Before I try and convince you that your “Paris time” will be better spent at the top of Tour Montparnasse gazing over Paris at sunset, while you sit down and sip a cool drink, rather than standing in an interminable queue at the Eiffel Tower, with millions of other tourists, while getting all hot and sweaty, there is something that I really must disclose.
You see, for seven years (on and off) I lived in Paris. I have already been to the top of the Eiffel Tower countless times, usually while escorting visiting friends or family.
But not once have I been anywhere near the top of the Eiffel Tower since I first viewed Paris from the top of Tour Montparnasse!
It did take all of my powers of persuasion to convince my friends that they should forget about the Eiffel Tower, and visit Tour Montparnasse instead.
But on every occasion that I did, every single visitor thanked me for advising them to do so.
And I hope that I can convince you too. Your time in Paris is probably limited, so every minute should be as enjoyable as possible.
Tour Eiffel (and some things you really should consider):
1. You WILL stand in a queue.
2. Think about it. The Eiffel Tower is pyramid-shaped. There is simply not enough space on top, for all the people who enter at the bottom.
There are actually two separate elevators to reach the top. The first, travels at an angle, up the “legs” of the tower, as far as the second level. From there, a different elevator, which travels vertically, will take you to the top.
So what happens when there are too many people on top?
They simply stop the second elevator. Meaning that you could stand in line for an hour (or more!), only get as far as the second level, and then have to stand in yet another line.
3. The view from the top. Yes, it is an amazing view. You can see all of Paris. All of the monuments which Paris is famous for.
Except one. The most iconic symbol of Paris. The Eiffel Tower!
Because you’re standing on it!
So if you actually want to see the Eiffel Tower, head for Tour Montparnasse. And then it will be right in front of you. In all of its majesty.
[photo: courtesy of www.tourmontparnasse56.com]
There are actually two viewing areas.
The first is the panoramic Observation Deck on the 56th floor. And is reached, in seconds, by the fastest elevator in Europe.
This is the main viewing area, encompassing nearly the entire floor. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure a breathtaking view over all of Paris.
Dotted along these windows are tables and chairs. And as there is a little cafe/bar serving hot and cold drinks (and snacks), you can sit back and sip your drink – while you look out over Paris.
Oh, and a toilet/washroom should you want to freshen up.
There is also a souvenir shop, where you can also purchase a souvenir photograph of yourself (your photograph is taken when you first arrive).
There is a second viewing area, up on the roof (on the 59th floor). However, there are no elevators, so you will need to climb a lot of stairs.
My advice: Time your visit for an hour before sunset. Visit the main viewing area on the 56th floor. Grab a table by a window (there are no tables or chairs facing the Eiffel Tower though). Order a drink from the cafe. And sit back and enjoy the view.
[and as there is a very short queue to get in, you won’t have to factor in too much “waiting in line” time (I went at sunset on a Saturday evening – which I suspect is one of the busiest times!)]
Visiting in the late afternoon will allow you to see Paris in the daytime and, if you sit for long enough, you will see Paris at night. But it is what happens between the two which is really magical. As Paris begins to darken, lights start appearing in various arrondissements. So you can sit and relax (and possibly enjoy a glass of sparkling French Champagne?), as you watch Paris come to light in front of your eyes. This is truly one of the most magical Paris experiences that you can have.
And when you finally head back down to earth on the superfast elevator, you will be slap bang in the centre of Montparnasse. Where Parisiens spend the evening. Delicious restaurants abound.
So, in summary: No queue, tables and chairs to sit down at, a cafe for food & drink, toilets (including an accessible toilet), and restaurants everywhere when you are ready to leave.
The main viewing area on the 56th floor is completely accessible. Wheelchair-users will need to enter the building by the main entrance, travel up on the elevator, and then buy an entrance ticket (there is no need to go anywhere near the Tour Montparnasse Experience ticket desk – which is most definitely not accessible).
Once on the 56th floor, everything is level. And there is an accessible toilet/washroom.
Visit the Tour Montparnasse website here: https://www.tourmontparnasse56.com/en/