The best views of Paris?
It’s hard to ignore the Tour Montparnasse. This 210 metre high skyscraper dominates the skyline on the southern fringes of central Paris. Its monolithic appearance has often been criticised as incongruous or inappropriate for this proudly elegant city.
Properly known, but never referred to, as the Tour Maine-Montparnasse, it was built in the early 1970s around the time of my first ever visit to the city in 1971. The criticism it received led to a ban on the construction of buildings over seven stories high in the city centre. It remained the tallest building in the city until 2011 (the Tour Eiffel is taller but is of course not a building). In that year the Tour First in La Défense was extended in height and is now taller. But that lies technically outside the centre.
Visiting the tower
Enough of the facts. Although primarily an office block, the top of the skyscraper, as with so many around the world, is open to the public as a viewing terrace. Many say that it offers the best views of Paris, in part because from the top you cannot see the unattractive building itself! In all our many visits to the city neither of us had ever been up the tower, so on this most recent visit we resolved to rectify that.
On a sunny Saturday morning we took the Metro to the station near the foot of the tower. There we paused to get some closer photos.
We then walked over to the tower. After showing our pre-booked tickets and passing through an airport-like security check, we were ushered into a lift that took us to the 56th floor. Here there is a café, a gift shop and already some excellent views, but through glass. So we headed up the three flights of stairs to the 59th floor roof terrace. This too is surrounded by glass., for safety of course. But there are very helpful viewing spaces at the perfect height for a camera lens, so photography is much easier.
The weather was perfect and we spent some time here taking lots of photos. I enjoyed picking out many of the city’s most famous landmarks. Sophia has chosen the ideal Lens Artists challenge theme for me this week, Urban Environments, as it gives me an excuse to share a selection of these Parisian cityscapes.
The roof terrace
I also enjoyed taking some candid shots of the other tourists enjoying the views, and even snapped an unusual selfie! The terrace is well laid-out with seating, quirky signs and interestingly placed mirrors. And on this sunny morning no one seemed in a hurry to leave, yet it wasn’t crowded.
The 56th floor
On our way down we spent a little time exploring the 56th floor. I found that despite the glass I could get some pleasing and rather different shots here. Unlike on the roof terrace, it was possible to look directly down to the streets far below. I spotted an unusual apartment block and a classic Parisian café terrace.
So are these the best views of Paris? I’m not sure, as I love to see the city from any angle. But they are certainly great views. We were both so pleased we’d finally got around to visiting the Tour Montparnasse.
I last visited Paris in September 2022 when all but two of these photos were taken (the exceptions are noted in the captions)
Such amazing captures.
Thank you 🙂
Thanks Leela, glad you liked them 🙂
Great views of Paris! I am not a Paris fan though, but pictures from there are beautiful. I had some unpleasant tours to the city as a young girl and with my children later. Maybe people have changed now!
That’s a shame. I know Parisians have a reputation as being unfriendly but we have never found them so, even many years ago. If you can attempt a few words in French it helps of course 🙂 Maybe you could give it another chance one day?
Amused by your comment that the views were great FROM the tour but not OF the tower, Sarah. Even though I’ve been to Paris a few times, I don’t remember seeing the tower at all. You captured some marvelous views.
Thank you Annie 🙂 I think somehow your eyes filter out the tower because there are so many lovely buildings to distract you from it!
I’d never have thought of it… I’ll definitely include it if I ever get back to that beautiful city.
Do – it’s really worth the time and the entrance fee!
Amazing photos of Paris!
Thanks so much, glad you like them 🙂
Oh I can’t wait to see these views when we go to Paris this fall!
You’re going to love it!
Remember staying in a hotel very close to the tower….year 2000 I think….and going up to get those views. My favourite view of Paris though is sitting at the Trocadero looking past the Eiffel Tower towards Montparnasse…..
Yes, that’s a great spot 🙂 I also like looking from the Pont des Arts towards the islands, and of course the terrace in front of the Sacre Coeur is great too. But is there a bad view of Paris?
No there’s probably not….sitting at Cafe St Michel looking across the Seine ain’t bad either!
WOW. GREAT views!! Different!
Thanks John, I’m happy you liked them 🙂
Aletta - nowathome
Thank you for sharing Sarah! I have never been to Paris before!
I hope you get to see it for yourself one day. It’s such a beautiful city 🙂
Aletta - nowathome
Hope so too!
Stunning views across Paris Sarah, I agree with John that it would be hard to imagine a finer vantage point.
Thank you Leighton, glad you liked the views 😀
If those aren’t the best views of Paris, I don’t know what tops them. You are brave to take the photos looking down from the 56th floor.
Well there was glass between me and the drop of course – I couldn’t do it without 😆
I. J. Khanewala
I haven’t been up there ever. Great views. The ones you touched up are really crisp and nice.
Thank you 🙂 To be honest I touched them all up a little to reduce haze, but there’s still some haze on the most zoomed-in shots and it also depends a bit on the direction I was shooting in of course.
Mike and Kellye Hefner
Another item for my “if I ever get to Paris” list. Thank you for sharing, Sarah.
Definite add it to that list! I hope you do make it one day 🙂
the eternal traveller
I must remember to go here if we go to Paris again.
Do, we thought it really worthwhile 🙂
What a fabulous tour! Love how you capture from the top! Great photo selections.
Thanks so much Amy, glad you enjoyed it 😊
Great views. Shame about the building!
Yes, it’s all wrong for Paris but without it we wouldn’t get these views!
Every cloud ….
Loved this! There’s a nice view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe too, but I love all your views. Your post made me miss Paris.
Gosh, I haven’t been up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe since I was a teenager on my first visit to Paris!! You can see the people there in my photo on this page if you look carefully. Maybe we should go up again when we pay next year’s visit to Paris 🙂
Great city tour Sarah! I don’t think the building is ugly. Loved your images of it.
Thanks Anne 😀 It wouldn’t necessarily be ugly in New York City, say, but it doesn’t ‘fit’ Paris!
Fun approach Sarah! I agree it’s a bit of an eyesore but ooh la la, those views!!! Loved your choice this week!
Thank you Tina 🙂 Commenting seems to be working OK again now!
Great views of Paris!
Thank you Don – we were very fortunate with the weather that day (and all weekend!)