If you love going up towers to see beautiful cityscapes, don’t pass up on the Montparnasse tower in Paris! I think the best time to go up the tower is about 40 minutes before sunset. This way you can see what the city looks like while it’s still bright and stake out the best spot to see the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower.
During my trip to London, I had saved the view from the Shard till the last day. In Paris my schedule worked sort of the opposite way around. I went up the Montparnasse Tower on the first evening I was there. It was lucky that I did because by my last day in Paris it started pouring by the bucketful. From experience I’ve learned that it’s always bad luck to go up a tower on a cloudy or rainy day. Chances are, you won’t see much anything.
When I had arrived at the Montparnasse Tower, there was still some time before sunset. I had a look around and enjoyed the airy feeling of the observatory deck. As you can see, the deck doesn’t have a roof overhead so it’s refreshing to feel the breezy air while looking down at the heart of Paris. There was a small open gap in certain parts of the windows so you can take photos without having to deal with window reflections. If you look on the left side of this photo, you’ll see people have set up tripods in front of the gaps.
Doesn’t it look like someone just plowed through a field of buildings? I kept mentioning that feeling in my previous posts on Paris, and I feel like this photo shows exactly what I mean by it. I don’t think I’ve ever had this feeling while I was in other cities, even when I was in Rome. It was just this endless street in the middle of a city; not even a highway.
As it was only my first day in Paris, I wasn’t able to recognize any of the buildings that I saw from the tower. Part of it had to do with the fact that the places I visited weren’t exactly in viewing distance or in size. Another part of it had to do with the fact that some of the buildings I was able to spot from the tower hadn’t been on my itinerary. If I do get to visit Paris again some day, I’ll be glad that I can refer back to these shots for some inspiration.
The Eiffel Tower was a little farther away than I had expected. I was using the 18-55mm bundle lens on the Sony Nex-3 at the time, and even zoomed in the Eiffel felt far away. I imagine there are better places to get shots of the Eiffel Tower at sunset if you’re not traveling with a zoom lens. There were quite a few photographers that had brought their tripods and had set up camp at the best locations before the sun had even started to set. It was probably a wise thing to do as soon everybody started flocking towards those spots to take pictures. Luckily was able to squeeze into a small gap between two tripods to take some photos. If you are serious about doing some photography, I do recommend that you bring a tripod. There were a lot of people trying to take photos at the gaps, but there was less pressure for the people with tripods to move out of the way. Also, if you plan to stake out a spot and stay there during the entire sunset, please don’t take pictures with an iPad. It’s really obnoxious to have this big rectangular screen waving about in front of you, and just get’s in the way of everyone’s view.
The wonderful thing about the view from the Montparnasse Tower is just how much sky you can see above the tower. If I were to stand on the ground, I probably would have been absorbed into the wash of orange across the sky. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just that I probably wouldn’t have seen this almost flowery shape of the cloud and how the lovely sky blue transitions into orange with the movement of the sun.
These were only a handful of photos I took while at the Montparnasse Tower. There were so many that I decided to divide them into a separate post. I just wanted to show you what Paris looks like from above, before getting into the beautiful colors of the sunset and sparkles of Paris.