5 Parisian Museums With Fantastic Views

Last Updated on July 10, 2023

Image credit: “Paris” by scottspaeth is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While the primary reason you’ll be beelining to some of the French capital’s best museums is for their collections and exhibitions, some offer spectacular views– panoramic or otherwise. Particularly on a clear day, it can be exhilarating and rewarding to take advantage of the viewing decks, rooftop bars, and other areas affording fantastic perspectives at these 5 Parisian museums. Whether you do so before or after you explore the collections matters little, but be sure to take advantage since they’re all freely accessiible with the price of an entry ticket.

1. The Centre Georges Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou’s upper-level terraces and panoramic restaurant offer some truly stunning views of the city. Image by Andy Hay is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Looming at the very center of Paris on the Right Bank, the Centre Georges Pompidou is both beloved and loathed for its odd conceptual building, designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and featuring a whimsical, “exoskelton”-like facade comprised of differently colored tubes and pipes.

But even detractors have to admit that it’s got a lot going for it. In addition to its permanent modern art collection (with eyewatering numbers of masterpieces from the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Magritte, Mondrian, Warhol, and many others) the Pompidou is endowed with exterior, metal and plexiglass-encased escalators that allow visitors to ascend through futuristic tube structures to viewing platforms on the top floors.

Centre Georges Pompidou by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, Paris

And since the tubes that shuttle you up are transparent, you’ll get some pretty interesting views during the ride, as well.

That’s not all. The temporary exhibition halls, located on the top floor, are housed in rooms with immense windows that let you take in vantages of the city from various perspectives as you contemplate the artworks.

{Related: The Best Modern Art Museums in Paris}

Georges Restaurant at the Centre Pompidou in Paris/Courtesy of same
Even when seated indoors at Georges, the rooftop restaurant at the Pompidou, the views are unforgettable.

Meanwhile, the adjoining panoramic rooftop restaurant and bar, Georges, gives you an opportunity to dine al-fresco while appreciating sweeping vantages over the city (reservations recommended for lunch or dinner).

What You’ll See from the Pompidou:

Parisian museums with fantastic views of the city

Depending on your vantage point (and the weather, of course), you can see a distant Eiffel Tower, the Montmartre hill, Notre-Dame Cathedral and its imposing towers, the Pantheon, and the Montmartre “butte” (summit) crowned by Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

Getting There & More Info

For more information on the Pompidou and its permanent collection, library, architecture, restaurants and other amenities, see our full guide. Do note that you’ll need to have a ticket for either permanent exhibition or a temporary show to access the upper levels and viewing platforms. If you wish to only access Georges restaurant, you do not need a museum ticket; enter from 50 Rue Rambuteau (see map).

2. Institut de Monde Arabe (Institute of the Arab World)

Le Ziryab par Guy Martin, the rooftop restaurant and tearoom at the Institut du Monde Arabe/Courtesy of BUXUS

This little-known cultural and architectural gem in the less-explored side of the Latin Quarter is housed in a stunning building designing by Jean Nouvel, and hosts exhibits, film screenings, lectures and other events dedicated to the diverse cultures and artistic practices of the Arab World.

Opened in 1987, the Institut overlooks the left bank of the Seine river, and boasts a gastromic Lebanese rooftop restaurant on the 9th floor, Le Ziryab par Guy Martin, that affords sweeping panoramic views. I strongly recommend visiting the Institut for a temporary show, followed by a visit to the rooftop restaurant for lunch or tea and Middle-Eastern style pastries.

From your table, and particularly when conditions are clear, the perspectives are inspiring. There are outdoor and indoor areas, but even on a cold or blustery day, you can still take in some fantastic views thanks to the large, curved windows that grace the dining room.

What You’ll See

From the rooftop bar and restaurant at the IMA, you can see sights including Notre-Dame Cathedral. the Île Saint-Louis, the Panthéon, and many other sites along the Seine River.

Getting There & More Info

Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, building by Jean Nouvel/Courtesy of IMA

The Institut du Monde Arabe is located in the Latin Quarter, on the banks of the Seine River and in close reach of Paris 7- Jussieu University.

3. Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo at night with Eiffel Tower illuminations/Visitparisregion.com
Palais de Tokyo at night with Eiffel Tower illuminations/Visitparisregion.com

The Palais de Tokyo is one of the most important contemporary art spaces in Paris, hosting several major exhibitions every year dedicated to modern artists and movements of note. One wing hosts the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, with a free permanent collection that’s also well worth seeing.

But in addition to its modern-art cred, the Palais de Tokyo is also situated in a building whose outdoor terrace area affords some of the best (and incredibly close-up) views of the Eiffel Tower and surrounding areas.

Make sure to bring your camera for memorable shots from the terrace, or grab a coffee or sandwich at the onsite café and sit outside to enjoy the views. The entire building, including the spacious staired terraces, was built in the late 1930s for the Paris International Exhibition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life.

What You’ll See

"Paris, the Eiffel Tower from le Palais de Tokyo" by put_the_needle_on_the_record is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
“Paris, the Eiffel Tower from le Palais de Tokyo” by put_the_needle_on_the_record is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

In addition to jaw-dropping perspectives of the iron “monstrosity” erected in 1889, you’ll also be able to glimpse the gardens of the Trocadero and centuries-old plains of the Champs de Mars in the distance.

If you’re visiting in the fall or winter, the sun will be setting by around 5 or 6 pm– allowing you to see the Eiffel Tower illuminated and from a close vantage point. The effects are, needless to say, dramatic– especially when the tower bursts into a show of intensely scintillating lights at the beginning of each evening hour.

Getting There & More Info

Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Image: Paris Tourist Office
  • Address: 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris (16th arrondissement)
  • Metro: Boissière or Georges V
  • Tel: +33 (0)1 81 97 35 88
  • Visit the official website

4. Musée d’Orsay

musee d'orsay, the most popular modern art museum in paris
Views from inside the Musée d’Orsay and behind the historic rail station clock

With its heart-stopping collection of impressionist and expressionist masterpieces– from the likes of Monet, Manet, Dégas, Van Gogh, Renoir, and countless others– the Musée d’Orsay is an essential destination, particularly for first-time visitors to Paris.

But it also affords some pretty spectacular views, from a variety of different vantage points. Outside, before you join the entrance lines or after see the collections, the raised terraces facing the Seine offer stunning perspectives of the river and its banks, and several key monuments.

Inside, it’s become traditional to peek through the transparent glass of one of the museum’s two antique clocks, each circa 1900 and remnants of the fact that the museum was once a train station. You can get some very interesting views (and shots) through the glass panes.

What You’ll See

From various points inside and outside the museum, you can see the banks of the Seine River, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and Tuileries Gardens, and, high on a hill in the distance, the Sacré Coeur looming over the heights of Montmartre. You can also see some of the city’s most ornate and beautiful bridges, including the Pont-Royal, leading to the Louvre and Tuileries.

Getting There & More Information

"Musée d'Orsay, Paris" by Pierre Blaché is marked with CC0 1.0
“Musée d’Orsay, Paris” by Pierre Blaché is marked with CC0 1.0
  • Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris (7th arrondissement)
  • RER/Commuter-Line Train: Gare Musée d’Orsay (Or the Solferino stop on the Paris Metro)
  • Tel: +33 (0)1 40 49 48 14
  • Visit the official website

5. Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

Heading further west along the Seine River from the Musée d’Orsay, you’ll reach the Musée du Quai Branly, a recent addition to the Parisian skyline and home to a fascinating collection of art, objects of daily life, and other artefacts from Asia, Africa, and Oceania.

The museum, housed in a conceptual building designed by Architectes Jean Nouvel and constructed with glass alongside warm, multicolored steel and wood components, is surrounded by lush greenery and gardens; there’s even a striking “green wall” teeming with plants on one side.

It also happens to boast a panoramic terrace that offers some pretty unbeatable views of the river and many familiar Parisian attractions. It’s open to the public during the warmer months (spring and summer) with the price of an entry ticket. You can also book a table to the gastronomic restaurant on the rooftop level, Les Ombres.

What You’ll See

Views from Les Ombres restaurant at the Musée du Quai Branly/Discover Paris Blog

From the panoramic terrace, take in dramatic (and remarkably close-up) perspectives of the Eiffel Tower, the banks of the Seine, the Grand Palais, Montmartre and other familiar landmarks. The views from Les Ombres restaurant at rooftop level are also breathtaking.

You can also view the Eiffel Tower from the interior gardens of the museum, where a more casual cafe-restaurant is an ideal place for a break.

Getting There & More Information

  • Address: 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris (7th arrondissement)
  • RER/Commuter-Line Train: Quai de l’Alma (Line C)
  • Tel: +33 (0)1 56 61 70 00
  • Visit the official website

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museums with beautiful views in Paris

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