The Paris skyline is not filled with dizzying skyscrapers trying to outdo each other. It’s a much richer, more varied, and wider skyline due to the six-story height limit of almost 90 percent of the architecture. Terracotta pot chimneys, vast swaths of green from the verdant parks, rooftop gardens, and the unique, architectural masterpieces of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre-Coeur, and the Arc de Triomphe are just a smattering of the sites you will marvel at if you visit at least one of the long list of the best rooftop terraces in Paris. Here, we’ve have gathered a list of our favorites.
1. Georges At The Pompidou Centre
The Pompidou Centre, the major museum of contemporary art in Paris, was launched in 1977. The architecture, controversial to this day, with its exposed pipes and beams resembling an inside-out factory building, has always been part of its lure. The expansive rooftop bar and restaurant, Georges, is a big draw because it’s located 10 floors above the city. The incomparable views include the Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre, and Notre Dame Cathedral.
At Georges, you can opt for either the outdoor terrace in favorable weather or inside dining with floor-to-ceiling windows. The eclectic menu includes French, American, and Asian specialties and an extensive cocktail and drink selection. Dining and drinking come at a price at Georges, with an average meal with wine costing about 60 euros per person. Part of Georges is reserved just for drinks if you don’t want to have lunch or dinner.
2. Peninsula Hotel
The five-star Peninsula Hotel offers two drink and dining options on its rooftop.
Le Rooftop, open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., serves exotic cocktails such as the Paper Plane, made with bourbon, Aperol, and lemon; the Peach Airline with Champagne, Chartreuse, and peach; and non-alcoholic drinks such as the Tropical Destination mixed with coconut cream, pineapple, mint, and sparkling water. The decor is luxury chic, with wicker couches and chairs with plush cushions surrounded by a garden of flowers and plants. There’s a limited food menu with cheeseburgers, a club sandwich, and wok-fried shrimp.
3. L’Oiseau Blanc
The theme of the formal rooftop restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc, which means the white bird, is inspired by two French heroes and pioneers of aviation: pilots Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli, who, in 1927, were the first men to attempt a trans-Atlantic non-stop crossing. The centerpiece of the restaurant’s decor is a faithful replica of the original plane they flew, suspended from the rooftop and facing the Eiffel Tower.
L’Oiseau Blanc is proud to have received a Michelin star in 2020 and offers dinner with an a la carte menu and a five-course tasting menu.
4. Le Terrass
Perched 500 feet above the city in Montmartre, the rooftop cafe, restaurant, and bar Le Terrass has exquisite views facing the south, southeast, and southwest of Paris.
On the plus side, Le Terrass has many food and drink choices at all times of the day, including breakfast, lunch, cocktail hour, and dinner. The prices are more reasonable than many of the other places listed in this article, with a two-course lunch menu including bottled water for around 30 euros per person, the bar menu with cocktails starting at under 20 euros, and small appetizer plates starting at around 5 euros. There’s also an a la carte dinner service.
Le Terrass is also a four-star boutique-style hotel with 92 rooms.
5. Le Zyriab At The Arab World Institute
The Arab World Institute/Institut du Monde Arabe is a contemporary museum and learning center dedicated to promoting the culture and values of 18 various Arab countries. Designed by the top architect in France, Jean Nouvel, its unique design features portholes like windows with shutters. Rising above the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank and the Seine River, the roof, open to the public, has unobstructed views of the rear of Notre Dame Cathedral, Ile Saint Louis, Ile de la Cite, and the Marais district.
Le Zyriab, the rooftop restaurant on the ninth floor, offers authentic Lebanese cuisine. Dishes include hummus with pita bread, baba ghanoush, spinach pie, various flavored kebabs, keftas (meatballs), and, for dessert, a sweet crepe filled with a choice of date, pistachio, and fig ice cream. You can dine on the outdoor terrace or in the elegantly decorated indoor space with floor to ceiling glass panels.
Also on the ninth-floor of the Arab World Institute is Le Moucharabieh, an indoor self-service cafeteria serving Lebanese dishes. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., an average lunch at Le Moucharabieh runs about 12 to 15 euros per person.
6. Hotel Raphael
One of the most elegant rooftop cocktail bars is at the Hotel Raphael. Located in the upscale 16th arrondissement, Hotel Raphael is a throwback to the opulent Paris hotels from the Belle Epoque era of the late 19th century.
The open rooftop bar on the seventh floor, nicknamed the garden in the sky, is open from April to September. The bar exclusively serves Veuve Clicquot Champagne and also offers a customized bento box at lunch. You can make reservations for the lunch service on their website, but if you are coming after 3 p.m. for drinks, no reservation is necessary.
The rooftop restaurant, open for dinner, has two seating times, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Pro Tip: Dinner and lunch reservations can only be made online on their website.
7. La Ciel De Paris And 360 Cafe At Montparnasse Tower
Montparnasse Tower, the only skyscraper in central Paris, and also the tallest building, is mostly unknown to tourists. The observation deck on top of the building has views comparable to the Eiffel Tower, with almost zero crowds.
The 360-degree cafe has the highest panoramic bar in Europe, serving drinks and cocktails with a casual food menu offering sandwiches, salads, pastries, and desserts at reasonable prices.
At La Ciel de Paris, the formal restaurant in Montparnasse Tower, chef Christophe Marchais delivers a sophisticated French-inspired menu. Specialties include foie gras with a soft-boiled egg, free-range chicken with Chinese artichoke, roasted sea bass with a parmesan and olive shortbread, and for dessert a lemon macaron with strawberries and cream.
8. Les Ombres At Quai Branly
One of the more dramatically designed museums in Paris, Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, celebrates the art of Africa, the near East, and Oceania. The museum contains over 370, 000 art pieces and artifacts as early as the Neolithic period, from 10,000 B.C., up until the 20th century.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Eiffel Tower, Les Ombres restaurant at the Quai Branly has views you can almost touch of the tower. The menu, revolving around the four seasons, is executed by chef Rui Martins.
Besides the a la carte menu at Les Ombres, they offer a three-course menu for under 80 euros per person at lunch and dinner, and a tasting menu which includes three-courses, a flute of champagne, and two glasses of wine.
Foie gras with mango and pineapple, a vegetarian casserole with a marmalade of mushrooms, slow-cooked lamb with chickpeas and root vegetables, seared scallops with fennel, and puff pastry filled with chocolate, caramel, and whiskey, are just a few of the highly original dishes on the latest menu. The dazzling presentation makes the food even more appetizing and the modern, airy decor and tables generously spaced between each other make for a sensational experience.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Les Ombres is closed indefinitely as of summer 2020. Updates about the restaurant’s reopening will be posted on its website.
9. Eiffel Tower Le Jules Verne
Dining in the Eiffel Tower will assure you some of the best views in Paris.
Le Jules Verne, the iconic restaurant at the top of the tower recently changed chefs and ownership and was also newly refurbished. Chef Frederic Anton helms the kitchen and Le Jules Verne was recently awarded one Michelin star. The lunch menu at under 140 euros per person for three courses is the most affordable option, but if you are feeling more romantic and extravagant, there are five- and seven-course tasting menus for dinner.
Pro Tip: When reserving a table, request either the Quai Branly or Trocadero room for the best views. There’s a separate elevator for the restaurant.
10. Maison Blanche
On the roof of a regal art deco building on Avenue Montaigne where Marlene Dietrich used to reside, Maison Blanche is one of the most luxurious restaurants and bars on this list.
Chef Fabrice Giraud has worked with some of the top chefs and restaurants in the world including Alain Ducasse in Monaco and the Shangri-La Hotel restaurant in Istanbul, and he brings the flavors from his travels straight to the table. His inspired dishes include white asparagus with watercress cream, veal steak with soft polenta dusted with truffle, and his secret-recipe Maison Blanche cake.
Pro Tip: You need to dress up slightly for the places on this list. Suggested dress for women is either a dress, skirt, or pants (no jeans) and for men, dress pants or khakis (no jeans) and for both, no sneakers or shorts.