Don’t climb Notre Dame! Visit Montparnasse Tower, instead.

Montparnasse Tower overlooking Paris
Photo credit:

Everyone knows the towers of Notre Dame are classic, and the view they provide is even more so.

But if you’ve walked around Ile-de-la-Cité on a summer afternoon, you’ll also be aware that Paris can be very hot and her landmarks anxiety-inducingly crowded. Like… masses of humanity crowded.

So, instead of waiting for two hours just to get in to Notre Dame (with several hundred of your closest friends), take a ride off the beaten path. Hop a metro across town to Montparnasse Tower, pay a couple bucks more, and see all the loveliest landmarks in Paris from a one-of-a-kind perspective.

Boyfriend Perspective: If you like even an inch of elbow room – hell, shoulder room – you will want to skip Notre Dame. Even its courtyard and plaza were standing room only at midday. While amazing to look at, it’s better to view from afar.


The Montparnasse Tower experience

Photo credit: 365 Tickets

After you hop off the metro, walk outside the station and follow signs for Montparnasse Tower’s observation deck.

Once you get inside the lobby, you can order your tickets (if you haven’t ordered online already) and get a brochure about the experience. From there, you’ll get in line to get your bags x-rayed and go through a metal detector. Luckily, it wasn’t terribly busy, so we didn’t have to wait TOO long.

At that point, it’s on to the elevator which, in 38 seconds, catapults you to the 56th story of the skyscraper. This looks a whole lot like the touristy part of the Empire State Building, or the Space Needle in Seattle. Skip it, and hoof the additional 3 floors up on foot.

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Then, emerge out onto the observation deck. It’s breezy, bright, and enclosed in glass. There are binoculars on all sides, and you get a no-holds-barred view of this fantastic city.


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19 Replies to “Don’t climb Notre Dame! Visit Montparnasse Tower, instead.”

  1. This is definitely a different area that don’t get that many visitors in Paris. The view from there is truly amazing! For Notre Dame though, we got lucky to visit in early hours on a Winter day – definitely the way to beat the crowd!

    1. Aw, see, that’s perfect. If we could do ND like that, 100% would! To your point, always looking for ways to beat the crazy crowds 🙂

  2. Wow! Absolutely stunning views! I read somewhere that you can get up for free on certain days/after a certain time, but can’t remember when. But even if you have to pay, it looks like it’s totally worth it!

    1. Oo! We’ll have to look into that when we return. They also do a daytime and sunset combined pass, so you can come back after hours and see the city lit from below. Captures the imagination, doesn’t it? 🙂

  3. What a great idea for avoiding some of the huge crowds in Paris. We didn’t climb Notre Dame because of the wait and I wish we had known about this alternative.

    1. I sympathize! Hopefully at least you’ll have some new ideas when you go back so you can get your views 😀

  4. I adore alternatives to busy tourist spots so this is great! There’s nothing like a 3 hour wait to put you in a bad mood. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Of course! Hope it helps next time you head to Paris 🙂

  5. Nice simple post here that is all kinds of useful. Thanks for putting this together, and I’ll bookmark this for later use next time I’m back!

    1. Thank you, and I’m so glad you enjoyed!!

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am an introvert, and though I love to travel. I hate crowds. I hate waiting in line. And I hate not being able to walk around or catch your breath in a crowded place. I will put this on my list of places to visit. The sites look amazing.

    1. You are SO WELCOME 🙂 I can wholeheartedly relate to all of the above!!

  7. I agree. Get high, but you don’t have to do it in claustrophobic staircases. Everyone loves a view, don’t they?

    1. Especially if you’ve got a camera, yes – views are always a hit. In Paris, it’s especially charming because you get to see all of those landmarks you’ve grown up hearing about just spread out right in front of you. Not a bad deal 🙂

  8. Great advice! When I was in Paris, I did end up in the very long queue for Notre Dame. I wish I had known about this alternative!

    1. I’m sure it was worth the wait, though! 😉

  9. Thank you so much for putting this tower on my radar! What a view! And, I love that the line is shorter! Sounds like the perfect, if not better, alternative. Who wants to wait in a line for 2+ hours? Not me.

  10. We got the chance to visit here a few years ago with our family. Definitely worth the elevator ride for the view.

    1. Hah, it’s an ear-popping ride for sure, but I’m glad you enjoyed your visit as much as we did!

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