Tag Archives: views

A View Over Florence: From the Campanile di Giotti

View of the Duomo complex
The Duomo complex, featuring the dome of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and the belltower, Campanile di Giotti

Along with seeing Michelangelo’s statue of David in the Galleria dell’Accademia, one of my favourite memories of visiting Florence was climbing to the top of the Duomo’s belltower (known as the Campanile di Giotti) and taking in the stunning views of Florence and the Florentine countryside.

The Piazza del Duomo
In the Piazza del Duomo – you can see the line to climb up to the dome in the background.

We were visiting in August, when the whole of Italy succumbs to sticky heat. Our plan was to climb up to the dome of the  Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and we joined the long line of people waving their city maps in front of them in an effort to keep cool. We waited. The line didn’t seem to move. We looked up at the red dome that seemed to dwarf the piazza, and then over to the neighbouring belltower. After sending someone over to perform reconnaissance, our decision was made: While there were at least fifty people in front of us in the line for the Duomo, there was no line for climbing the belltower. It was time to give up on the Duomo.

The belltower, <em>Campanile di Giotti</em>
The Campanile di Giotti, the belltower that forms part of the Duomo complex

We scurried over to the entrance of the fourteenth century Campanile di Giotti, and felt a welcome relief when we stepped inside the cool dark room that served as the gift shop and ticket desk.

We paid our entrance fees, and then the stairs began.

The view of the dome as we reach the halfway point of the climb
The view of the dome as we reached the halfway point of the climb

They were easy at first, and the climb was broken up by three different landings, allowing you to catch your breath and cool down before attempting the next set of stairs. The final staircase proved more interesting than the others. It was very narrow, and if you met someone on the staircase, one of you had to move back to one of flatter parts where the stairs turned the corner, otherwise it was rather difficult to squeeze past everyone. It was hot, hard to climb, and stuffy.

The dome of the Duomo
If we’d waited the extra half an hour in the line for the Duomo, we would have been able to climb just that little bit higher.

414 steps later, we finally found ourselves at the top of the belltower. Even though the Duomo’s dome is taller than the belltower, as we looked over at the people standing on the Duomo’s balcony it didn’t feel like too much of a difference. As we caught our breath, we gazed over the red rooves that hid the narrow streets of Florence. Churches and towers poked up between them. Further on, the city fell away to the green of the countryside.

The tower of the Palazzo Vecchio pops up above the red rooves of Florence
The tower of the Palazzo Vecchio pops up above the red rooves of Florence
Basilica Santa Croce
The gleaming white Basilica of Santa Croce draws your eyes from the red and brown rooves of Florence
The narrow streets of Florence
Florence is home to narrow lanes where the buildings are so close together that you can walk around in the shade – good for hot summer days!
The view from the top of the belltower - down through the middle!
The view from the top of the belltower – down through the middle!
The tower of the Castello Vecchio
The tower of the Castello Vecchio from the top of the belltower

The way down the bell tower was a lot quicker than climbing up (though we still had to press ourselves up against the walls as others climbed up and squeezed past us, and I was worried that I’d slip and fall down the narrow stairs!). As we set foot back in the Piazza del Duomo and looked back up at the top of the campanile, we congratulated ourselves on a successful climb and then bought ourselves a round of gelati as a reward!

From Steel Rigg to Sycamore Gap: How to get to the Robin Hood section of Hadrian’s Wall

Ever since I heard that the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was partly filmed at Sycamore Gap, a section along Hadrian’s Wall, I have wanted to visit it. When I was in the UK last year, I almost booked a day tour that went there, but chose one that went to Alnwick Castle instead. This year, we had a hire car from Europcar, and discovered that it’s quite easy to get to Sycamore Gap – if you know where you’re going.

Hadrian’s Wall and Sycamore Gap in particular, appear in the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as Robin and Azeem (played by Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman) make their way from the English coastline to Nottingham, where Robin first encounters the Sheriff’s men as they trap Little John’s son Wolf up the tree at Sycamore Gap.

Sycamore Gap along Hadrian's Wall, used as one of the filming locations in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Sycamore Gap along Hadrian’s Wall, used as one of the filming locations in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal of information online, and doing a Google search combining ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Hadrian’s Wall’ returned plenty of photos but no directions.

Northumberland National Park does offer a brochure that includes it in one of their Hadrian’s Wall walks, but doesn’t tell you how to get there.

Driving to Steel Rigg Carpark

The easiest place to begin your walk to Sycamore Gap is by parking in the Steel Rigg carpark. (A four pound fee applies but the same all-day ticket can be used in six of the Hadrian’s Wall carparks)

To get there, you need to get on the A69 that runs between Carlisle and Hexham.

Look out for signs for Haltwhistle and Once Brewed. If you follow those signs you should end up in front of the Once Brewed Visitor Information Centre at the stem of a T-Junction. Turn right and then immediately left and follow the road up to the Steel Rigg carpark. (Note: turning left from Once Brewed will take you past Twice Brewed)

How to get from Steel Rigg Carpark to Sycamore Gap

Once you are in Steel Rigg carpark, you will find a gate at the back of the carpark that will take you through to the walking trail. To your left, you will see a lake partially hidden by some hills – if you see this you are in the right place!

Follow the trail (note at some points the dirt and gravel trail disappears and turns to grass) over the first two hills. You should come across a ruin of a Roman fort known as Milecastle 39.

Milecastle 39 along Hadrian's Wall
Milecastle 39 along Hadrian’s Wall. Sycamore Gap is just over the other side of this hill, before the lake.

Sycamore Gap is just over the next hill (if you have gone past the lake you have gone too far). The walking trail winds right around the lone tree, so don’t worry, you won’t miss it!

It took about half an hour for us to walk from Steel Rigg Carpark to Sycamore Gap.

Hadrian's Wall runs through Sycamore Gap
Hadrian’s Wall runs through Sycamore Gap

Whether or not you’re a fan of the movie, Hadrian’s Wall and the surrounding countryside is beautiful (even in low light with winds strong enough to stop you from climbing down a hill!). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is definitely worth the effort of all of those hill climbs!

Climbing the Scott Monument for the best views of Edinburgh

A lone bagpiper plays Amazing Grace as locals hurry along their way to work. The morning sun is hidden behind clouds that threaten rain. We stand on the edge of the East Princes Street Gardens and stare up at the 200 feet tall gothic tower before us: the Scott Monument.

The Scott Monument in the East Princes Street Gardens
The Scott Monument in the East Princes Street Gardens

The largest monument in the world to commemorate a writer, the Scott Monument is dedicated to the life and works of Sir Walter Scott, author of Rob Roy and Ivanhoe.

From ground level, the top of the Scott Monument looks a long way up, much higher than the advertised 287 steps. 287 steps sounds easy (after all, in the last week we’ve conquered the 366 steps in the Belfry in Bruges and the 387 steps of Notre Dame de Paris, not to mention the 669 steps up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower!), but the black spire of the Scott Monument seems like it will take some effort getting to.

After finding the entrance and paying the four pounds to get in, we are presented with certificates certifying that we have climbed all 287 steps. My brother suggests we fill in the certificates and save ourselves the climb. Instead, we begin the ascent.

The certificate for climbing the Scott Monument
The certificate for climbing the Scott Monument

Getting to the first of the four levels feels like an achievement. While the stairs start off being wide, by the time you burst out on to the landing, the staircase walls are literally closing in on you: as you climb up the top of one of the towers and the walls become slanted.

View over the North Bridge from the Scott Monument
View over the North Bridge from the Scott Monument

The view from the first platform is worth the admission alone. You have a 360 degree view over Edinburgh, over to the castle, down Princes Street, across to the North Bridge and Calton Hill and out to the Firth of Forth. There are statues and gargoyles staring down at the people below. On this level, there is also a small museum about Sir Walter Scott and the building of the Scott Monument.

The next set of stairs are noticeably narrower than the first, although the third set are wider.

It’s the fourth (and final) set of stairs that present a problem. Not only are they narrowest stairs but the ceiling becomes lower, too. My 6 foot tall brother was worried he wouldn’t be able to make it to the top because he wouldn’t fit through the narrowing gaps. Though he did make it to the top, the folks at the Camera Obscura would later tell us that a Welsh rugby player hadn’t been so lucky, and needed the fire brigade to come and rescue him when he found himself stuck in the Scott Monument!

It is a bit scary – even though there is a sign at the entrance that you should keep to the right when passing other people on the stairs, you begin to hope you don’t meet anyone coming the other way, because there just isn’t enough room in the stairwell to push past someone, and you don’t want to go all the way back to the previous level only to climb more stairs!

Edinburgh Castle from the Scott Monument
Edinburgh Castle from the Scott Monument

The stairs are all part of the fun, and can easily be forgotten once you’ve made it to the top and can look over one of the best views in Edinburgh (and earned the right to fill in your certificate)!

The Scott Monument as night falls
The Scott Monument as night falls

Have you climbed the Scott Monument? Share your experience in the comments – I’d love to hear what others thought!

The Randomness of Calton Hill

An observatory. A set of Greek columns. A tower. Oh, and a Portuguese cannon. I’m sure they all tie together somehow. But when you first make the climb up to the top of Calton Hill, what you’ll find seems all a bit … random.

Calton Hill
Calton Hill

Scotland’s National Monument

The National Monument
The National Monument on Calton Hill

Firstly, those Greek columns. While they look like they’ve been transplanted from a mountain in Athens, they actually form the National Monument, a memorial to the Scots who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Designed to be a replica of the Parthenon, the monument was left unfinished when funds ran out.

Nelson Monument

Nelson's Monument
Nelson Monument

Always eager to climb up things, I paid the four pounds entrance fee to climb the tallest monument on Calton Hill – Nelson Monument. After being encouraged all the way up the spiral stairs with messages printed on the wall like “You’re almost to the top!” I came out to the viewing deck. It was a bright and sunny day but taking photos proved challenging due to the fact that a strong wind made me cling to the railing so I wouldn’t fly away.

View from Nelson's Monument: Holyrood, Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat
View from Nelson’s Monument: Holyrood, Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat
The Palace of Holyrood House
The Palace of Holyrood House

It was an unbelievable view. You could look down onto the Palace of Holyroodhouse and its gardens, with Arthur’s Seat towering behind it. You could follow the line of Princes Street up to Edinburgh Castle. You could look over the streets of the New Town, or out to the Firth. (I was glad to get back inside the tower and out of the wind, though!)

The view down Princes Street
The view down Princes Street
The view of the North Bridge from Nelson's Monument
The view of the North Bridge from Nelson’s Monument

The City Observatory and Old Observatory House

The Old Observatory House
The Old Observatory House

Amongst the other monuments on Calton Hill, was the Old Observatory House and the City Observatory. The Old Observatory House is actually available to be rented, with accommodation facilities to sleep eight people.

The Portuguese Cannon

Sign describing the Poruguese Cannon

There was no real explanation as to why this was here. It did look cool, though.

Portuguese Cannon
The Portuguese Cannon

The Dugald Stewart Monument and the Best View in Edinburgh

Dugald Stewart Monument
Dugald Stewart Monument – the place to take iconic photos of Edinburgh

If you want the perfect guidebook photo of Edinburgh, this is where to take that photo. Position yourself with the Dugald Stewart Monument to your right, focus on Edinburgh Castle in the background, and you’ll be standing in the spot where it seems that most travel brochures of Edinburgh are taken.

Whether it is for the unlikely collection of monuments or for the panoramic views of Edinburgh and beyond, make sure you include Calton Hill on your Edinburgh itinerary!

A View Over Paris: From The Galeries Lafayette

Did you know that you can look over the rooftops of Paris from the top floor viewing deck of the Galeries Lafayette? From here, you can look down over the busy Boulevard Haussmann and the back of the Opera Garnier, across to La Défense in the distance, or at the domes of the Grand Palais and Les Invalides flanking the Eiffel Tower.

Galeries Lafayette
Looking down the Boulevard Haussmann
The Opera Garnier
The Opera Garnier
View of the Eiffel Tower from Galeries Lafayette
View of the Eiffel Tower from Galeries Lafayette
Looking towards La Défense
Looking over the Opera Garnier towards La Defense
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • The Galeries Lafayette is at 40 Boulevard Haussmann, behind the Opera Garnier
  • Take the escalator up to the top floor and walk out on to the terrace.
  • The closest Metro stop to the Galeries Lafayette is: Opera

 

Do you have a favourite view over Paris? Share it in the comments!

The Best Places to See the Eiffel Tower

As my train pulled in to the Gare d’Austerlitz station and I set foot in Paris for the first time, I had one thought in my mind: When would I get to see the Eiffel Tower?

I couldn’t go to Paris and miss out on seeing the Eiffel Tower, the city’s begrudgingly adopted icon.

While wandering around Montparnasse, I found myself heading towards the golden dome of Les Invalides. I happened to look to my left and there it was, peeking out from behind a row of trees: 312m of iron. I just wanted to spend all afternoon staring at it. How lucky I was to be in Paris, right next to the Eiffel Tower?

As I tore myself away from the view and began exploring Paris, I realised that I shouldn’t have worried about missing out on seeing the Eiffel Tower. As it’s one of the tallest buildings in Paris, it can be seen from almost anywhere.

If you can see the Eiffel Tower from almost anywhere, where should you go?

Up close

The Eiffel Tower
Seeing the Eiffel Tower up close lets you realise how much work was put in to constructing it

To fully appreciate the Eiffel Tower, it’s best to visit it at ground-level. Look up at the 10100 metric tons of iron above your head, and think about how many components (2.5 million rivets and 18000 metal parts!) the tower is made up of. Gawk at the omnipresent lines of people (be on the lookout for scammers!), and while you’re here, why not climb up the Eiffel Tower?

The Eiffel Tower
Getting right up close to the Eiffel Tower lets you see a different side of the tower

From the Champs de Mars

The Eiffel Tower from the Parc du Champs de Mars
The Eiffel Tower from the Parc du Champs de Mars

The Parc du Champs de Mars is a area of lawn that stretches out between the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire. It is a popular place for tourists to bring some baguettes and cheese and have a picnic with a backdrop of one of Paris’s most iconic views.

From the Trocadéro

The view of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro
The view of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro

Across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower is the Trocadéro. You’ll find plenty of coaches dropping their tour groups off here for photo opps, but don’t be deterred (after all, it is one of the best places for photographs!).

From the Seine

The Eiffel Tower from the Pont de la Concorde
The Eiffel Tower from the Pont de la Concorde

Whether you’re floating down the Seine on a boat cruise or crossing one of the famous bridges of Paris, you can’t miss the hazy view of the Eiffel Tower.

From the Towers of Notre-Dame

The Chimera Gallery
The stryga, one of the chimeras, looks out over the Eiffel Tower from the Chimera Gallery from the Towers of Notre-Dame

While you’re whispering in the ears of the chimeras as they stare wistfully out towards the Eiffel Tower, ask them what they were staring at before the tower was constructed! The view from the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris will give you a sense of just how much taller the Eiffel Tower is than the rest of the cityscape.

From the Arc de Triomphe

View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe

One of the closer vantage points to the Eiffel Tower, if it’s busy at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll have to wait (or push your way to the front) to get the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower nestled amongst apartment buildings.

From Montmartre

Glimpsing the Eiffel Tower while wandering around Montmartre
Glimpsing the Eiffel Tower while wandering around Montmartre

Looking out from the top of the Montmartre, you can catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. While it’s too far off to the right to be seen while standing in front of the Sacré-Cœur, the Eiffel Tower reveals itself just as you turn from the Parvis du Sacré-Cœur on to the Rue du Cardinal Guibert.

From the Tour Montparnasse

The Eiffel Tower sparkles
Montparnasse Tower provides the ultimate view of the Eiffel Tower

My favourite view of the Eiffel Tower is from the top of Montparnasse Tower, where you have an unobstructed view of the city skyline and, if you’re there at the right time, the sparkling tower.

Where’s your favourite place in Paris to gaze at the Eiffel Tower? Share it in the comments!

A View Over Paris: From The Eiffel Tower

Climbing the Eiffel Tower is on most travellers’ bucket lists. With visitors being able to climb the tower since it was constructed for the Universal Exhibition in 1889, it is as much an essential part of visiting Paris now as it was back then.

The Eiffel Tower from the Champs-de-Mars
The Eiffel Tower from the Champs-de-Mars

There are many options for going up the tower. You can climb the stairs up to the first and second levels, or save yourself the sweat and hop into an elevator for a less energy-expending climb.

Whichever way you choose to climb the Eiffel Tower, however high you want to go, the view from all levels of the Eiffel Tower is fantastic.

Views from the first level of the Eiffel Tower

First, catch your breath!

Whether you arrived via the elevator or you climbed the 345 stairs, your first glimpse of the views from the Eiffel Tower will leave you a little breathless.

Champs-de-Mars from the first level
Looking down at the Champs-de-Mars from the first level of the Eiffel Tower

On the first floor, you’ll find the 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant as well as an exhibition about the Eiffel Tower, but what you’ll really want to do is look over the Champs-de-Mars and the Trocadéro and take in the views. They’re beautiful.

Got your breath back? Fantastic, because there’s another flight of stairs waiting for you to continue your climb!

The Eiffel Tower
Looking up at the queue on the second floor waiting to take the elevator to the third floor

Views from the second level of the Eiffel Tower

Champs-de-Mars from the second level
Looking down at the Champs-de-Mars from the second level of the Eiffel Tower

The views from the second level of the tower are just as good as the first (Just compare the last few photos!). 58 metres higher than the first level, you may end up with more photos on the second level, especially if you’re intending to catch the elevator up to the third level. The queue for the elevator can be quite long, and being in the queue forces you to move slowly around the second level, giving you the benefit of being able to enjoy the views for longer, and notice things that might otherwise have passed by in a blur.

The Seine
The Seine from the second level of the Eiffel Tower

Views from the third level of the Eiffel Tower

You’ve made it! See all of Paris before you, and take a rest. You’ve earned it!

Champs-de-Mars from the third level
Looking down at the Champs-de-Mars from the third level of the Eiffel Tower

While you could argue that the view on the third level is similar to the other two, on this level, you can show how far you’ve come by pointing your camera downwards. You’re now 276 metres above the ground. Luckily, there’s an elevator waiting to rush you all the way back to ground level!

Looking down from the top of the Eiffel Tower
My favourite photo of the Eiffel Tower: looking straight down from the third level

Do you have a favourite view of Paris? Share it in the comments!

What you need to know:

  • Be prepared to queue. The queue to climb the stairs up the Eiffel Tower is usually shorter than the queue to take the lifts.
  • Details about climbing the Eiffel Tower can be found on on the Eiffel Tower website

A View Over Paris: From the Arc de Triomphe

The first time I went to Paris, I didn’t even think of climbing the Arc de Triomphe. Standing back at a safe distance where I could take a photo of it from across the roundabout was fine with me.

La Défense
The Arc de Triomphe

On my second visit, armed with a Paris Museum card and running out of attractions that were still open, I headed for the Arc de Triomphe, and made the climb up the spiral staircase to the top.

La Défense
Looking towards La Défense

It’s worth visiting the Arc de Triomphe just to spend some time watching the eight lanes of traffic. With everyone on the roundabout stopping to give way to cars yet to come on, it’s a wonder that through all of the chaos no one seems to crash.

Luckily, you don’t have to weave through the cars to start the climb to the top of the Arc – there’s a pedestrian walkway near the Avenue de la Grande Armee that goes underneath the road (take it – it’s a lot safer option!).

View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe

With an almost 360 degree view from the top of the arc, you can see all sides of Paris, from the CBD, the hill of Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, and how Parisians try to get a little bit of greenery into their lives.

Green space in Paris
Green space in Paris
Eiffel Tower
Looking towards the Eiffel Tower
The Sacre Coeur
The Sacre Coeur
View from the Arc de Triomphe
Roads leading from the Arc de Triomphe
Vines from the Arc de Triomphe
Some views of Paris you can only find from the Arc de Triomphe: vines hanging from a building

If you’re there around 6:30PM, there is a daily service where the memorial flame is lit near the tomb of the unknown soldier, as a remembrance for all French soldiers who have fallen in battle.

Memorial flame
Daily lighting of the Memorial flame

So for the chance to be in the middle of one of the world’s busiest roundabouts, climb the Arc de Triomphe and enjoy the view.

The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe

A View Over Paris: From The Towers of Notre-Dame

Staring up at the tower of Notre-Dame de Paris, you think of the bell ringer. The hunchback. Quasimodo.

Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris

Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris and its protagonist Quasimodo, the “Hunchback of Notre-Dame” helped to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining significant medieval buildings and in 1845 brought about a restoration effort by Viollet-le-Duc to revive the neglected cathedral. Ever since, climbing the towers of Notre-Dame has been a must-do for visitors to Paris.

The Chimera Gallery
Chimeras in the Chimera Gallery – including one that appears to be not fully formed

As you climb the narrow steps up to the top of the tower, look around at the windows and the stairs and feel the cold tower wall. When Victor Hugo came here and explored the towers, he came across the Greek word ANAKH, which means ‘fate’. It was one of the sources of inspiration for his novel, and if you pay attention perhaps you can find your own story inspiration carved into the stone.

The Chimera Gallery
The stryga, one of the chimeras, looks out over the Eiffel Tower from the Chimera Gallery

After you reach the top of the first staircase, you find yourself in the Chimera Gallery. Here, you can see why Disney chose to use the chimeras as Quasimodo’s companions in their 1996 animated film The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. They all seem to have their own unique characters as they stare out past the cathedral and over the city of Paris. Each is carved in such detail, it’s like they were meant to be on display for people to climb the towers to see them.

The Chimera Gallery
A wyvern looks down from the Chimera Gallery

As you move slowly along the Chimera Gallery, they’re everywhere. It’s a testament to the skill of the stonemasons, who must have spent months and years following Viollet-le-Duc’s designs. You could become so absorbed in picking out the different animals that you could forget to look at the view!

View of the Panthéon
Looking from Notre Dame out over the hill of Sainte-Geneviève and the Panthéon

After you’ve taken in the Chimera Gallery (and ducked in to the South Tower’s belfry – mind your step! – to see Emmanuel, the cathedral’s largest bell weighing in at over 13 tonnes!), you have another staircase to ascend, which takes you to the very top of the South Tower for a 360 degree view of Paris.

The Place du Parvis-Notre-Dame
Looking out over the Place du Parvis-Notre-Dame

The view of Paris changes depending on where you are. From the Towers of Notre-Dame, higgledy-piggledy rooftops hide streets and almost take over the Seine. Only the spires of churches, domes of palaces and the very tops of towers can be seen.

Don’t forget to look down over the cathedral itself and admire the architecture of the catchments that carry rain water to spout from the mouths of the gargoyles, to the flying buttresses that support the cathedral walls.

Looking down over the cathedral
Looking down over the cathedral’s flying buttresses and gargoyles that spout water when it rains

Whether or not you find story inspiration and go on to write a bestseller like Victor Hugo, take the time to climb the Towers of Notre-Dame and you will find one of the best views over Paris.

Do you have a favourite view of Paris? Share it in the comments!

What you need to know:

A View Over Paris: From Montparnasse Tower

The French writer Guy de Maupassant reputedly said that the best view of Paris was from the Eiffel Tower, because he could look out over Paris and not have to see the tower itself. Many people hold the same view of Montparnasse Tower (Tour Montparnasse) – the sleek black skyscraper, that looks out of place amongst the older buildings of Paris.

Montparnasse Tower
Montparnasse Tower: a skyscraper consisting of mostly offices. The 56th floor and the terrace are open to visitors.

While I do feel sorry that the tower gets such a bad rap, the truth is that these people are right: the views from the topmost floors of the tower are amazing, and you could spend hours here picking out the landmarks.

Les Invalides from Montparnasse Tower
Les Invalides as seen from Montparnasse Tower

Make sure you get out on the terrace for the best view

Montparnasse Tower is essentially an office building, with the 56th floor turned in to a panoramic viewing area for tourists. From here you can see iconic buildings such as Notre-Dame de Paris, Les Invalides, the Louvre, the Sacré Cœur, the twist of railway lines beyond the Gare Montparnasse and, of course, a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. There are also interactive panels, a photo exhibition, a gift shop and a café.

While the view from the 56th floor is great, if you want to take photos you have to deal with potential glare and windows smudged with fingerprints. If you turn right as you walk in, you will find a staircase that will take you up on to the terrace and allow you to look over Paris without trying to shoot around bars and through windows.

Eiffel Tower at twilight
Go to Montparnasse Tower just before sunset to see the sky change from daylight to twilight

Time your visit for sunset

My tip for visiting Montparnasse Tower? Go an hour before sunset. That way, you can enjoy the view in daylight, then watch as twilight settles over the city and the yellow glow of the streetlights appear, and then once the sky has darkened you can catch the ultimate view of the Eiffel Tower as it sparkles in the night.

The Eiffel Tower sparkles
Montparnasse Tower provides the ultimate view of the Eiffel Tower

Plan to spend at least an hour taking in the views here and to fully enjoy the experience!

Do you have a favourite view of Paris? Share it in the comments!

What you need to know:

  • Montparnasse Tower is located across the road from the Gare Montparnasse and can be reached by Metro at stop Montparnasse Bienvenüe
  • Further details can be found at the Montparnasse Tower website