’t be alone, but it’s a sparkle of what Paris roof view looks like!
No need for a ticket here, the roof is free to access as long as the store is open. You don’t have to be a customer at the “Deli-cieux” cafe to be allowed to visit the terrace. Simply enjoy.
5- Butte Montmartre
This place is unique as it is not a building. The “parvis” as they say in Paris, meaning the grounds surrounding a monument, is a beautiful point of view over Paris. During springtime, you’ll enjoy the cherry blossoms.
The interesting thing here is that you can wander some charming places to go up and down the famous hill. We advise you to start from the subway station “Anvers.” You can go up using the central stairs in the gardens, or the side stairs. You can also take the funicular. To go down the hill, we love to wander through Abbesses neighbourhood.
Be careful; the “parvis” can be temporarily closed to public access if an important mass is to be celebrated at the “Sacre Coeur.” If influential people are coming, the closest grounds will be closed for the time of the mass for security reasons. Check out the date and hours before going:
6- Grande Arche de la Defense
Further, from central Paris, this place is interesting to visit too. The neighbourhood is the one that represents modern architecture in Paris.
Be careful; schedules are a little tricky, you must know however that the ticket is free on your birthday: (when following this link, if you don’t have the English language website, just allow “Adobe Flash Player” to run so that the language flags will appear.)
7- The Hot Air balloon in Parc Andre Citroen
Another nice view, in a green environment. This website will tell you everything, from the weather forecast to how to access, before deciding to go up in the air! Google gives an excellent translation.
Countless ways to discover
We hope you enjoyed this ride above Paris with us if you want to discover more about this city very dear to us, these are different posts you can find on this blog:
This other book will guide you in some out of the beaten tracks in Paris:
We love this kind of guides; though it can be a little hard to sort out the places, you will enjoy discovering. An interesting read nevertheless.
If you have more time to spend in Paris don’t miss our 2 walks: