Picture Perfect Panorama from the Arc de Triomphe
Paris is a feeding ground for hungry snap-happy tourists. The city streets are loaded with remarkable architecture, formidable cathedrals and historical landmarks.
Without question, the city’s star attraction is the Eiffel Tower, the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world. Tourists flock from around the globe to capture the exquisite Parisian cityscape from its popular viewing decks.
In peak season, it’s not uncommon for visitors to wait upwards of 3 hours just to reach the observatory platform. But what many tourists don’t know is that there’s another fantastic viewing deck that rivals that of the Eiffel Tower.
Proudly standing at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle on the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe is no stranger to the sightseeing circuit. It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in Paris. But, if you’re anything like us, you might not know that it also has a rooftop viewing deck that serves up spectacular Parisian panorama.
When we traveled to Paris in 2009 we visited the Arc de Triomphe and snapped a few standard tourist shots, admiring the elegant monument from ground level. We circled the enormous roundabout but could not find a crosswalk that lead to the base of the Arc.
The traffic was far too thick and aggressive to attempt crossing on foot, so we moved on and assumed it was inaccessible to the public (we were visiting during winter, so there were no tourists visible). When we returned to Paris this past summer, we learned of our silly mistake. There is an underground tunnel that leads to the base of the Arc de Triomphe, safely avoiding the traffic chaos above. Doh!
Not willing to brave the endless Eiffel Tower lineups (especially with a one year old baby), we decided to revisit the Arc de Triomphe and see the views from its observation deck.
At less than 10 Euros, it’s also a cheap alternative to the Eiffel Tower. The only catch is that you have to do some stair climbing. To access the viewing deck, you can either climb the 284 steps or take an elevator to mid-level and climb 64 stairs to the top.
Here are a few photos captured from a summer evening at the Arc de Triomphe. As you can see, the views are quite spectacular!
The windy staircase inside the Arc du Triomphe
Inside the Arc at mid level. It’s quite big.
Tourists soaking up the Parisian cityscape, notice the proximity to the Eiffel Tower
Evening shadow of the Arc du Triomphe on neighbouring buildings
Views of La Défense, the major business district of Paris