Confession time. There are stacks of things I’m happy to do in France that I tend to studiously avoid at home. Taking public transportation is one example. And climbing copious amounts of stairs is another.
I’m always amused at how often we end up taking the stairs while we are in France and particularly Paris, although I must admit that our endeavours are never in the name of exercise. We climb all those stairs because we are hungry for the view we hope is awaiting us at the top. You’ll note I chose the word hope there. Sometimes we’ve climbed only to be both disappointed as well as short of breath.
To save you taking the gamble, here’s my list of Parisian stair climbs that will definitely reward you with excellent views (and maybe more shapely legs – at least that’s what I tell myself).
- The climb to the top of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. This climb rewards you on two fronts. First you get an up close view of the fabled gargoyles – this was a real highlight for me. Then you get a very different 360 degree view of Paris, right from its very heart. The entrance for this climb is around the corner from the main Cathédrale doors. Only a limited number of visitors can make the climb at any one time, so I recommend arriving early to avoid potential queues.
- The climb up one of the pillars of the Arc de Triomphe. Disconcerting as the defibrillator is at the top of the climb, it is well worth it for the amazing views of the boulevards and of course, back down the Champs Élysées. You need get under the Arc out in the middle of the roundabout to locate the entrance for this climb.
- Any of the various climbs up to the Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. Some of the staircases are very atmospheric but you won’t go wrong if you choose the main stairs. Great views are a given and the vibe on the steps is excellent any time of day. And if another flight of stairs is beyond you, the nearby funicular is a valid option to enjoy the views, for just the price of a Paris Métro ticket.
Can you suggest any other worthwhile stair climbs in France? If so, I’d love for you to share below.
Until next time – au revoir.