The height restrictions of central Paris are a key factor in the city’s harmonious charm. You see so much of the sky that you feel as though you can breathe, inhaling deeply and relaxing all the more with each exhalation — which can’t be said for most of the world’s major metropolises.
One of the most calming of activities in town has to be a stroll along the Seine. You’re at one with the elements of both air and water. You feel totally immersed.
After a while, though, you might crave extra, wanting to take in more of the city.
But the thing about inner Paris’s height-challenged architecture is that you mostly stay scratching about at surface level.
Sure, you can go to the Eiffel Tower, and gaze back upstream, admiring how the Seine is unfurled across the city like a satin ribbon.
But that requires a trek and a ticket and a few hours out of your day. So how can you get the best river views while staying central?
If you don’t have a penthouse apartment like this one, that is …
Le sigh …
In past years you could have gone up the towers of Notre-Dame, where the gaggle of Gothic stone creatures that loom there enjoy some of the most magical views in town.
While the cathedral is closed for restoration, there’s another Gothic tower that proffers fabulous river views.
The Tour Saint-Jacques is the remaining belltower of a sixteenth-century church destroyed in the years following the Revolution. It’s open for limited guided visits in warmer months (until 7th November this year). Buy your ticket here. The 300-step climb of the tower is more than worth it for the 360-degree views you get up amid the gargoyles.
The newest way to overlook the Seine is from the just-opened super-luxe hotel Cheval Blanc, situated in the river-side section of the recently renovated La Samaritaine complex.
The suites come complete with dreamy views across Pont Neuf and downstream towards the Eiffel Tower — a vista that looks particularly glorious come golden hour. If you can’t justify the thousand-euro-plus-per-night rate, you can always pop in for a meal or cocktail at, say, Le Tout Paris, a brasserie-bar up on the seventh floor featuring several areas such as a hanging garden with rooftop views — but how fabulous is the outlook from its panoramic terrace?
Another restaurant that serves up sensational Seine views is the legendary La Tour d’Argent …
Although you can savour a similar vista for free at the Institut du Monde Arabe, up on the rooftop terrace:
Just make sure to reserve your spot.
Another Seine-side rooftop terrace is that of the Musée d’Orsay, where you can sigh up to Sacré-Coeur, and over to the Louvre (and envy those lucky types who study and work in the Pavillon de Flore, which must have the most incredible window views).
Another Seine-side rooftop terrace is that of the Musée d’Orsay …
… where you can sigh up to Sacré-Coeur, and over to the Louvre (and envy those lucky types who study and work in the Pavillon de Flore, which must have the most incredible window views).
Finally — and one for all the armchair travellers — there’s always Google Earth! Or glossier yet, the gorgeous new coffee table book, Paris: From the Air by Jeffrey Milstein.
It features a heart-fluttering array of photos of our favourite city, taken at thrilling angles. How stunning is this image?: