Where can you see the best Paris skyline views with iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame silhouetted against city rooftops and the sky?
In this article, we share 17 of our favorite locations along with a map.
Some, such as the viewing platforms on the Eiffel Tower itself and the rooftop terrace at the Arc de Triomphe, will not surprise you. (Although we do offer tips to help you enhance your experience.)
But others fall squarely into the "insider secret" category despite their fantastic cityscape and skyline views.
And don't forget skyline views of Paris from your hotel room. Book the right property (we include recommendations), and you can enjoy spectacular views from your window.
Top photo: Skyline view of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe's rooftop terrace
17 Best Places to View the Paris Skyline & Its Iconic Landmarks
1. Arc de Triomphe Rooftop Terrace: Panoramic Paris Skyline Views of the Eiffel Tower & More
When Napoleon Bonaparte built the Arc de Triomphe to celebrate his victories during the French Revolution and his Napoleonic Wars, he envisioned triumphal marches passing under it.
But today, visitors congregate on top of the Arc, where a large rooftop terrace offers sweeping 360-degree panoramic views of Paris and its surrounding suburbs and countryside.
The Arc's height of 164 feet (50 m) puts you at the perfect level to enjoy sweeping views of the city's famous monuments against the Paris skyline. You're also close enough to the ground to spot architectural details such as chimney pots.
What can you see from the rooftop observation deck?
Basically, all of the city's top attractions: the Eiffel Tower (check out the view from the Arc's rooftop at the beginning of this article), Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House), Père Lachaise Cemetery, Louvre Palace and Tuileries Garden, Notre Dame, and the ornate domes of the Pantheon, Invalides, and Saint Augustin Church.
Look down, and you'll see the 12 grand tree-lined avenues that converge at Arc de Triomphe.
The most famous, Avenue des Champs Élysées, stretches all the way to Place de la Concorde and is part of the Axe Historique, the line of historical monuments starting at the east with the statue of Louis XIV on horseback by the Louvre's glass pyramid.
The Historical Axis passes through the Arc and continues along the Avenue de la Grande Armée before ending at the Grande Arche in La Defense, the glittering business district to the west of Paris.
Not surprisingly, the Grande Arche has its own rooftop where you can also see spectacular skyline views of Paris - more about that in a moment!
Arc de Triomphe Visitor Tips
Best time to visit: Arrive about half an hour before sunset to experience dazzling colors as the sun dips below the horizon
Arc de Triomphe location: Place de Étoile / Charles de Gaulle, where the 8th, 16th, and 17th arrondissements intersect
Metro: Étoile/Charles de Gaulle station
Skip-the-line rooftop tickets: Get them in advance
2. Eiffel Tower: Paris Panoramic Views at 3 Levels
As the highest structure in France and the quintessential place to see panoramic views of the Paris, the Eiffel Tower offers three viewing platforms.
The first platform is 190 feet (60 m) above ground level - only slightly higher than the Arc de Triomphe's rooftop terrace. Do you primarily want to see famous Paris monuments and buildings silhouetted against the skyline?
If so, the Level 1 platform is actually the best, but it has one drawback compared with the Arc: the fantastic views obviously don't include the Eiffel Tower itself. However, the Level 1's glass floor gives you a unique experience when you look down!
The second platform is almost twice as high from the ground: 376 feet (115 m). This is where you'll see the entire city laid out around you in panoramic cityscape and skyline views.
Want to see more details? Telescopes placed around the Level 2 platform let you zoom in on specific monuments or buildings. You'll easily spot Invalides, the Louvre and Tuileries Garden, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, Trocadero, the Grand Palais, and even the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Look down, and you can see how the Seine River bisects the city, with the Right Bank to the north and the Left Bank on the south.
Once you step off the elevator to the Third ("Summit") Level, you are much higher up - almost 900 feet (274 m), an exhilarating experience.
By peering down, you'll be able to identify the closest areas, such as Trocadero and the Champ de Mars.
Further in the distance, Paris's two enormous parks, Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, stand out as large green areas. Along the skyline, you can also easily recognize Sacre Coeur and Montmartre as well as the skyscrapers at La Defense.
However, the real thrill of being at the Summit comes from the long-distance views far beyond the city and even France. On a clear day, you may even be able to see Belgium.
Eiffel Tower Visitor Information
Best time to visit: Daytime hours are best if you want to see the most detail
Tour Eiffel location: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 7th arrondissement
Metro: Bir Hakeim, Trocadero, Pont de l'Alma
Guided tour with optional access to Summit: Get your ticket now
More Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Experiences
3. Montparnasse Tower: Best Night Views of the Paris Skyline
Montparnasse Tower holds the distinction of being Paris's only skyscraper, and there's a reason for that. After the Tower's completion in 1973, Parisians' outrage about its height and unattractive appearance caused the city to ban future construction of buildings over seven stories.
As a result, Montparnasse Tower offers sweeping panoramic views of the city from its top levels, unobstructed by any other nearby tall buildings. This is where you'll get the best views of the Paris skyline at night.
With your admission ticket to the Montparnasse Tower Observatory, you get access to two locations:
- A covered observation deck which wraps around all sides of the 56th floor and is open year-round, regardless of the weather
- A spacious open-air rooftop terrace on the 59th
At about 690 feet (210 m) above the ground, the rooftop terrace puts you at the perfect height to look out directly at the Eiffel Tower. Despite being three floors lower, the view from the observation deck is virtually the same.
For an unforgettable experience, arrive after dark to see the Eiffel Tower's sparkling light show as city lights twinkle below.
Montparnasse Tower Visitor Tips
Location: 33 Avenue du Maine, 15th arrondissement. Visitor entrance is on Rue de l'Arrivée
Accessibility: Entrance on Rue de Départ; please note that only the 56th floor observation deck is accessible; to reach the 59th, you must climb 3 flights of stairs
Skip-the-line Observatory ticket (includes both floors): Get your ticket now
Or get admission with your Paris Pass
4. Notre Dame: Paris Rooftops
The upper gallery around Notre Dame's towers offers lovely Paris skyline views, made even more special by the gorgoyles and chimeras perched along the edges. You get detailed close-up looks at rooftops as well as the Seine River and its bridges, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, and other iconic sites.
Sadly, Notre Dame is currently closed for repairs and restoration after the devastating fire in April, 2019 but at least a small portion may be open to the public by as early as 2024.
There's no news, of course, at this time about the reopening of the Towers to visitors - but stay hopeful and stay tuned!
5. Arab World Institute, Paris: Skyline View of Notre Dame
Where can you experience the best views of the Paris skyline featuring Notre Dame Cathedral?
Here's an insider's secret: head straight to the 9th-floor rooftop terrace next to Le Zyriab, a Lebanese restaurant at the Institut de Monde Arab (Arab World Institute) in the Latin Quarter.
Although the restaurant serves lunch and dinner in a lovely indoor space featuring floor-to-ceiling glass walls, you'll get even better skyline views at a table on the adjacent al fresco terrace.
Arrive in time for the afternoon tea service (3-6pm, Tues - Sat), and order hot mint tea and the delicious Lebanese pastries. Linger long enough, and you may see the first hints of sunset streak the sky behind Notre Dame.
In addition to the famous cathedral on Île de la Cité, the terrace also overlooks a large swath of the Right Bank, Ile Saint-Louis, the Seine River, and the Pont de la Tournelle bridge with its monumental statue of Saint-Geneniève, patron saint of Paris.
Arab World Institute Visitor Tips
More to See: The Institute's excellent collections highlighting Arab culture, and outstanding temporary exhibitions focusing on historical heritage and contemporary Arab life
Location: 1 rue des Fossés St–Bernard, 5th arrondissement
Metro: Jussieu, Cardinal Lemoine
Admission: Free access to the terrace when you're dining at Le Zyriab (reservations suggested for dinner); free entry to the Institute's permanent collections with a Paris Museum Pass or Paris City Pass; most temporary exhibitions require a separate ticket which you can get at the door.
6. Sacre Coeur: Paris Cityscape View
Perched high on top of the highest hill in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood, Sacre Coeur Basilica is both a prominent landmark along the Paris skyline and a popular spot for panoramic views of the city below.
Most visitors use the broad terraces at the foot of the steps in front of Sacre Coeur as their viewing platform. But if you walk up the steps to the doors of the church, you'll get an even more expansive perspective.
If you know where to look, you can see all of the city's major landmarks amid the sea of rooftops: Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Pantheon, Notre Dame, the ornate golden domes of Invalides and the Institut de France, Louvre Palace, and even the former railway station housing Musée d'Orsay. You can even spot the gold-tipped Egyptian obelisk in Place de la Concorde and the summer-only Ferris wheel in Tuileries Garden.
To get an even higher view, pay a few euros and climb another 300 steps up a rather narrow spiral staircase to reach the huge Dome of Sacre Coeur. (Your ticket also lets you visit the crypt.)
The Dome is spectacular and the crypt fascinating, but honestly? You'll find the best Paris skyline views from the Basilica's front steps.
Sacre Coeur Visitor Tips
Location: 18th arrondissement
How to get up the hill to Sacre Coeur: Walk up the steps, or take the Funicular (an automated cable car) up the hill; cost is the same as a metro ticket, or just use a ticket you already have for the ride
Admission: Free, unless you want to climb up to the dome; if so, buy your ticket (currently about 5€ at the door on the Basilica's left side
7. Tuileries Ferris Wheel: Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, & More
Every summer in late June or early July, La Fête Foraine des Tuileries - a type of carnival known as a "fun fair" in France - pops up in Paris's Tuileries Garden near the Louvre for two months of non-stop entertainment.
Amid the bumper cars, arcade games, and cotton candy, the biggest attraction is the enormous Ferris wheel ("Grande Roue").
Hop on for a ride, and as the wheel slowly turns, you rise high above the ground for spectacular skyline views of Sacre Coeur and surrounding Montmartre, and in the other direction, the Eiffel Tower.
Too soon, you're down on the ground again - but your memories of the views will linger on.
If you miss the summer event, no worries! The Ferris wheel and carnival reappear as part of the Magie de Noël Christmas Market from mid-December through early January.
Ferris Wheel Tips & Information
Best times to go: Daytime for the most detailed views, right before or right after sunset for spectacular color in the sky, and at night to see the city sparkle and catch the light show at the Eiffel Tower
Location: Tuileries Garden near Rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement
Hours: 11am - midnight (although hours may vary by day of the week)
Dates & more information: Find summer dates for June/July and August; find Christmas market dates and details
8. Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Terrace: View Palais Garnier, the Eiffel Tower, & the Skyline of Paris
Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps, two of Paris's grand department stores, sit almost side-by-side on Boulevard Haussmann. Both emporiums boast seasonal rooftop terraces on their top floor. Since they are only slightly higher than the surrounding rooftops, they give you a human-scale perspective of the city skyline.
You'll get a detailed up-close look at the elaborate ornamentation, carvings, and sculpture embellishing the opulent Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House). Phantom of the Opera fans will not want to miss this!
The Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame feel a bit more distant - but the skyline views of these iconic attractions are still magnificent.
Which rooftop terrace should you choose? Although the overall views feel similar, Galeries Lafayette has the edge because it directly overlooks Garnier Palace.
Both department store rooftops also have seasonal pop-up cafes in case you'd like to enjoy the view with a glass of wine or a meal.
Both terraces are usually open 10am-8pm, and may be closed during winter months and/or inclement weather.
Locations: Galeries Lafayette Terrace (8th floor, 40 Boulevard Haussmann)
and Printemps Terrace (9th floor, 64 Boulevard Haussmann), 9th arrondissement
Metro: Chaussée d'Antin La Fayette
9. Centre Pompidou Rooftop Terrace Cityscape Views
Lots of visitors to Centre Pompidou, home to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, come to admire the museum's superb art shows but have no clue about the rooftop terrace or its wonderful skyline vistas. Don't let that be you!
Once you go up to the building's top level, you have two choices: the free terrace where you can simply admire the cityscape stretching out before you, or the Le Georges terrace bar where you can sip a cocktail, order lunch or dinner (reservations usually required), or chill as live DJs rev up the vibe into the late evening.
You'll see the Eiffel Tower, the top of Notre Dame, and other iconic monuments, but the biggest thrill here are the close-up views of chimney pots, rooftops, building art, and plant-filled balconies.
Getting to Centre Pompidou
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 4th arrondissement
10. Musée Cité de l'Architecture: A Little-Known Gem
In a city packed with world-class museums such as Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre, and Pompidou Center, Musée Cité de l'Architecture often gets overlooked by Paris visitors despite its location at Trocadéro across from the Eiffel Tower.
That is a shame. This little-known museum's casts of architectural treasures from the 12th century through modern periods, murals, and stained glass make it well worth exploring.
But here's the secret bonus you'll find here: stunning Paris skyline views of the Eiffel Tower and other famous monuments. For the best views, go up to the third floor where the museum's elevation places you above the tree line and lets you looks slightly down and across the city's rooftops.
Pro Photographer Tips: If you want to photograph, for example, the Paris skyline with the Eiffel Tower, you're going to have to take your photo through glass because the museum does not have a rooftop terrace. To eliminate glare, place the lens of your camera or iPhone directly against the window. The 3rd floor has a series of windows, so try the view from each one to find the perfect angle for your photograph.
Getting to Musée Cité de l'Architecture
Address: 1 Place du Trocadero, 16th arrondissement
11. Grande Arche Rooftop Terrace
Just as you can spot the Grande Arche tucked among La Défense skyscrapers from the Arc de Triomphe, you can see the Arc de Triomphe on the Paris skyline from the roof terrace at the top of the Grande Arche.
At a height of 360 feet (110 m) above the ground, the Grande Arch is more than twice as high as the Arc de Triomphe, even though surrounding buildings tower over it. To give you a sense of the Arche's height (and the nearby skyscrapers), Notre Dame Cathedral along with its two towers and former spire could fit under it with room to spare.
During the day, you can clearly see the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Historical Axis formed by La Defense's Esplanade and Paris's Avenue de l'Armée.
Although you can see the Paris skyline in daytime, the glittering modern glass and steel buildings of La Defense overshadow it.
Wondering why La Defense has so many skyscrapers? After Paris banned construction of buildings with more than 7 stories after Montparnasse Tower outraged Parisians, development of a high-rise business district move to La Defense, located just over a mile (about 2 km) from the city limits.
At night, the lights of Paris skyline along with the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are clearly visible from the top of the Arche, despite being slightly upstaged by the glittering skyscrapers.
Thanks to the speedy Metro, you can get to the Arche from Place de la Concorde in about 10-15 minutes. It's a trip well worth making to see this dazzling view of Paris at night.
Getting to the Grande Arche Rooftop Terrace
Address: 1 Parvis de la Défense
Metro: Défense (Line 1 from Paris)
12. Parc de Belleville
With an altitude of about 354 feet (108 m) above sea level, Parc de Belleville is Paris's highest park. You'll find lots to enjoy here: award-winning gardens, expansive grassy lawns, numerous trees and flowering shrubs, a children's playground, and the Fontaine de Belleville, longest cascading waterfall-type fountain in the city.
Follow the winding paths up the park's hill until you reach the top, where a large terrace with a pavilion known as the Belvédère gives you panoramic views of the city. On a clear day, you can easily spot the tallest monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse Tower, as well as others such as the Pantheon, the Arc de Triomphe, the towers of Notre Dame, and the golden dome of Invalides.
Usually the best time to view the skyline and cityscape is in the morning when the sun comes from behind you and lights up Paris as you look across the city. However, the best time to enjoy the park is in the afternoon when its west-facing hills reflect the sun.
Don't miss: The artwork of top graffiti artists on the pavilion.
Address: 47 Rue de Couronnes, 20th arrondissement
Metros: Pyrénées, Couronnes
13. Paris Skyline from Trocadero
The expansive white and black marble terrace at Trocadéro, a sprawling complex known for its museums, beautiful gardens, and majestic fountains, rightly deserves its fame as one of the best locations to see the Eiffel Tower closeup with the Paris skyline in the background.
Because of the marble's reflective quality, it and the people walking across it become part of the landscape. Colors change based on whether the sky is clear or cloudy and on the time that you're there.
Pro Photographer's Tip: For the most spectacular views, arrive shortly after sunrise or right before sunset.
14. Ballon de Paris - Skyline Views from a Hot Air Balloon
Hot air balloons first became popular as a way to see the city after Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette watched one float across the sky over Versailles in 1783. Although this first experimental flight carried only a sheep, a duck, and a rooster (yes, really!), humans soon followed in the Bois de Boulogne later that year.
Today, you can enjoy that same experience on the Ballon de Paris Generali, a tethered hot-air balloon filled with helium located in the beautiful Parc André-Citroën in Paris's 15th district. (Generali, in case you're wondering, is an Italian insurance company and the balloon's biggest sponsor.)
The hot-air balloon, which happens to be the largest in the world, can carry up to 30 passengers. When weather conditions are just right, it reaches an altitude of 980 feet (300 m) - almost as high as the Eiffel Tower!
You'll get 360-degree panoramic views of Paris and its famous monuments, buildings, and skyline as you go up and down. It's truly a fantastic experience!
How to book: First, check the Ballon de Paris website to see if the balloon is flying on the day you want to ride. To save time, you can buy your ticket online on the website. Once you reach the park, you'll stand in line to get a spot. Here's the tricky part: weather conditions can change at any time, so if this happens while you're in line, you may have to come back on another day and try again.
Metro: Javel or Ballard/RER C
15. Paris Skyline Views from Seine River Bridges & the River Banks
Not only are the Seine River banks and bridges a quintessential part of the Paris skyline, but they also provide the perfect locations to see and photograph it.
Simply position yourself toward the middle of any bridge in Paris, and you'll see stunning vistas featuring other bridges, the Seine River, fantastic architecture, and (usually) famous monuments, buildings, and other attractions.
As a bonus, you'll probably see cruise boats carrying tourists, Parisians sitting along the river banks, and the interplay of colors and light between the sky and water.
Don't miss the "golden hour," that period right after sunrise or shortly before sunset when the sky begins to show soft hues and the rising or setting sun turns the city's limestone buildings to mellow shades of gold.
16. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Located on top of old limestone and gypsum quarries, the Buttes-Chaumont Park in eastern Paris offers expansive skyline views from its hills. Squint hard enough, and you can spot the Eiffel Tower, although the closer views of Montmartre rooftops are even better.
Once you reach the grassy slopes dotted with relaxed Parisians soaking up the views, you may lose sight of all the other reasons to come here: waterfalls, a suspension bridge, the artificial lake, caves and caverns, and its most prominent feature, the Italian-inspired Temple de la Sibelle perched on the top of a cliff.
There's even a Rosa Bonheur guinguette where you can order beer and sausages, and later in the evening, join in the dancing.
But don't miss any of these sights and experiences! The skyline views, while spectacular, are just one part of why you may want to visit Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
17. Hotels with Skyline Views
Want to wake up to Paris skyline views and see lights sparkling across the city as you go to bed? This can be your experience when you choose the right room in the right hotel.
Pro traveler tip: book your room, and then call the hotel to confirm your view.
Here are a few hotels to consider:
Hotel Terrass" - Perched on a peak in hilly Montmartre, most guestrooms at 4-star Hotel Terrass" offer wonderful Paris skyline views, including many featuring the Eiffel Tower
Pullman Eiffel Tower Hotel - For closeup Eiffel Tower and Paris skyline views from many rooms, this popular 4-star hotel near the edge of Champ de Mars can't be beat
The Peninsula Paris - If your budget can swing the hefty rates at this luxurious 5-star "Princess" hotel, book a guest room with unforgettable Paris cityscape views featuring the Eiffel Tower