I feel like when someone visits Paris for the first time, climbing the Eiffel Tower to get a glimpse of the city from above is usually at the very top of their “must-do” list. I can definitely understand this since the Eiffel Tower is the most well-known monument in the city and, like many others, it was one of the things I checked off my bucket list on my first trip to Paris. However, if you’re looking for the best views of Paris don’t let the hype surrounding the Eiffel Tower blind you to the other wonders of Paris because you can get even better views of the city from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
In my opinion, there are a ton of reasons to choose the Arc de Triomphe over the Eiffel Tower but the most important are the significantly shorter lines and you have the most well-known monument in the city (Eiffel Tower!) in your photos. It seems pretty obvious that if you want the best views of Paris that include the city’s most famous icon, then the Arc de Triomphe is the spot for you.
The Arc de Triomphe is located at one end of Paris’s most famous avenue, the Champs Elysees. Twelve streets converge around the Arc de Triomphe making it a traffic nightmare. Do not attempt to cross the street to reach the Arc de Triomphe, instead use the underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle (you can access the tunnel from the Wagram exit of the metro).
The area around the Arc de Triomphe is somewhat chaotic with groups of tourists snapping photos, car horns honking all around, and people trying to sell you stuff you don’t need at every corner. It was pretty amusing to stand on the corner watching the hoards of cars crammed side by side trying to maneuver around the monument. After a while, Sant and I left to locate the underground tunnel that leads to the Arc de Triomphe and hurried to purchase our tickets (8 euros for adults and 5 euros for students). We waited in line for no more than 5 minutes before grabbing our tickets and beginning the 284 step climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
We stepped out of the stairwell and emerged on the roof of the Arc de Triomphe and were immediately captivated by downtown Paris towering in the distance.
As we moved along the rooftop, I spotted Montmartre in the distance and recognized the beautiful Sacre Coeur perched on top of the hill.
We continued around the rooftop to find the Eiffel Tower and as my eyes found the prominent monument in the distance standing high above the surrounding buildings, I found myself speechless at the beauty. The first time I visited Paris while I was studying abroad, I climbed the Eiffel Tower and found myself mesmerized by the beautiful views, but this was beauty on a completely different level. The views from the rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe were truly spectacular and having the Eiffel Tower in view really makes all the difference.
We spent time roaming around the rooftop soaking in the stunning panoramic views of Paris. After relaxing on the roof for a bit, we headed back down the Arc de Triomphe and spent some time poking around the base of the monument. I was fascinated by all the designs etched into the underside of the arch and the beautiful artwork decorating the outside.
I was pleasantly surprised and blown away by the incredible views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. When you first think about climbing the Eiffel Tower to get a bird’s-eye view of the city, you often forget that you won’t be able to see the city’s most famous symbol in any of your shots because you’re standing on it. It’s an easy thing to overlook, but it can make all the difference if you’re wanting phenomenal panoramic views of the city. Trust me on this, next time you’re in Paris take a trip up the Arc de Triomphe and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Have you been to the top of the Arc de Triomphe? Do you prefer the views from the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!