- I’ve been living in Paris for two years and I always take visitors to an amazing rooftop for the views.
- Galeries Lafayette is a 19th-century department store with a spectacular view of the city.
- The best part is that it’s free and you can get the best pasta out there too.
I have lived in Paris for over two years and visited many times before my husband grew up in France.
One of the first times he took me to Paris, he showed me where to go for the best, unobstructed view of the city. It’s where I’ve taken all my friends who are visiting for the first time since we moved.
You can see all the major sights, including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Palais Garnier opera house and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica – not to mention the city’s iconic gray slate roofs.
Here’s where to go for fantastic free scenery.
The rooftop is located in the 19th-century Galeries Lafayette department store, home to French designers such as Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
But don’t let the luxury brands fool you. It is absolutely free to go out on the terrace and admire the views.
To get there, get off the metro at the Opera station and walk around the back of the opera house.
Galeries Lafayette consists of two main buildings. Go inside the building on the right called the Couple.
When you enter, go to the center of the lobby and look for the signs for the escalators.
You can take the escalators up to the terrace. But if it’s easy, there is also an elevator.
You can also ask the concierge for help if you get lost.
I found that most of the people working there spoke English, but I would recommend asking politely, “Bonjour, parlez-vous anglaise?” (“Hello, do you speak English”) first.
When you get to the top, you can spend as much time as you like admiring the view of the city.
On the right you will see the Eiffel Tower and the top of the Arc de Triomphe. On the left you can see Notre Dame and Montparnasse Tower.
Directly in front of you is the vast opera complex that inspired The Phantom of the Opera.
If you continue to the back of the terrace, you can catch a glimpse of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the famous rooftops of the artistic Montmartre neighborhood.
Be sure to stop at the third floor on your way to or from the top.
There you can see the building’s iconic glass dome, built in 1912. It is in the Art Nouveau style created by glass master Jacques Grüber.
The dome is designed to let in plenty of light, even on a gray winter day in Paris.
Before you leave Galeries Lafayette, be sure to stop by the second floor for what I think are some of the best macarons in Paris.
Next to the escalators you will see a small stand of pastry chef Pierre Hermen.
It has other stores in the city, but I love visiting this stand with visitors because it’s a great way to end a trip to Galeries Lafayette.
When people ask me what to do in Paris, Galeries Lafayette always makes the list.
It is easily available and free. Plus, even if the weather is gloomy – which is common in winter – you can still get great views of the city.
The Eiffel Tower is not centrally located, it’s expensive, and if the weather is bad, you won’t be able to get to the top. Moreover, you often need to book in advance to secure a ticket.
Instead, save your money and admire the Eiffel Tower and other famous Paris landmarks from the top of Galeries Lafayette.