Paris from high above

By Philippa Burne, UK, August 2011

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Paris is about beauty. Not just its art, or its fashion, or even its inhabitants, but the design of the city itself: the buildings and street layout. It’s also a very dense city with narrow streets, lined by generally four or five story buildings. So, how do you get a sense of this city ringed around the Seine River? You need to get high above it, to find a vantage point, get a view. Luckily Paris had lots of places you can do this.

The most obvious is the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 as a temporary structure for the Exposition Universelle, the French were wise enough to leave it standing and make it an icon. It’s not for those who get vertigo but the views are sensational.

If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, head up into Montmartre and climb to Sacre Coeur, the white church on the top of the hill. This is the highest point in the city so you get a nice view.

Another option is to take a respite from your Parisian shopping and head to the rooftop of the department store Galleries Lafayette. Here you’ll find tourists and locals alike sharing a sandwich and gazing over the rooftops around the Paris Opera. Not quite as high up as the Eiffel Tower but still a bird’s eye view.

Similarly, there are nice views across rooftops from the top floors of the Centre Pompidou gallery. And to get a real sense of the axial layout of the streets of Paris, head up the Champs-Elysees and to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Set in the middle of the traffic circus Place Charles de Gaulle (originally called Place de l’Etoile), many streets radiate out from here into Paris.

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