The Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower) is a high-rise building overlooking the district of Montparnasse in the 15th arrondissement and borders the 6th and 14th arrondissements. Its panoramic terrace offers one of the most beautiful views over Paris.
Description of Tour Montparnasse
The Tour Montparnasse was inaugurated in 1973 and was France’s tallest skyscraper until 2011 when the Tour First in La Défense was completed.
The tower was designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marien and built from 1969 to 1972 by Campenon Bernard on the site of the former Montparnasse railway station. Its base is an almond shape of 50 m by 32 m.
The presence of the tower in central Paris has been very controversial since its construction and has been criticised for being at odds with Paris’ skyline. Following its inauguration, the municipality ruled it impossible for buildings over seven floors high to be built in the centre of Paris (“intra-muros”).
Today, the Tour Montparnasse has become a true Parisian landmark with over 5,000 people working in the offices located in the tower.
At the foot of the tower there is a vast shopping mall and a busy metro station connected to the Gare Montparnasse where trains head off to the French Atlantic Coast and Spain.
The Tour Montparnasse is one of France’s tallest skyscrapers and, as of June 2013, is ranked the 14th tallest building in the European Union.
In France, the tower is the country’s second tallest building:
- Tour First (La Défense): 231 m (Antenna spire)
- Tour Montparnasse (Paris): 210 m (Roof terrace)
- Tour Total (La Défense): 190 m
In the near future, two planned towers will overtake the height of the Tour Montparnasse:
– the two Hermitage Plaza Towers (La Défense): 323 m (2018)
Fun facts about the Montparnasse Tower
- The tower has a total of 7,200 windows,
- The structure weighs 130,000 tons,
- There are 6 underground levels,
- Its foundations are 70 metres deep.
The Panoramic Terraces
The visit of Tour Montparnasse may seem odd when suggested to tourists but the magnificent view from the top is one of Paris’ most impressive panoramas and attracts 1,2 million visitors each year. Visitors access the 56th floor with one of Europe’s fastest lifts.
The 56th floor, called the “Panoramic Floor”, allows the visitor to admire the breathtaking view protected from the wind and rain. The space is heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer. It is accessible from the bottom floor of the tower by one of the fastest lifts in Europe (38 seconds at speeds reaching 60km per hour). The floor features interactive terminals and quizzes on Paris, a photographic exhibition on Paris, a souvenir shop and a café.
The 59th floor is actually the outdoor roof terrace which, at 210 metre high, offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of Paris. In clear weather, the view extends up to 40 kilometres from the Yvelines to Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly airports and the Eastern suburbs of Val de Marne and Seine-et-Marne.
The 59th floor is only accessible by stairs from the 56th floor.
The terrace has telescopes and interesting orientation tables that help locate the famous monuments and landmarks of Paris.
In 2011, the terrace was entirely renovated with curved panes of glass surrounding the viewing point.
Day Panoramic View
The panoramic view from the roof-top terrace of the Tour Montparnasse stretches over 40 kms. Most of Paris’ famous monuments and landmarks can be seen from there:
The curved Unesco headquarters can also be seen to the left of the École Militaire and the golden dome of the Church at the Invalides.
The view of the Louvre reveals how large the palace is! It extends onwards with the famous Tuileries Garden. Behind, on top of the Montmartre Hill, a sunbeam lights up the white façade of the Sacré-Cœur basilica.
The neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is clearly recognisable thanks to the old bell tower of the church.
To the North-East, the view shows the Luxembourg Garden in the foreground along with the Luxembourg Palace. Behind lies Île de la Cité with Notre Dame de Paris. In the distance can be seen the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall of Paris).
From the top of the tower, the Montparnasse cemetery reveals its great size.
The railway lines that start from the Montparnasse Train Station lead to the French Atlantic Coast (Brittany, Poitou-Charentes, Pays de la Loire, Aquitaine) and Spain.
The view offers amazing sights of street life in Paris (here Boulevard du Montparnasse and Boulevard de Port-Royal)
Night Panoramic View
Visiting the roof-terrace of the Tour Montparnasse at sunset offers one of the most enchanting views over the City of Light. Little by little, the lights are lit, revealing the famous monuments of Paris.
One of the best spots to enjoy the Eiffel Tower glittering is from the top terrace of the Montparnasse Tower, aligned perfectly with the Eiffel Tower, with the skyline of La Défense in the background. The “light show” takes place every hour for ‘5 minutes précieuses’ from night fall until 1.00 am, on the hour.
At Christmas time, the Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde can be seen, in between the two dark areas of the Champs-Élysées and the Tuileries Gardens.
The length of Rue de Rennes winds its way through the 6th arrondissement leading to the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. To the right, the St. Sulpice Church reveals its classical façade.
Check out blogger Mark Wyld’s article on Montparnasse Tower. His post is illustrated with many of his photos taken from the top terrace!
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin and (v) for verbs
- building = immeuble (m)
- to inaugurate = inaugurer (v)
- intra-muros = within the city limits of Paris
- lift = ascenseur (m)
- office building = immeuble de bureau (m)
- orientation table = table d’orientation (f)
- panoramic terrace = terrasse panoramique (f)
- railway station = gare ferroviaire (f)
- shopping mall = centre commercial (m)
- to show = montrer (v)
- skyscraper = gratte-ciel (m)
- stair = escalier (m)
- to stretch = s’étendre (v)
- terrace = terrasse (f)
- tower = tour (f)
- view = vue (f)
- viewing point = point de vue (m)