If you’re looking for the best views in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is going to dominate every list and with good reason. It’s the tallest structure in Paris, giving you a birds-eye view for miles over the entire city in all directions. Not to mention the allure that comes with stepping inside one of the world’s most famous landmarks. That’s fine and well, but I’d argue that the best views of Paris include the Eiffel Tower, which you won’t get if you’re standing on top of it
So instead, I’ve gathered all of the best views in Paris except the Eiffel Tower. All of these spots promise stunning views of Paris, and most have the Eiffel Tower in the sightline. I’ve ranked my top five based on personal experience over the course of four trips to Paris. I also included a few additional spots which I haven’t been to yet. They’re on my list so they might as well be on yours too.
But of course, if you’d like to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower, too, we’ve got you covered on that as well.
1. Montparnasse Tower
Montparnasse Tower is the only skyscraper in Paris, and there’s a reason for that. The people of Paris hated Montparnasse Tower so much that just two years after it was built, the city banned all buildings taller than seven stories. (That limit has since been increased, but no taller buildings have been built.) To be fair, they weren’t wrong. It’s kind of an eyesore of a building. However, you can’t see the tower from inside the tower, so it’s really the perfect place to be for views of the rest of Paris.
Visiting the top of Montparnasse Tower is totally underrated if you ask me. The tower has an indoor observation floor and an open-air roof deck with a bar. Both offer 360 views of Paris, including a great perspective of the Eiffel Tower. It’s much less crowded than other viewpoints, too, which makes it a very relaxing and pleasant experience.
- What can you see: From this perch on the 56th floor of the tower, you can literally see over the entire city of Paris. Look for icons like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre and Arc de Triomphe, just to name a few. You’ll also spot the skyscrapers of La Défense, just outside the Paris city limits.
- Obstructions: From the indoor observation deck, you get a clear view through glass windows. From the observation deck, there are clear glass barriers, but there are gaps between them for photos.
- When to go: Arrive about an hour before sunset for views of Paris by day and by night.
- Ticket Price: €20 for adults (€19 if purchased online in advance), reduced pricing for visitors under 18
2. Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe is no a hidden gem, but it does pack an unexpected punch. The monument stands at 164 feet, which is about 15 stories. In many cities, a view from that height wouldn’t include anything more than the backsides of taller buildings. But with the low skylines in Paris, the views from this height are pretty spectacular.
The observation deck at Arc de Triomphe is also a total steal. At €13 (at most), a trip to the top costs about half as much as a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Combine that with the fact that it’s pretty easy to snag a last minute timed ticket and the overall crowds are light, it makes for a really pleasant experience. This also gives you the flexibility to plan this excursion on a sunny day, which makes it even more lovely.
- What can you see: The Arc de Triomphe sits in the middle of a traffic circle that connects 12 streets. From the top, you heave a view down each of them, including Champs-Élysées all the way to the Louvre and Avenue Kléber to the Eiffel Tower. You can also spot other landmarks like Montmartre, the golden dome of Les Invalides and Notre-Dame cathedral.
- Obstructions: The observation deck is lined with vertical metal safety rails. The gap between them allows for unobstructed photos.
- When to go: Right when they open for low crowds, followed by a day of shopping on Champs-Élysées.
- Ticket Price: €13 for adults, free for anyone under 18.
3. Trocadéro Gardens
For the best views of the Eiffel Tower specifially, head to Trocadéro Gardens. This grassy hill park is located just across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. For photos, head to Trocadéro Plaza at the top of the hill for beautiful framing, artful tiles and photogenic staircases.
If you’re picturing a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower or a romantic evening watching it twinkle, Trocadéro Gardens is where you want to be. Bring a blanket and cash to buy a bottle of champagne from the clandestine booze sellers, or pick up a crepe from the kiosks at the base of the park. There’s also a playground if you’re visiting Paris with kids.
- What can you see: This hill primarily offers views of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine.
- Obstructions: This open-air park has unobstructed views.
- When to go: Dusk — there’s nothing more magical than when the Eiffel Tower first lights up with sparkle lights each night.
- Ticket Price: Free
4. Square Louise Michel
The picturesque neighborhood of Montmartre is one of my favorite places to walk in Paris. In the heart of Montmartre, in front of the iconic Basilica of Sacré Coeur, is Square Louise Michel. Though called a square, it’s really a park set on a hill. The best views are at the top. To get there, you can either take the stairs that cut through the center of the park or you can ride the funicular train to the peak.
At the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking southern-facing view over Paris. The view is incredible, but you’ll notice it is missing one prominent icon: the Eiffel Tower. To see the Eiffel Tower, you can sneak a peak if you venture to nearby Square Nadar.
The stairs at Square Louise Michel are for more than climbing. Along with the grassy hill, the stairs are used as seats for the crowds of visitors who stay for the views. If you’re lucky, you might catch some street musicians or vendors selling cheap beer right from the case. The cops chase them away every so often, but they always come back. Alternatively, you can pick up food and drinks from official street vendors and restaurant take-away windows along the streets between the square and Place du Tertre.
- What can you see: Miles southern-facing city views and Parisian rooftops, with a few landmarks like Montparnasse Tower popping out in the skyline.
- Obstructions: This open-air park has unobstructed views. The lower you go on the hill, the more reduced your views will be.
- When to go: Midday on a weekend for the most energy, or sunset for a relaxing nightcap.
- Ticket Price: Free
5. Pont des Arts
There are a lot of beautiful bridges with great views in Paris, including Pont Alexandre III, Pont de l’Alma and Pont de Bir Hakeim. My favorite, though, is Pont des Arts. This pedestrian bridge crosses the Seine near Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité. Looking the other direction, you can see the Eiffel Tower peeping above the tree line.
Pont des Arts was made famous for its love locks in 2008. The rails of the bridge became so densely covered with padlocks marked with love notes that the structural integrity of the bridge was at risk. In 2015, the locks were removed. Today, the rails of the bridge are made of plexiglass, leaving very little room to attach new padlocks.
Even without the love locks, Pont des Arts bridge is still delightful, car-free oasis between the bustling city on either bank.
- What can you see: Street-level views of the banks of the Seine, including the top half of the Eiffel Tower, Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité.
- Obstructions: The bridge is open-air with no notable obstructions.
- When to go: Anytime, day or night. I think I prefer it in daylight though.
- Ticket Price: Free
Paris views on our Bucket List
These next spots we haven’t seen for ourselves just yet. We’ve heard from fellow travelers and travel writers that they’re great options for epic views of Paris. We figured if you’re making a list of the best views in Paris, we should also include the spots on our wish list.
- Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Terrace — The Haussmann location of this famous department store has an open air terrace on the 7th floor. The views peer over the classic French Haussmann-style buildings with icons like the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur peeping out above them. There are two restaurants, but you can also visit the terrace for free without dining. Here’s a great guide to this epic-looking rooftop.
- Pantheon — Similar in structure and purpose to its namesake in Rome, the Pantheon in Paris serves as crypt and religious monument. A visit the to the Pantheon is about much more than the view, but for a few Euros extra it is icing on the cake. Some may say it’s the best view of Paris.
- Seine River Cruise — Instead of going up for a view, try going down. On a Seine river cruise, you get a great view of the bank-side monuments and buildings, plus a unique perspective on the many famous bridges you pass under. There’s a ton of cruise options to choose from, including a hop-on-hop-off style which is the one I most want to try. I wrote it off on my first visit because I thought it sounded too touristy, but now I keep finding myself pulled to check it out for myself.
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