The Eiffel Tower decks and Sacre Coeur Montmartre overlook Paris, but they are so crowded. One has to fight for a picture of the gray rooftops and spires of the Parisian skyline. The rooftop cafe at the Printemps department store in Paris has all the view and none of the crowds, or rather, much less of a crowd.
Enter through the beauty department (not the women's store) and take 8 escalators to the top of the building. Buy a glass of champagne from the cafeteria and enjoy a 360 view of Paris. Because you are not 300 meters above the city, but rather in the view of the city, the steel-colored rooftops are not abstract, they are real.
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winter skyline, on top of the world in Paris
One of my favorite Parisian vistas, from the rooftop-terrace of the historic Printemps ("Spring") Department Store. Other skyline views require payment--the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the bell-tower of Notre-Dame...but from here, the 'roof of spring:' free!
Even under the low leaden sky of winter, Paris is a world unto itself--wrap a scarf around your neck, get your bearings, and explore...
Here, looking south: the tree-lined rue Tronchet leading to the Neo-classical façade of L'Eglise de la Madeleine with the dome of L'Eglise des Invalides behind it, the classic mansard roofs along the Boulevard Haussmann, and of course, the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
(The terrace also has a self-service restaurant: Le "Déli-cieux." Printemps is comprised of three buildings; for the rooftop terrace, go inside the building located on the corner of Rue du Havre and Boulevard Haussmann.)