The famous zinc rooftops of Paris have inspired many artists throughout the centuries, from Van Gogh to Henry Miller’s forthright descriptions of the City of Light in his novel Tropic of Cancer. “From a distance,” Miller wrote, “[Paris] seems ravishing, you can’t wait until you have her in your arms.” To see this city the way Miller saw her, seek out towering vantage points and unusual perspectives. While a trip to Paris may seem somehow incomplete without ascending the Eiffel Tower’s 704 metallic stairs for a panoramic view of the city, these less-touristy spots offer remarkable perspectives of Paris without the clichés and crowds. The almost monochromatic skyline (that never ceases to overwhelm me) is just as impactful from one of these chic cafes or well-positioned buildings. For the best vistas in the city—a birds-eye view of Paris’ iconic monuments or a romantic lookout from a charming Parisian bar—head to one of my five favorite lookouts.
Occupying a section of the Louvre’s main courtyard, Cour Napoleon, this address flaunts an unmatched front-row seat to I.M. Pei’s famous 70-foot tall glass pyramid. Grab a table outside under the sculpted stone colonnaded balcony, and sip a glass of champagne while watching visitors and locals alike mill around the plaza.
Find this rooftop restaurant and bar nested on the seventh floor of an old office building in the industrial district. Take the lift up at sunset for cocktails and Instagram-worthy photos of the city (including the Sacré Coeur in the North). Later, duck downstairs for Chef Dumas’ always-changing menu. Don’t skip the seared tuna potato chips with spicy mayo and leeks: the signature dish brought on regularly by popular demand.
Overlooking the Seine, this Savoir Faire development houses a fashion school, a museum, design-driven retail, and a few clubs: including this one. Essentially a giant terrace on the river, Wanderlust gives you a different view of the city, over predominantly modern tower blocks. Enjoy the scene while sipping premium cocktails and dancing to nouveau electronic musicians. On Fridays, Wanderlust hosts fashion-themed events.
This swanky café and bar is perched on the roof of the Pompidou Centre. In addition to 360-degree views of the capital, diners also appreciate the sensational interiors by Paris-based architects Jakob + MacFarlane. Beyond the funky indoor space with its pod-rooms and modular furniture, there’s an expansive outdoor terrace. Take the private lift directly to the sixth floor from the piazza and avoid the queues.
This handsome restaurant inside the Palais de Tokyo might be on the ground floor, but the vista it provides over the Seine and the nearby Eiffel Tower is inarguably spectacular. After spending the afternoon or evening (the host arts-space is open from noon until midnight) hit up this address for a special dinner. On the weekend, a DJ provides live entertainment.