Gather ’round kiddies, today we are going to talk about where to find the best view in Paris, and no, its not from the Eiffel Tower.
You might be thinking “but Mackenzie, the Eiffel Tower is crazy tall, how could the best view not be from all the way up there!? You cray!”. You might be thinking that, and you might be wrong. I mean, wrong in my opinion at least, I suppose good views are entirely subjective. However, after two trips to Paris, it is my humble opinion that the best views in Paris are actually from the Arc de Triomphe. If you can trudge up the 284 stairs to get to the top, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful 360 degree views of the whole city!
The Arc de Triomphe is probably the second most recognizable monument in the city (behind the Eiffel Tower, of course), and it is in the center of everything. Napoleon had it built to honor those who fought in the French Revolutionary, and Napoleonic wars, promising his army that they would “return home through archs of triumph”. Construction was ordered in 1806, and it was completed thirty years later in 1836. The construction of things like this is absolutely fascinating to me. Thirty years is downright speedy compared to the almost two hundred year construction of Notre Dame. Building cathedrals and monuments like was a process that spanned generations, and the designers very rarely got to see the finished products. Not even Napoleon got to see the completed Arc de Triomphe that he commissioned, he died halfway through its
One of the main reasons that I think the best views can be found at the Arc de Triomphe is that the view includes the Eiffel Tower! The other reason is that it is far more accessible, and far less crowded. The first time I went to Paris, we had to try three times before getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower. They close the top observation deck when it gets too crowded, and then have to wait until people come back down until they can open it back up again. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that, no one wants to be in a safety hazard that is 906 feet above the ground, but it makes it hard to plan a trip to the top.
If you visit the Arc de Triomphe you are able to do it at your own convenience. You can wander up the Champs Elysees at your leisure, do some shopping, stop in a cafe and grab a glass of wine (or five), then spend about a half an hour trying to figure out how to cross the busy traffic circle that surrounds it (doesn’t it take everyone that long? No? Just us?). Spoilers: there is an underground tunnel. You should never try to walk across that road. You get a great workout walking up over two hundred stairs (there is an elevator for the people that need it), which I was actually pretty grateful for seeing as I spent the whole trip trying to eat as much French cuisine as possible! Once you get to the very top, you are greeted with a gorgeous 360 degree view of Paris that can’t be beat!
We timed our visit for right around sunset, and it was absolutely breath taking. I was so excited show Mandy the view from the top, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening to do it.