Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tour Montparnasse

There's an old joke that the best view of Paris is from the Tour Montparnasse because you can't actually see the building when you're standing atop it. It's true that the building is just a horrible wreck of a structure. Built in the early 1970s, it sticks out of the Paris skyline like the proverbial sore thumb. Dark and hulking, it's ugly enough that it resulted in a law being passed banning further skyscraper construction within city limits. The fact that the bulk of the building has been closed for the past three years for absestos removal only adds insult to injury.

But what I learned this week is that it really does have the best view of Paris and the surrounding communities even without the punchline. It's not as elegant or romantic as the Eiffel Tower or as storied as the Pantheon or as awe inspiring as the Arc de Triomphe. But the vistas are spectacular, the location is central and best of all, there are no lines. Seriously, we waited all of 10 minutes to buy our ticket and be whisked to the top. And once we were up there, we stayed a good hour, looking for landmarks, using the touch screen screens to learn more about the building and the Paris skyline, and watching two short videos. Much of the time was spent inside; we walked up the extra flights to the bare rooftop terrace but rain and a stiff wind sent us back inside. Still it was worth a look; if nothing else to remember that scene in Paris Je T'Aime told from the perspective of an American tourist or the sad moment in the more recent movie Paris in which a grieving man has to fulfill his late ex-wife's wishes that her ashes be scattered from there.

All told I'm going to revise my advice to tourists: by all means go by the Eiffel Tower, once during the day to appreciate its grandeur and once at night to see the lights. But it's a view you want, then head for the Tour Montparnasse. You won't spend half your vacation in a line and you won't be disappointed when you get to the top.



Now there's a view you'll never see from the top of the Eiffel Tower!

5 comments:

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Anne

I went to Tour Montparnasse last August with my two friends that live in Paris suburbs, one has been before, but my other friend has lived here 20 years and never been. We had a brilliant time, spent a while in side and then climbed the last steps. Like you say one few you will never see from the Eiffel tower is the "Eiffel Tower".

Duchesse said...

And you can sit in the restaurant on the 54th floor (I think), have a drink and enjoy the view on a chilly Sunday afternoon:) Finally did it on my 5th trip to Paris a few years back and really loved it!:) Too bad it's not a rotating restaurant, that would be even better!

While they're clearing out the asbestos, couldn't they fix the exterior so it looks like some Art Deco New York building instead of this eyesore?!

debbie in toronto said...

well I can't believe it's still having that construction..two years ago it was a mess ..I couldn't find the entrance so I gave up...I'll try again this time..we are staying fairly close by...gotta see that view...

Lisa said...

So glad you are back sharing your perspective with us again! I have missed my daily dose of Paris.

Madeleine said...

I must be a small person but, I have to admit, your blog always makes me a tad jealous! Not so jealous that I can't be happy for you to be livin' the life! Enjoy it!

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