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Despite its many vaunted attractions and treasures, there’s nothing better than a Paris bird’s eye view. Chimney pots and Haussmannian boulevards seem to stretch endlessly and romantically into oblivion. The only question is…where are the best bird’s eye views of Paris?
Being young in Europe has its perks. Amongst them: Free visits to national monuments. I took advantage and climbed the Arc de Triomphe on a sunny fall day for some skyline photos. One of my favorites is actually of La Défense — the “Wall Street” of Paris and often forgotten. There’s not much to do there but the silhouette is interesting and it’s worth one visit. I hope you enjoy!
Visiting the Arc de Triomphe for a Bird’s Eye View of Paris
Place Charles de Gaule, 75008
Métro line 1, 2, 6 & RER A; Charles de Gaulle
Open every day beginning at 10h
Full price 12€
Free < 26 years old
Other Locations for a Paris Bird’s Eye View
Here are some other places that will give you a great vantage point of Paris’ skyline. I haven’t been to all of them, but will update this post as I do.
Panthéon: Underrated Paris Bird’s Eye View
Head to the Latin Quarter for a visit to the Panthéon, where you can climb up to the dome for spectacular views. This is also where France’s most distinguished men (and recently, women) are interred. After you’ve soaked in the views (and the history), explore all the Quartier Latin has to offer, from the rue Moufftard to the Jardin des Plantes.
Cathedral Notre Dame
One restored and reopened, a climb up the bell towers is high on my list. You’ll get a peek into the winding streets of Île de la Cité and an up-close view of the imposing gargoyles.
Sacre Coeur Basilica
For a truly spectacular Paris bird’s eye view, you’ll have to climb up the dome of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. Even from the base, the vantage point is quite good since Montmartre sits on a hill. And, if you wander in the direction of the Salvador Dalí museum, you’ll catch the Eiffel Tower peeking between buildings on a wintry day.
Tour Saint Jacques: The Hidden Paris Bird’s Eye View
In Le Marais, you can climb up the Tour Saint Jacques. It’s a little deceiving as it’s located in a small park and often looks closed. The tower is open Friday-Sunday, and you’ll need a ticket.
I personally think that this tower is a blot on the landscape (many French will agree), but the observation deck offers some of the best bird’s eye views around. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy on the deck, from concerts to trampolines.
Of course, everyone wants to see the Iron Lady, but climbing up yields a pretty landscape, too. The fancy ones can grab a drink or bite to eat at the restaurant, but you don’t need to do either to feel like Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face.”
This is an underrated modern and contemporary art museum in Le Marais that boasts amazing views of the city. Be sure to peruse the collections on your way out.
BHV Rooftop Bar
The locals know this is a good, secret spot for rooftop views of Paris. Called Le Perchoir Marais, it’ll have you sipping cocktails right next to city hall.
Galleries Lafayette & Printemps
A (first) trip to Paris is not complete without a visit to two of the city’s most famous department stores, both of which boast amazing Paris bird’s eye views in their own right.