Climb up the 223 foot (67 meters) stone staircase for an encounter with strange stone creatures that might have inspired Tolkien's books on the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those 400 steps take you into a different world. Fantastic gargoyles in the form of half-man, half-beast creatures, serpents and strange mixtures of talons, tongues, and claws look out over the city of Paris. Quasimodo, Victor Hugo’s famous bell ringer in The Hunchback of Notre Dame isn’t one of the gargoyles but it’s easy to imagine him up here looking out over the roofscape.
Oh, and the views over the river Seine and to the Eiffel Tower are quite magnificent.
Eiffel Tower View
The top (or even the 2nd floor) of the Eiffel Tower gives you great views and a good look at the western side of the city with the Champ de Mars below you. From the top you can, on that proverbial clear day, see for 40 miles (65 km). Thank goodness that the Tower was saved; it was meant to be a temporary structure built by Gustave-Alexandre Eiffel in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition. If you go at night, you see the lights of Paris twinkling and dancing below you; and every hour there’s a spectacular light show from the Tower. With good reason, the Eiffel Tower is the 3rd most popular attraction in France.
But the views of the Eiffel Tower from a distance are just as intriguing, and as this is one of the great icons of the City of Light, make sure you have a photograph of the soaring, lace-like structure. Take the metro to Torcadéro, and walk across the Seine from the Palais de Chaillot gardens.
Arc de Triomphe View
Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe commemorates the victories of the Grand Army. Ironically it was finished in 1836 after Napoleon had died. The famous tower is a focal point for France, used for state funerals and as the final stage of the Tour de France.
It’s a 280-step climb to the top, but worth the effort for panoramic views down the Champs-Elysées and beyond.
You’ll get a fantastic view of Paris from the top of one of the few skyscrapers Paris has allowed to be built. The observation deck at 656 ft (210 meters) high on the 56th floor shows Paris below you. It’s enclosed and there are information panels so you can identify what you’re looking at. There’s a café and a rooftop Champagne Bar and the fastest lift in France to take you there.
The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur
You see the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur from most of Paris. It's not a tall building itself, just a bit over 80 meters high. But it is at the top of Montmartre hill so gives you a fabulous view over the city. Amazingly you're almost as high up as the Eiffel Tower.
Views From the Bridges Over the Seine River
There are 37 bridges across the Seine in Paris, so you’ve got plenty of choices. Stroll along the river banks that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for some of the great iconic sites of Paris.
The Pont Neuf is one of the best known and is the oldest bridge, despite its name of New Bridge. Opened in 1607 and the first Paris bridge to be free of houses, it links the Right and Left Bank, crossing the western end of the Ile de la Cité. The Pont Alexandre III was named after the Tsar of Russia at a time when Franco-Russian relations were at their height. The first stone was laid by Alexandre’s son, Nicholas II in 1896 and opened in 1900 for the World Exhibition. It links the Hôtel des Invalides with the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais and is considered one of the most beautiful of the Seine river bridges with its extravagant statues, lights, and nymphs.
The Pont des Arts bridge became famous for its love locks, until the Parisian authorities removed them all in June 2015, due to the weight of the brass.