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Views from the Top: La Tour Eiffel and Arc de Triomphe

As a novice traveler, I was rather – how should I put this – ravenous in devouring the new experiences in a city. Suddenly, money is no longer a concern as long as I get to do EVERYTHING the city has to offer. Silly, I know! I religiously abode by the “you are here, so you might as well do it” attitude, which, suffice it to say, is not the wisest advice to follow (that is, except for Gaudi in Barcelona – you ALWAYS visit all of Gaudi’s works!). Needless to say, I spent a significant amount of money for entrance and/or climbing fees during my first trip abroad. And as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I climbed to the top of both the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. I know, I should have added Notre-Dame and Sacre-Coeur while at it, huh?

Since I already made the mistake of spending money unnecessarily, I’m going to share my experiences with you and hopefully it’ll help you decide which one to go up to. That way, you don’t have to make the same mistake I did. Unless, of course, you have money to spare. Actually, even so, I’d suggest you spend the extra Euros on macarons or other french pastries!

La Tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower)

Metro: Champ de Mars/Tour Eiffel or Ecole Militaire or Bir-Hakeim


I really have nothing to say about La Tour Eiffel except this: It’s probably the most-famous landmark in the world, so GO!

The view from the first observatory deck of the Eiffel Tower.

The view from the first observatory deck of the Eiffel Tower.

The view towards Montparnasse from the higher observation deck.

The view towards Montparnasse from the higher observation deck.

The Arc de Triomphe as seen from the top of the Tower

The Arc de Triomphe as seen from the top of the Tower

Arc de Triomphe

Metro: Charles de Gaule-Etoile

Built between 1806 and 1836, the arch serves to commemorate the bravery of those who fought for France in the Napoleonic Wars. Underneath its vault sits the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and the Memorial Flame, the first of its kind in Europe.


Located at the western end of Champ-Elysees, the monument is built in the middle of the converging point of 12 very busy avenues in Paris, making it one of the busiest round-abouts I’ve ever encountered (see picture above). You CANNOT jay-walk this and I advise you to not even try it. The view from the top, though, is definitely much better than the one seen from the Eiffel Tower.

Looking down Champ-Elysees

Looking down towards Champ-Elysees


The view towards Sacre-Coeur

The view towards Sacre-Coeur (please pretend the crane doesn’t exist!)

If you want to hit 2 birds with 1 stone, I suggest you get off 2 stops earlier at Palais Royal/Musee du Louvre and walk down Champ-Elysees. It’s not a very far walk and you’ll have lots of things to entertain you along the way. Plus you’ll get amazing views of the arch as you approach it.


Also, this is the chance to grab an authentic Parisian crepe from one of the stands that are ubiquitous throughout Paris. Take note, though, Parisians don’t EVER walk and eat at the same time. So, make sure you sit at the nearest bench while eating your crepes lest you risk being stared at (true story!).


I no longer travel this way, though. I now pick and choose what I want to do/see, so I come out of the experience feeling more satisfied. I think the more you travel, the more you learn the how of traveling. But, that’s an entirely different post – next time, maybe!
What do you think? If you have to choose, which one would you climb? 

7 responses »

  1. I would climb the Arc because you can see the Eiffel Tower which is more iconic in your panorama!
    In Florence I also researched what to climb and we ended up choosing Palazzo Vecchio’s Arnolfo Tower instead of the two popular destinations (the Duomo and Giotto’s bell tower). It was recently renovated and free of tourists (I think there were only 5 other people in there AND we were alone at the top for a good 15 to 20 minutes). Amazing experience! And our panorama has the Duomo and bell tower in it– so it’s a better view from the top too.

  2. I’m with you on the whole “you’re already here, might as well…” coz I know realistically I’m probably not going back to the same place twice… so, might as well, right? 🙂 Add to that I’m a big sucker for viewpoints. Hah!

  3. Great tips! I suffer from that urge to do everything when I travel too. Last year in Bolivia I was happily signing up for all the tours and then I crossed the border to Chile where everything was 5 times more expensive! It was touch to suddenly have to start making choices!

  4. I would definitely climb the Arc de Triomphe if I had to chose so I could have the Eiffel Tower in my photos! It’s a tough choice though

  5. Nice post, reminds me good times that I had, when I was visiting this amazing city.


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