Our Top 5 Places to Photograph Paris from Above
This post may contain sponsored or affiliate links.
Want more Paris tips and tricks from local insiders? Join our free Urbansider Club to receive recommendations in your inbox and save your favorite places to your account!
Life changes, unexpectedly and abruptly. Plans are put on hold, or worse, canceled. Long-nurtured dreams have to remain, well, dreams. Nevertheless, as long as there is life, there is hope, therefore I dream. Of my favorite places, of the things I’ll do, the people I’ll meet, the images I’ll create. One day, soon. And so will you.
For now, come with me on a virtual photo trip through Paris. We’ll pick some spots to see the city from above, enjoy sunsets, watch the rain fall, or simply let our eyes take in the splendor of the city we love.
Let’s start with one of the best rooftop views of the city (and my personal favorite), the view from the Panthéon, in the 5th Arrondissement.
1. The Panthéon
Don’t rush upstairs to the colonnade yet, because there is so much to see as you walk into the Panthéon. Enjoy the monumental architecture, the paintings, Foucault’s famous pendulum, visit the crypt and pay homage to some of France’s greatest: Voltaire, Rousseau, Dumas, to name a few.
When you’re ready (preferably you would time this around the golden hour for the best photos), climb up the steps and prepare yourself for a memorable sight—the panorama from the colonnade is breathtaking. A 360-degree show of splendor and architectural delight, Paris lies at your feet, ready to be admired.
Across the city, perched up on Butte Montmartre, sits our next destination. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, a gem of Roman-Byzantine architecture, has only been around for one hundred years but it quickly gained a solid reputation as one of the top landmarks to see in Paris.
Walk inside, maybe sit down for a few minutes and let the peace and quiet surround you. Prepare yourself for the steep walk up to the cupola. Three hundred narrow, sinuous steps will take you to the top. Once there, you can walk around the open-air gallery and marvel at the expanse of the city. Even the Eiffel Tower looks tiny in the distance.
3. Galeries Lafayette
Shall we walk the thirty minutes from Montmartre to Galeries Lafayette? No, we’re not going shopping, although you can certainly do that if you wish — the legendary department store is surely worth a visit. We are, however, going up to the seventh floor to the Lafayette rooftop terrace where we can breathe some fresh air and get up close and personal with the roofs of Paris!
One of the closest is the famous green roof of the Opéra Garnier. You can get a good look at the statue of Apollo, lifting his golden lyre to the sky, and see the genius of Baron Haussmann at work, one neat and uniform group of beige buildings after another.
Just a stone’s throw away from Les Galeries on Boulevard Haussmann, rival Parisian retail giant Printemps also boasts fabulous views from its top floors. Not to be outdone by its close-by competitor, here, you have the option of indoor or outdoor dining while taking in the Parisian panoramas.
With Montmartre on one side, the Eiffel Tower on another, and the gilded domes of Printemps just below, you’re spoiled for choice, or as the French say, vous n’avez que l’embarras du choix. And while you’re here, don’t miss the art nouveau cupola of Brasserie Printemps, located on the sixth floor of Printemps Women.
5. Musée d’Orsay
Crossing the Seine to the Left Bank, let’s take moment to stop by the Musée d’Orsay. We’ll spend some time enjoying the stunning works of art — the Impressionist collection is a must-see! — and the sheer majesty of the building itself, before heading upstairs. Did you know that the museum has its own rooftop terrace?
The views from the Musée d’Orsay stretch across the Seine and its bridges, embrace the wide expanse of the Louvre, and go far into the distance all the way back to Montmartre. And don’t forget to peek through the glass of the giant Orsay clock that has become somewhat of an Instagram legend. You might have to wait for your turn, as it is a very popular selfie spot. Who knows, maybe your own photo will have a chance to go viral.
These are my five top spots to see — and shoot — Paris from above. Yes, there are many more, including famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Tour Montparnasse, Arc de Triomphe or L’Institut du Monde Arabe. Or maybe you have your own undiscovered gems.
Share your favorite views of the city with us by using #urbansider on social media, we’d love to see them all!
Pastry Tour of Le MaraisLe Marais is arguably the hippest neighborhood in Paris. While some may say that there are too many fashionistas, bobos, and tourists in the area, the charming cobblestone streets and vibrant atmosphere just can’t be beat. But Le Marais isn’t just about appearances. Local guides Nikki and Frederi…
Discover the Goutte d’OrDiscover a side of Paris that most tourists never see. Frederic of TheWaysBeyond takes you on a walking tour you of his old neighborhood, La Goutte d’Or, one of Paris’s most authentic multi-cultural melting pots. Here, Parisians of dozens of different nationalities come together to share their tr…
French Caviar TastingThe caviar you are about to discover is produced in the Dordogne region to the rhythms of the seasons and the life of sturgeons. This product of excellence, based on the valorization of a unique land and on innovative production techniques, is the reflection of impeccable standards. Research inno…
Walk Through History in Le MaraisFollow local guides Frederic and Nikki of TheWaysBeyond through the city squares and alleyways of Le Marais as you retrace the history of this iconic Parisian neighborhood. If many today consider Le Marais a must-see on any trip to Paris, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, in the early 20th cent…
Discover a Greener Side of ParisLet locals Frederic and Nikki of TheWaysBeyond guide you through the small streets off the Canal Saint-Martin and introduce you to some of the most exciting actors and addresses on Paris’s eco-conscious scene. The Canal Saint Martin neighborhood has always attracted an eclectic crowd, …
Stroll Through 19th-Century ParisStep back in time and into the Paris of the 19th century. Learn how the architecture, innovations, and politics of the time shaped the city as you walk its charming streets, explore its covered passages, and shop in one of the world’s first department stores — just as Parisians did then! A…
See the Sights Along the SeineSpend a leisurely morning like a true Parisian! Your local guide Sophie will meet you for a sightseeing stroll along the Seine, telling you tales of Paris past as you make your way east to explore a historic area before ending at a popular fresh food market just in time for lunch!
Wine & Cheese PairingThis experience is an excellent opportunity for people who want to have a light introduction to French wines and discover how to pair them perfectly with French cheeses. You’ll get all the basic information you need to know about wine in France, including proper terminology, proper wine ta…
More Paris Travel Tips
Join our free Urbansider Club to access personalized recommendations, downloadable guides, and a monthly newsletter with the latest from Paris as well as our new top addresses and experiences. You’ll also be invited to our exclusive Urbansider events in Paris.