Top of the Arc

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Montmartre on the hill, from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Shadow of the Arc

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Cotton candy clouds

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe

The night before Jamal arrived, I decided it was too beautiful a night to stay inside, but, having already eaten, I was sort of at a loss for what to do. I know that sounds crazy, given that I’m in Paris and therefore have a million different options when it comes to how to fill my time, chief amongst them is just walking around. I usually walk down to the Pont du Carrousel, between the Louvre and Saint-Germain, or up to Sacré Cœur and around Montmartre in the evenings if my legs are feeling twitchy for a good amble. But on this night, I realized the spectacular sunset we were no doubt in store for would be best seen from the Arc. For €9,50 and two hundred and eighty four winding stairs, you get to experience the breathtaking view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

You might be wondering, “Why didn’t you wait until Jamal got there so he could experience it too, you heartless wench?” Well, fun fact about Jamal: he is terrified of heights! A story: when we came to Paris in 2012, we drunkenly decided to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower after dinner one night, not taking into account my fear of elevators and his fear of heights. It could not have been more ridiculous. “Get me off this elevator, get me off this elevator, open the doors, open the doors, ohmygodokay I’M OUT SWEET FREEDOM.” “I want to get back on the elevator, I want to get back on the elevator, ohmygod DON’T GO NEAR THE ERIN WHAT ARE YOU DOING.” So I thought, in the interest of not traumatizing my dear sweet fiancé, this was an adventure I could best take on solo. So I went, and I got to the top after 9pm (9pm!! That is how bright it was!) and stayed there, gawking from all sides, for close to two hours. It is surprisingly chilly up there, and while there were of course a bunch of tourists, there were a lot less than I expected, and only once or twice did I have to awkwardly duck as someone was selfie-ing with one of those retractable monopods kids these days use to get A Premium Selfie Angle. I left at around 10:45 and took the bus back home, and I regretted not staying until 11 to watch La Tour sparkle (I made up for that on the summer solstice, though).

27 thoughts on “Top of the Arc

  1. So worth it! And you guys must have been hilarious at the Eiffel Tower – I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Enjoy the weekend

    1. I’m pretty sure we entertained at least one group of tourists with our neuroses :) xoxo

  2. have read that this is a fantastic view. but i’d never make the stairs. lol.

    we didn’t get to the top of la tour eiffel, either. no elevator, because of a strike. and we could only climb a wee bit.

    again, thank you for sharing all these marvelous photos!!!


    1. The stairs are killer! There are no windows on the way up so you feel like you’re climbing forever, haha. I read that when the Eiffel Tower first opened at the Universal Exhibition, the elevators didn’t work for nearly a month or two, and visitors had to climb the stairs. You can still take the stairs today (all the way to the top I think!) but I wouldn’t make it, haha. xo

  3. I haven´t been up there since in the nineteen seventies, but after having seen your photos I Think I´ll pay The Arch a new visit next time. (Like you, my favorite occupation in Paris is nowdays just walking and walking around…)
    Wonderful photos!

    1. I wonder how the cityscape has changed since then! It would be neat to compare the views from different decades. Wandering around any city, but Paris especially, is really the best way to see and experience it! xo

  4. Still laughing from your trip up the Eiffel Tower. To someone who has not looked up from the bottom in terror, it seems like a great idea….from 7 hours away, across the ocean. It may be one of the few promises I made to you in your teens that I had to revoke. Just looking up was scarier than actually going all the way up in the John Hancock Building. I’m sure my fingernail makes are still embedded into the wall right next to the elevators.
    Your photos are amazing, as always. I just sent you an email for a photo canvas sale and I’ll take the bottom photo thank you very much!!!! I can’t even……..

    1. I still haven’t gone all the way up! You can take the stairs (“you” as the general, not specifically you, because I think you’d die if you even thought about it), so maybe I’ll do that next time. My legs might turn to jelly, but it would be cool to say I did it!
      Are you SURE you want the bottom one? We can discuss later and I’ll show you all of the photos I have and you can pick :) xo

  5. that is crazy that those were taken after 9pm. the top few look like they were in the middle of the day. i am also one that is not particularly fond of elevators. i went in one the other day that was “clunking” really really loudly. i got off as fast as possible and took the stairs. it was also about the size of broom closet, the imagine that passed through my mind of being stuck in that thing (or worse the line snapping and me plunging into the basement) was not pretty.

    1. I know, right? That is why it was impossible to get anything done! The liiiiight there was all day, all the time, and just beautiful. I’m glad I’m not alone in my elevator issues. If there is even the slightest delay between arriving at a floor and the doors opening (why do they open so slowly??!) I panic. I only have to take them when I go to doctor’s appointments in the city in high rise buildings. Everywhere else I can take the stairs! xo

  6. Hahaha I WAS totally wondering why you didn’t wait for Jamal, but now I see it was a smart decision :-) These photos are breathtaking!

    1. Haha, yes, I only had his best interests at heart when I made that decision! xo

  7. The photos are amazing! I would have assumed they were taken in mid-afternoon. Also, the building with the interior open courtyard and greenery, I must visit there. Even if it is an office building and according to Google Maps it is. Although, there is not shortage of interior courtyards in Paris.

    1. I love the interior courtyards and that almost every building, even boring office buildings!, have them. They were installed for ventilation and air quality when the Haussmann buildings were built, since previously residents of Paris were living in tight, unventilated conditions (also without plumbing and sewer lines and such). Pretty important! xo

    1. I’m home now, unfortunately ;) At the time of your comment, I was still swooning around the city, trying to soak up every last second! xo

  8. A friend of ours told us that the view from the Arc was the best in Paris, and we tried on our last day, but the line was so long… too long to spend your last day in Paris (with a still-sick kid) standing in. So many things for my next-time list. But since I’m like JAMAL, maybe someone else should go. ;)

    1. Oh really? I guess I got lucky then, because there was no line at all when I showed up! And the view really is worth it, especially at sunset. Next time! :) You could do what my mom always did, and sit on a bench while my dad and I rode rollercoasters and went on things that required leaving the ground in any capacity! xo

  9. Ha! Poor Jamal, I know exactly how he feels. I successfully swerved a visit up the Eiffel when I last went to Paris. You know, I think I would have done it if it weren’t for the endless queueing to get to the top. The long wait is more than enough to build fear and get the adrenaline working overtime. With Paris views and potential photograph opportunities like yours (love 4 and 6), I know I shall have to stop being such a wuss next time x

    1. Haha, more people than not are afraid of heights, I think! The queues really are ridiculous, though, and all those crowds of people probably add to the feeling of anxiety. Poor thing! The Arc isn’t nearly as long a wait as the Eiffel Tower, and I like it more because you can see the tower from the top of the Arc. And that’s the best part of the Parisian landscape :) xo

  10. Je crois que maintenant tu a deux livres à écrire. Finir ton roman et écrire une guide de Paris ! Je crois que tu connais très bien maintenant et tes adresses seront mieux que l’éternel guide de routard!
    Je suis sûre que Ladurée pourra t’aider à sortir ton guide en échange d’un peu de publicité!
    Les photos sont magnifiques. Nous on a pas peur de l’ascenseur ni de l’hauteur, donc ça sera avec plaisir con monterai un jour ! xo

    1. Ah, une guide de Paris! Il y en a beaucoup sur l’internet, je sais, mais tout le monde ont différents endroits préférés. Si Ladurée me donne les macarons, je ferais n’importe quoi! Haha ;) Merci beaucoup, Eva! xo

  11. How sweet of you to spare Jamal. I can’t believe how bright it was at that time of day. AND what is that building in the last image, near right, that seems to be covered in foliage from the top down??

    1. The light in Paris seriously never got old. 9pm and that’s what it looked like! Good eye on that building, it does indeed appear to be covered in vines! Now I’m reciting the opening of Madeline… :) xo

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