Since Paris is one of the globe's most photogenic cities, it's not surprising that the dusky hours here are strikingly beautiful, especially in certain areas. Whether it's a romantic walk or a solitary amble you're after, sunset is a wonderful time to stroll around the city to take in the breathtaking landscapes made all the more dramatic by dusky light. From walking the banks of the Seine to watching the daylight fade on the Eiffel Tower at Esplanade du Trocadero, you're sure to find plenty of picturesque places to watch the sunset in Paris.
The Banks of the Seine and the Ile St Louis
There's a good reason why so many artists—from the Impressionists to the Expressionists—have chosen the Seine River as a subject for their paintings. The Paris riversides (quais in French) afford some fantastic scenery, and at dusk, the light is particularly haunting. Whether you elect to take a stroll on the left bank or the right bank, charter a sunset boat tour of the Seine, or set up a picnic on the island known as the Ile St Louis, few places in the French capital are as perfect for reveling in the dusky hours than along the city's riverbanks.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Paris is home to a number of ornate parks and gardens within the city limits, each of which provides a unique setting to watch the sunset. Among them, the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) in the Sixth Arrondissement of Paris is an idyllic location for a sunset stroll. Jardin du Luxembourg covers 25 hectares (61 acres) of land split into English and French gardens and features over 100 statues, the Medici Fountain, and the Luxembourg Palace. Especially during the autumn months, a walk at dusk in these formal gardens offers plenty of picturesque sights set against stunning skies filled with an especially pearly sort of light.
Place du Panthéon
Also in the Latin Quarter and just across the street from the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Place du Panthéon is another unbeatable spot for sunset views over the city. On a clear night, you might see Notre-Dame Cathedral's towers as well as many other landmarks from the hilly vantage point outside the historic mausoleum, which is dedicated to the great minds of France. Nearby, the Place de la Sorbonne, outside the iconic university, is another beautiful spot at dusk where you can enjoy a drink on one of the terraces lining the square.
Top Floor of the Centre Georges Pompidou
While there are a number of great rooftop bars spread across the city of Paris—including Le Rooftop, Lounge Bar View Rooftop, and Brasserie Auteuil—the rooftop of the Centre Georges Pompidou is perhaps the most splendid place to catch the sunset. Located in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, the Centre Pompidou is a building complex that houses a restaurant known as Georges, the Bibliothèque publique d'information (Public Information Library), the Musée National d'Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art), the largest museum for modern art in Europe. While accessing the top-floor viewing area does require a ticket to the museum or a reservation at Georges, it's well worth the trip for the panoramic views over Paris you'll find here.
The Narrow Streets of the Marais
The Centre Pompidou lies right at the boundary of the old right-bank neighborhood known as the Marais, a cosmopolitan area that's coveted by fashionistas and hipsters but also has historic roots as a Jewish neighborhood and, more recently, a gay-friendly district. In addition to its fantastic shopping, restaurants, street food, and nightlife scene, the Marais is also a great place to visit at sunset. The architecture here is some of the oldest in Paris since the neighborhood was spared being razed and refashioned by the architect Haussmann in the nineteenth century. As a result, a feeling of Old Paris is still very much alive here. Gorgeous hotels particuliers (private mansions)—Renaissance and medieval-era houses—are especially otherworldly at dusk.
The Backstreets of Montmartre
Heading sharply northward from the old Marais, another neighborhood that affords some of the most memorable sunsets is Montmartre, which features rolling hills, classic architecture, and tiny, winding streets behind the district's famed old basilica, Sacré Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart), which offers panoramic views from its front lawn and staircases. While sitting on the steps of the Sacré Coeur is a fine way to see the sunset, the spot gets rather crowded at that time of day. Instead, head down Rue de l'Abreuvoir and Rue des Saule for a sunset-hour walk you won't soon forget. Stop and have a drink on a terrace in the summer and then take in an old cabaret show somewhere nearby. The tourists don't venture back here in quite the same swarms, so it's generally a fairly peaceful place to catch the last rays of light of the day
Canal St Martin and the Bassin de la Villette
A preferred haunt of young, in-the-know Parisians, the banks of the Canal St Martin and, further northeastward, the Bassin de la Villette, are fantastic places to stroll at dusk. Take a leisurely walk around sunset along the banks of the canals, from metro République or Louis-Blanc up toward Jaures or Stalingrad (a map will be essential), before ducking into one of the area's many cool bars and restaurants for drinks or dinner.
The Top Floor of the Institut du Monde Arabe
Designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the Institut du Monde Arabe (Institute of the Arab World) is a striking, 10-story building that houses a museum and library dedicated to literature, artifacts, and arts from the Arab world as well as an auditorium, a cafe, and several offices and meeting rooms. However, the biggest draw of the institute for sunset-viewing tourists is its rooftop terrace. Located in Quartier Saint-Vincent in Paris' Fifth Arrondissement between the Jussieu Campus of Pierre and Marie Curie University and the River Seine, the Institut du Monde Arabe offers stunning views of the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg, Jadin des Plantes, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Esplanade du Trocadero
Located in Paris' 16th Arrondissement across the Sienne from the Eiffel Tower, the Esplanade du Trocadero overlooks the Jardins du Trocadéro and rests at the feet of the Palais de Chaillot but is most famous for its straight-on views of the tower itself. This fantastic spot for dusky views over Paris is also close to the Cité de l'architecture et du Patrimoine (Museum of Architecture and Monuments), the National Marine Museum, the Aquarium de Paris, and the famous Fontaines de Chaillot, meaning you'll have plenty of opportunities to learn and explore before and after you watch the sun set over the Eiffel Tower.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Although the Notre-Dame Cathedral is closed until at least 2025 for renovations after a devastating fire in April of 2019 collapsed the 19th-century spire and 13th-century oak roof, this iconic structure is still a beautiful place to catch the sunset in Paris. This 12th-century Gothic cathedral is an astonishing feat of human achievement—even by today's standards—and witnessing the towers of Notre Dame glowing against the dusky sky whisks visitors back in time to a medieval Paris that's never entirely gone away. Unfortunately, the island that houses Notre Dame is closed to tourists, but you can still catch a sunset view from at the corner of Rue d'Arcole and Rue de Cloitre-Notre-Dame, which is the closest you can get to the cathedral during renovations.