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Paris

Montparnasse Tower, Paris

From a distance, Montparnasse Tower looks just like an ordinary office block. But the real gem lies at the top of the building, where you’ll find a large, open-air viewing platform.

The obvious choice for panoramic views of Paris is the Eiffel Tower. However, we were staying just a couple of minutes walk from Montparnasse Tower, and we spotted that there were some shops at the base of the tower. We popped in, just to see what was going on, and found a great little shopping centre. After having a quick look round, we stopped in a nearby cafe for a bite to eat and to plan the rest of our day. As we flicked through the guide book, we saw that Montparnasse Tower also has a viewing deck. Well, we do love a good panoramic view of a city, so we found our way round the back of the building to the entrance for the lifts.

We started off queuing outside, and I didn’t really fancy spending ages queueing. However, to my surprise, it moved quickly and we were inside before we knew it. Tickets bought, and we jumped in the lift.

Until 2011, this building was the tallest skyscraper in France, and in 2013 it was the 14th tallest building in the European Union. So you can imagine it’s got some height. In fact, the 59-storey high building is the only of its kind in Paris.If you take a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can instantly spot Montparnasse Tower, which despite its height, is still only two thirds of the height of the Eiffel Tower.

Once we’d made it to the top in the lift, we stepped out onto the 56th floor. This is the indoor part where you can find a cafe and gift shop. There’s also a fair amount of information available about the sights you can see from this floor. Once we’d had a look around the 56th floor, we made our way up the stairs to the rooftop terrace.

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L-R: Montparnasse Tower, Jardin des Tuileries, The Louvre and Montparnasse Cemetery

A larger space than I’d imagined, there’s plenty of space to soak up the views without getting in the way of other people, as you do at the Eiffel Tower. The roof area is well enclosed, and there are glass screens the whole way round so I felt very safe.

So which is better for panoramic views of Paris – Eiffel Tower or Montparnasse Tower?

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L-R clockwise: Les Invalides, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower

We actually went up both towers, and had different experiences from each. Montparnasse Tower was our daytime option, and we barely had to queue before jumping in the lift. If we’d had to queue (without pre-booked tickets) for the Eiffel Tower in the daytime it would have been at least a couple of hours wait. We also got to see the Eiffel Tower in all its Parisian glory during the day, whereas looking at Montparnasse Tower during the day isn’t anything to take photos of. Alternatively, heading up Montparnasse Tower in the evening would have also given us a great view of the Eiffel Tower sparkling, if we’d timed it right.

Budget-wise, there’s not much in it. For an adult to head up Montparnasse Tower, it’s a cool €14.50. Eiffel Tower? €15.00 all the way to the top. When you think of what you get for your money, the Eiffel Tower is a great choice because you can enjoy 3 varying heights, and there are restaurants and shops on the first and second floor. If you’re thinking of crowds, and where you can get a peaceful, uninterrupted view, then it’s likely that Montparnasse is a great choice. You could easily go up, soak up the views and continue your day after 1-2 hours. You’d spend that in the queue at the Eiffel Tower, and then probably 2-3 hours up the tower if you don’t stop for food.

So really, it depends what you want to see when you’re making the most of your panoramic experience. If the budget allows it, I’d definitely recommend doing one during the day and the other in the evening. I’m glad we did Montparnasse in the day as we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower, the kind of view you see in a film. And come evening, the queues were shorter up the Eiffel Tower, and if we’d timed it a bit better we’d have been in a perfect position on Champ de Mar to see the tower sparkle.

If you’re looking to head up just one of the towers, I would personally do the Eiffel Tower. It’s pretty much a must-do in Paris, and there are activities to do up the tower too.

Tips

  • You’ll have great views of Montparnasse Cemetery from the top of the tower, as well as the rest of the city
  • You can see more in the day, but the lights of the city at night are great too!
  • You only need one ticket to get access to the indoor level and roof terrace
  • There are steps to the roof terrace, but no lift.
  • The closest metro is Montparnasse – Bienvenue, but Edgar Quinet is close too. For overground, head to Gare Montparnasse.
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