16 February 2006

Add La Tour Montparnasse to your list!

Back in December, I discussed the best things to climb in order to get a good view of Paris. At the time, I hadn't climbed La Tour Montparnasse, so I couldn't offer my assessment at the time.

I did it yesterday.

It's fantastic!

After careful thought (at least 2 minutes worth), I've decided that this climb ties the Eiffel Tower for best view of Paris. The cost for this elevator ride is 8 euros 50 (full price for adults, with discounts for students, kids, etc), and much unlike La Grande Arche de la Défense, it's worth the money. Here's why:
  • The roof is fairly large, so you can look around without having to squeeze past other people. I'm sure it will get a lot more crowded during tourist season, but it was great yesterday.
  • The roof has sketches of the skyline, so that you can orient yourself for taking pictures. Of course, it's easier to do if you know the city, but I think the sketches help.
  • Inside, on the 56th floor, there are lighted, labeled photos of the skyline under each of the big windows, so if you don't know Paris very well, you can still find major points of interest.
  • The view from the inside is really great, so if it's really hot or really cold and you're not in the mood to be in the elements, you can stay indoors.
  • If you think La Tour Montparnasse is ugly, then this is the best view of Paris for you: this building won't be in your skyline photos!
The only drawback I really noticed was that you can't actually see the river because you're not quite high enough or close enough.

I posted all of my pictures from the roof to our Photosite, http://caroust.photosite.com. There are a few other newer photos, too, if you're curious. In the meantime, here's a shot of the train station at Montparnasse, as seen from on high.

So, here is my revised recommended list for "The Climbs of Paris":

Tie for First Place: The Eiffel Tower and La Tour Montparnasse
If you want a daytime view of the city, go for Montparnasse. Given the notariety of the Eiffel Tower, La Tour Montparnasse is likely to be less crowded. Plus, there will be fewer aggressive salespeople trying to strongarm you into buying a cheap plastic model of it.

Second Place: Arc de Triomphe
I can't help it: I really love this view. If you don't want to pay the money, or stairs are an issue, a cost-effective substitute is to ride the escalators up to the top of the department store Printemps.

Third Place: Notre Dame
This climb is strictly to see the gargoyles up close. The view from the very top of the tower is no better than what you'll get anywhere else, but you'll be looking through plexiglass while standing in a super-tight walkway. (You can just look at the gargoyles, get a good view of the city from that level, and then skip the top all together.)

Fourth Place: The dome of Sacre Coeur
It's a pretty inexpensive climb (5 euros), but the view from the top of Montmartre is just as good. (Montmartre is the hill that Sacre Coeur sits on.)

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