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How impressive is the view from the Eiffel Tower (or other landmarks)?

There are so many towers, steeples, and landmarks to climb for views of Paris. Are any absolute musts? I typically prefer strolling the streets of a city, visiting the churches, museums, and gardens, and enjoying a leisurely meal or dessert. However, when I mentioned to a friend that I planned to skip the Eiffel Tower view, she was aghast! “How can you go to Paris, and not ascend the tower?” So of course I’m second guessing that decision. We plan to go to Sacre Coeur and look back at the city, but I just felt climbing towers would not be worth the expense, but more importantly the time, even if we could purchase a ticket in advance. What do you think?

Posted by
2927 posts

I didn't go up the Eiffel Tower until my third visit to Paris. We still laugh about the entire experience...it's a human watching story...and neither of us thinks it was important to climb. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend it as the view is nothing much. I think the real view is looking at the Eiffel Tower as one walks around the city from different angles, and at different times of the day. Trocadero across the river has a nice view of it. However, the Champs du Mars where it sits is an interesting park, and provides interesting angles of the structure. I think the best view in Paris is from Sacre Coeur. So the bottom line is to follow your own gut, as we all have different interests and motivations.

Posted by
1277 posts

Consider Eiffel at night for the twinking lights, and sacre Coeur during the day, truly breathtaking. Used to be you could go to the top of Notre dame and pose next to a gargoyle. Hope that's still true

Posted by
13665 posts

“How can you go to Paris, and not ascend the tower?”

You're looking at her. :O)

We skipped going up in the tower as we preferred it from the ground (at night from the Trocadero is very nice!) and there were other spots in Paris for lofty views. There are the Towers at Notre Dame (bonus: up-close looks at the chimeras), Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré-Cœur, and Tour Montparnasse, to name a few. We did the first 3 of these 4 and didn't feel like we'd missed a thing. The Towers and Arc de Triomphe were also covered under our Paris Museum Pass so it didn't cost us any extra, either.

Posted by
8394 posts

It's totally subjective. I love going up the Eiffel Tower, always have, from the time I was a kid until now. The view is amazing during the day imo. But I would never tell anyone it's a must.

Posted by
184 posts

I second the suggestion for the Montparnasse Tower. It is cheaper, lines are shorter, and the view includes the Eiffel Tower. I did both and while the experience of going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was nice, I preferred the views from Montparnasse Tower. Either way, enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6509 posts

There are lots of places with good views of Paris and two of my favorites are free if you have a Paris Museum Pass. One is the top of the Arc de Triomphe, I loved the view of the streets radiating out from the Arc, including the Champs Elysees. It was especially fun to be up there at dusk when all the street lights and the car headlights come on. It's also one of the best places to see the Eiffel Tower when it sparkles after dark. The other view I loved was from the top of the Notre Dame tower, the classic photo of a close-up gargoyle and the city spread out below. Disclaimer: it's free with the museum pass but you still need to wait in line, no skipping with the pass.

I think the Eiffel tower is a classic Paris 'must do' on many people's list, but it's not necessary unless you really have the desire. I have gone up the ET twice - once to the 2nd level, which I think is actually the better view, and once to the top. Going to the top was mostly because I wanted to say that I did it. Do it only if you really want to do it, nobody is going to think less of you if you don't.

Posted by
1878 posts

The problem with the vie from the Eiffel Tower is, as someone said quite correctly, it does not include the Eiffel Tower. I think it's fine to do it or not do it. My wife and I did it once, on our second of four trips to Paris together. It sounds like it's a lot more of a hassle now, but if you plan a head sure go for it. Don't wait three hours for it though, or anything like that. The view from the the Trocadero looking back at the tower is great. Also the view from the Arc d'Triomphe.

Posted by
784 posts

Find a spot with a good view of the Eiffel Tower like Trocadero or Champs de Mars. The tower is very impressive close up, but don't feel you have to go up it if you don't want to. There are huge crowds, tons of street vendors, long lines and scammers to contend with.

The view from Sacre Coeur is good, but Central Paris is pretty far in the distance and it is often hazy. I like the view from the Montparnasse Tower - you get a view of the Eiffel Tower, there are rarely long lines and it costs about 14€. If you are in the neighborhood, it is worth the stop - only you can decide it it is worth making it a destination.

There are also good views from the Arc de Triomphe, and the roof of Galleries Lafayette (it is free). But the weather isn't good, your time would probably be better spent doing something else.

Posted by
11292 posts

My two favorite views of the city are from the top of the Arc de Triomphe (free with Museum Pass) and from the Trocadero (free to all, great view of the Eiffel Tower). I didn't like the scene at Sacre Coeur at night (too many young people drinking); I haven't been by day in many years.

I went up the Eiffel Tower on my first visit to Paris in 1988; I enjoyed it enough, but haven't felt any desire to repeat the experience. However, I went up the Arc de Triomphe twice in one trip, once by day and once by night, and would definitely do so again.

So, if going up the Eiffel Tower doesn't call to you, do something else. If your friend is aghast, she can go up on her next trip.

Posted by
2923 posts

I have been going to France since the summer of 1982 and the first time that I ascended the Eiffel Tower was in April 2016 and I only did it because it was available. My husband always says that the point of a Parisian view is seeing the Eiffel Tower and you can't see it from inside. I happen to love the view of Paris from the terrace of the the Terrass Hotel on Rue Joseph Maistre in Montmartre and the one from Galeries Lafayette. Hubby loves the view from Tour Montparnasse but that could be because of the elevators.

I still have yet to get to the Catacombs which some people have as one of the top thing on their list but meanwhile I go to Musee Quai Branly and make a trip to Giverny every chance I get. The point is that your trip to Paris is about you and not what people think you should see. You can't see everything on a single trip so just relax and enjoy the trip you want. Your question reminds me of the time I was shopping and I accidentally tried on a blouse backwards and I loved it that way. The sales woman mentioned that it was backwards and I said that I liked it that way and wondered aloud if I could wear it that way. Her response, which I remember to this day and this happened in the early 1990s, was "Baby, you pay for it and you can wear it any way you like as long as it's legal." To paraphrase that wise sales woman, you pay for your trip to Paris and you can do it any way you like.

Posted by
94 posts

We just got back from Paris. I didn't want to go up the tower, but our friends we were traveling with insisted. We went up at 8:30 and stayed for a breathtaking sunset. After that we walked to Trocador for some ice cream and a great view of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. We stayed another hour there and saw it sparkle at the top of the hour. It turned out to be one of my favorite experiences. For me there was something magical about it. I am so glad my friends insisted!

Posted by
2466 posts

The best thing is wandering around Paris and coming across a monument when you least expect it.
There are views of Sacre Coeur from boulevard Haussmann, views of the Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse station that I've never noticed before- and I've been here 10 years...
You don't have to experience anyone else's " must do's ". Make your own magic.

Posted by
223 posts

To answer the question in your title: not very, in my opinion.

I went up to the upper level of the Eiffel Tower once several years ago and found it to be worth neither the time nor effort. It's interesting to see how different people react to the same experience. I read so many comments on this forum with people stressing over how to get tickets to go up the tower, when there are much more interesting things to do in Paris; many of which cost nothing.

As for views, I much prefer the views from Trocadero, top of the Arc de Triomphe, and even the terrace of Galeries Lafayette. I need to try Montparnasse tower sometime when I'm in town.

I second chexbres' advice: The best thing is wandering around Paris and coming across a monument (or other memorable sight) when you least expect it.

Posted by
3699 posts

Old joke about the Montparnasse tower, the city's highest point: The best thing about the view, once you're up there, is that you can't see the Montparnasse tower.

Posted by
8293 posts

Of course you can "go to Paris and not ascend the tower". You can do and see whatever you jolly well please. Your friend thinks you should see Paris from the Tour Eiffel. Since she is not accompanying you, she does not get to be "aghast" at whatever your plans are. I think your own preference to stroll, to visit museums, to stop at cafes, is what will leave you with lasting and loving memories of my favourite city.

Posted by
3651 posts

Been to Paris a number of times and still haven't ascended the Eiffel Tower. Our favorite view is the one from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The view of the Champs Elysees and the other streets radiating out from there is just great. And it include a very good view of the Eiffel Tower. Haven't been atop the Arc de Triomphe in the evening when the Eiffel Tower sparkles, but it must be spectacular.

Posted by
3334 posts

As an acrophobe, I have to say that I'd much rather look AT the tower than look FROM it. I did it once at DHs insistence. That was enough. But I very much enjoyed the views from the Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur. So I'd say you should enjoy Paris the way you want, not the way your friend does.

Posted by
51 posts

This has been a fun read. I know it is totally my preference. I was only concerned that perhaps it was short-sighted to skip. I have been encouraged to experience things after which I saw no value, as well as opportunities I was thankful for the extra push. Thanks to all for sharing their favorites. Will hope to do the same on our return!

Posted by
37 posts

Best free view of Paris & Eiffel is from top floor of Lafayette dept. store

Posted by
1172 posts

We are in Paris right now. We went up the Eiffel Tower because we wanted to. We are skipping the Louvres because we are not museum people. Many would be in shock. I really don't care. When they come to Paris, they can go to the Louvres. My point being that this is your trip, do what you want!

Posted by
183 posts

Our first time in Paris we took the subway and got off the trocadero exit , walked up the stairs to the outside expecting to see the Eiffel Tower and all we saw was a wall , walked 50 feet turned left and what a view looking down at the tower from other side of the river

Posted by
8293 posts

Dave, we had the same experience, seeing the Tour Eiffel at night from Trocadero. A full moon was above the tower and it was a stunning sight. Three young guys were standing near us, American I think, and even they were overcome. Then one of them, obviously at a loss for words but not wanting to show he was impressed, said "It's a nice little town, isn't it?"

Posted by
11973 posts

The four views I've been to are Sacre Couer, Arc de Triomphe, the top of Printemps department store and the Notre Dame towers. Of the four, my favorite was the Notre Dame Towers. I haven't been to the top of the Eiffel tower or Montparnesse. Two of the four are free, so you don't have to rule them out.

Posted by
181 posts

I'm with those who recommend Montparnasse! It may easily be one of the most architechturally unappealing buildings anywhere.....but the view is just that much more spectacular because you don't have to look at it unlike from the Eiffel Tower or Sacre Coure. On the other hand, trying to convince my fiance that we dont need to go up the Eiffel Tower on our upcoming honeymoom is going over like a lead balloon.......so up it we will go!

Posted by
1002 posts

Towers at Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré-Cœur, and Tour Montparnasse

I have done the last three and agree that Arc de Triomphe was our favorite, too. From Sacré-Cœur, we had a beautiful view of the city but it felt far away. Montparnasse is a great alternative (discount on admission with your RS tour book).

Been twice in recent years and haven't gone up Eiffel. We had tickets last summer but there was a lot of striking going on and sure enough, we got all the way over there and couldn't go up because of a strike that day. The whole scene in that area was pretty sketchy (it was during the Euro Cup) so we were happy to move on.

Posted by
2002 posts

The Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel, so to me it is worth going up at least once to experience being in this structure, which is
unique in the world, and worth the hassle to do. The view is very good also (I have only been to the 2nd level). I'm sure there are other good or better views. The Montparnasse tower has great panoramic views all over Paris, but the building is awful, and the view area at the top is uninviting. There is virtually no place to sit, have a drink and enjoy the view. It has a worthless snack bar and gift shop. I was there a couple of months ago, and the decor had not changed since I was there in 2012. It is truly a soul-less space, that you will have to ignore. (unlike the Eiffel Tower) Also, the entrance to the view area can be difficult to find. (the staff running security and the elevators were friendly though).

I guess it all depends on what is important to you.