Catching up on my Alternative Paris series, I wanted to share with you one of the best ways to get spectacular views over Paris without wasting a day in queues or spending a fortune going up the Eiffel Tower. And besides, don’t you want to include the Eiffel Tower in your pictures?
If you’ve ever been to Paris, you will know the long lingering queues beside the Eiffel Tower. And maybe the price tag that accompanies the experience. When we’re away we like to use our time to the best we can and that means not standing waiting. So on our recent trip, we hunted out an alternative way to get the views over the city.
The lesser spotted skyscraper
You wouldn’t be misled in thinking that the Montparnasse Tower looks just like any old skyscraper office block in a big city and in fact, you would be right. Montparnasse Tower is a large office block and even I think that it isn’t much to look at either. However, why does the building need to look good when you’re going to be looking out from it. Ah ha! There’s the key to this place. It is tall and looks over the city and being on it means that it doesn’t become a feature in those all important holiday/Instagram shots.
The other benefit of going to Montparnasse Tower is that it fills in any urban wandering hankering that you might be having as it takes you to the other side of the city away from the hustle and bustle of tourist groups and souvenir sales people.
As you can see in the picture, it’s a pretty ordinary place. As I always say, the most magical things are usually found in the most ordinary of places)
You will find that it is a bit confusing trying to find the entrance. It is mainly set up for the thousands of workers, so you do kind of get pushed out to the side. Not that it matters one bit. You look up and become absolutely dwarfed by the 210 metre structure above you.
Getting to the 56th Floor
Of course, as with most things on holiday it is not free to go up the tower. However, it is a very reasonable price and if you have a student card, you get a good discount too. We had our NUS cards on us which also gave us international student discount, so that is a bonus if you have one of those (I’ll be sharing money-saving tips in another post)
The staff are lovely and welcoming and once you are in the building, navigating your way around is simple. You zip up in the lift and exit into the first viewing area. The bit with the gift shops and bar, of course. Once you have wandered around taking pictures through the windows, you remember the viewing platform at the top so make your way up there.
Once you reach the top, you really do realise how good of a view you are getting for a cheap price! The viewing platform has 360 views across the entire city of Paris meaning that you can grab a photo which includes the monuments and tourist destinations rather than from them. Plus, they have areas without glass or mesh so you can get clear pictures too. (something that I have only recently realised is a not everywhere!)
If you’re anything like me, you’ll also be spotting some other places to visit while you’re looking down. The Montparnasse cemetery is one of the oldest in Paris.
Space to move
If you have been in the city or around the tourist areas for some time, you will know how crowded it can get. That is another benefit of Montparnasse Tower as it is not as touristy. This means that you have room to browse the views, take a selfie without being photobombed (unless it is doing it to each other) and really enjoy some space. They even encourage you to chill out up there by providing bean bags and seats.
Because of the space, you can take your time choosing your shots and spotting the places that you recognise in the patchwork of buildings and streets below you.
At the time of our visit there wasn’t any time limit as to how long you can spend up there. However, there were increased prices for viewing the sunset. I would imagine if you stayed that long, they would be shooing you away for the ones that had paid. And even from ground level you can get some stunning sunset shots anyway.
Beer with a view
After collecting a plethora of pictures over the city, taking obligatory selfies, photobombing each other and enjoying the strong gusts of wind. You need to talk some time out. So the bar is well worth a visit as it is not as expensive as you would imagine and drinks come with a little snack pot. If you’re there at a quiet time too, mid afternoon seems good, you can also snag a window seat.
Coming to the end of our drinks, it began to pick up a little bit we decided to make our way out. Another swift trip in the blue lit lift and we were back into the streets of Paris. The 56 floors above us and the workers scurrying around us. It really was amazing the vast difference, both in pace and number of people, at the Montarpasse Tower.
For an enjoyable wander through a different part of Paris, unobstructed views over the city and its highlights, then Montarpasse Tower should definitely e on your list for your Alternative Paris trip.
Ah, those views!
Here’s to making your trip and alternative Paris trip.
Are you planning an alternative Paris holiday? What kinds of things do you do differently on your trips?
Let me know in the comments below.
And for more Alternative Paris, check out my other (growing) number of posts here.