Paris From Above: Views from the Tour Saint-Jacques
I had walked by it so many times: the tall, lonesome tower that looked like it once belonged to a church, but now stood by itself in a small park in the middle of Paris. The Tour Saint-Jacques, situated along the Rue de Rivoli, draws far fewer visitors than the neighboring Notre Dame a short walk away, but deserves consideration for your Paris bucket list.
The tower is the last remaining piece of a 16th-century church that was partially destroyed during the French Revolution. It took over 10 years to built the structure and it towers over all the surrounding Parisian buildings nearby. Recently I learned that it’s possible to enter the tower and see a stunning 360-degree of Paris but you must climb 300 steps first!
You can go up the tower every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the top of the hour between 10 am and 5pm. The only way to buy tickets is online through Des Mots et Des Arts or by going in person the day you wish to climb. The company operates a small navy blue pavilion on the east side of the park where they sell tickets. Bring cash in case their card machine is broken like it was when I went! Tickets are 10 euros per adult, with a reduced student rate of 8 euros.
I visited the tower on a September Saturday around 11:30am and at least 1 ticket from each of the day’s hours were still available, so I opted to go up at 1pm. Only 18 people are allowed up at a time, so you’ll probably be with a small group of people.
The Way Up
Waiting in the park for the tour to start:
This is where you buy tickets to go up the tower:
A tiny winding stairwell is the only way up!
The view looking up from our second stop along the way up:
Views from the Tour Saint-Jacques
Here are some shots of the Eiffel Tower which you can see very clearly in the Parisian sun!
This is the view looking north where you can see the Sacré Coeur sitting beautifully in the Montmartre sunlight!
Southern views offer a pristine look at the Left Bank of Paris – from the Notre Dame to the Panthéon!
To the east you can spot the Hotel de Ville and the Centre Pompidou (which looks so out of place compared to other monuments!)
Is it worth it to go up?
So what did I think of the tour? Well I was really disappointed to be honest. While the view from the Tour Saint-Jacques is phenomenal, you are only allowed at the top of the tower for 15 minutes! The majority of the tour is spent at bottom of the tower, and at two stopping levels along the way up.
The tour lasts one hour. If I had to estimate: you spend about 10 minutes on the ground floor of the tower near the statue, another 10 minutes on the “first floor” stop and then another 15 minutes on the “second floor” stop and then your final stop (the roof) you are only allowed around 15 minutes, because they want you to have enough time to get back down in a relaxed manner.
The tour guide explained it’s easier to have two stops on the way up so people can catch their breath, which I understand, and it is quite dizzying to go up and down a tiny spiral staircase, but they really should give us more time at the top of the roof!
What I love about the view from the Saint Jacques Tower is how you are basically in the center of Paris and can see all the major monuments around you. It’s almost better to go up this tower and get a view of the stunning Notre Dame, as opposed to going up the Notre Dame where you cannot see the cathedral itself!
Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques
75004 Paris, France