Six Vistas That Will Make You Fall In Love With Paris

24 July 2017

It's seen as one of the 'must-do' Parisian experiences – but you don't have to spend ages queuing to go up the Eiffel Tower for amazing views of the 'City of Light'. There are myriad alternative vantage points that offer sweeping, highly Instagrammable panoramas (and many feature Eiffel's iconic landmark in the background).

Tour Montparnasse

Eiffel Tower, Paris The Eiffel Tower catches autumn’s last light of the day, as seen from Montparnasse. Image: Getty

Parisians were aghast when this monolithic 210 metre skyscraper – central Paris’ first modern high-rise building – shot up in the early 1970s. Yet despite being named the city’s ugliest building in various public polls, it boasts beautiful 360-degree views from its 56th floor bar and open-air terrace. Things are especially lovely around sunset, when great monuments, such as the Champs-Elysees, Notre-Dame cathedral and, of course, the Eiffel Tower, can be admired against a dreamy, pink-hued sky. Stick around, because after dusk, Eiffel's ‘metal asparagus’ is illuminated for five minutes every hour, on the hour.

Sacre-Coeur 

view of Paris rooftops The hum of Paris life can be felt as you take in the view from the Sacre-Coeur. Image: Getty

Characterised by its winding cobbled streets, quirky windmills and bohemian cafes, Montmartre is one of Paris’ most alluring village enclaves. And thanks to its lofty location in the city’s north, it’s a great place to cast your gaze over the French capital. While tourists love to take selfies with the Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre’s gleaming white hilltop basilica, in the backdrop, if you do an about-turn, there are also stirring vistas of the Parisian skyline from Sacre-Coeur’s front terrace and the grassy slopes that cascade down to Place Saint-Pierre and its classic merry-go-round.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Paris Opera house and skyline The neo-baroque Opera National de Paris adds romance to the Paris skyline. Image: Getty

You don’t have to be shopping for luxury goods to enjoy this, one of Paris’ most celebrated department stores. Gorgeous to look at – with its decorative Art Nouveau balconies and stained-glass cupola – it also has a 7th floor terrace that is ideal for whiling away a sunny afternoon. You can ‘picnic’ here on take-away goodies purchased at the cosmopolitan food points dotted around the Galeries, or splash out on, say, champagne and oysters at the chic terrace restaurant-bars. The views are fabulous, including a close-up of the opulent Palais Garnier, one of the world’s most esteemed opera houses.

Centre Pompidou

La Defense and financial district, Paris On clear days you can see La Defense and Paris’ financial hub from Centre Pompidou. Image: Getty

Toasting its 40th anniversary in 2017, this cultural mecca at the heart of Beaubourg district, named after former French president Georges Pompidou, is one of the capital’s most photographed icons thanks to its outlandish exterior, draped in brightly-coloured pipes. But it’s well worth delving inside, not just for its modern art galleries, exhibitions and performance spaces, but for the Parisian panoramas. They get better as you scale the snake-like, external escalator and peak when you reach the rooftop.

Parc de Belleville

Parc de Belleville, Paris Climb up to the terrace for another breathtaking view of Paris. Image: Getty

Hidden in the 20th arrondissement, off the radar of most tourists, Belleville is the birthplace of legendary singer Edith Piaf and has recently reemerged as one of Paris’ hippest ‘hoods. As well as a string of cool cafes, bars and galleries, it’s home to this chilled-out park, which is dotted with grassy lawns, flowers and grapes (they've been producing wine here for centuries). Capping the park is a terrace that’s speckled with eclectic mosaics and murals and boasts a wonderful perspective of Paris, with the Eiffel and Montparnasse towers among those distant landmarks to catch the eye. 

Promenade Plantee

Parc de Belleville, Paris Follow Promenade Plantee all the way to Bois de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement. Image: Getty

An inspiration for New York City’s fabled ‘High Line’, this partially-elevated pathway threads about 5 kilometres along a former railway line in Paris’ east. Fringed with fragrant trees and plants, and popular with joggers and amblers, it’s also known as Coulee verte (French for green course), and can be accessed at several points, including the stairways on avenue Daumesnil near Bastille. You’ll pass through – and over – a patchwork of neighbourhoods, absorbing diverse views of Paris and its residents (you can even peek through the windows of people’s apartments). Continue east and you'll end up at Bois de Vincennes, Paris’ biggest park, where you can go boating on a lake. 

Luxury Stays

Hotel Du Louvre

172 rue de Rivoli

An authentic 5-star hotel in Central Paris, Hotel du Louvre gives you an authentic Parisian experience with some suites offering a beautiful view over Parisian rooftops and monuments. Stay here and you’ll be surrounded by the Musee du Louvre, the Comedie-Francaise, the Palaise Garnier and Palais Royal Square.

Hotel Pont Royal

Saint Germain des Pres, 5-7 rue de Montalembert

Hotel Pont Royal is home to a long literary tradition, located in the midst of the stylish Saint-Germain de Pres area. Stay here and you’ll be right in the heart of literary and artistic Paris, with the opportunity to wander through small side streets, where all the best galleries are found.

L’Hotel Du Collectionneur

51-57 rue de Courcelles

Facing the chic Parc Monceau, a few minutes from the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and the prestigious boutiques and art galleries of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, L’Hotel du Collectionneur is a 5-star luxury spa hotel in a coveted location. 

Steve McKenna

A regular contributor to some of Australia's leading newspapers and travel magazines, Steve McKenna has visited, written about and photographed more than 80 countries on six different continents. He fears he has an incurable case of wanderlust and is particularly fond of Europe, Asia and South America.
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