What Nobody Told You About Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower, Paris)

The Tour Maine-Montparnasse, best known as Tour Montparnasse or Montparnasse Tower, is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. With 59 floors and 210 m high, the Tower is Paris’ tallest building and the only skyscraper in the city. This stupendous Tower is situated at 33 Ave. du Maine, in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris. The entrance is at Rue de l’Arrivée, while the nearest metro stop is Montparnasse Bienvenue.

The Tour Montparnasse is named after the neighborhood it is located in. In the 17th century, students from the neighboring Latin Quarter liked to meet at the top of a small artificial hill in the south of the city, where sand and rubble were piled up, to recite poems. Ironically, the hill then took the name of Mount Parnassus, a mythical Greek mountain dedicated to the god Apollo and his nine Muses, protectors of the arts and poetry.

The Montparnasse neighborhood was from 1900 and, especially during the interwar period, the heart of Parisian artistic and intellectual life. After Apollinaire, Gauguin, Matisse, and the Douanier Rousseau, many foreign artists, mostly Jews, went into exile in Paris: Modigliani, Zadkine, Soutine, Chagall, and many more. They were attracted by the affordable rents of housing and workshops.

The Montparnasse neighborhood is also home to the Montparnasse Cemetery, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Paris, the Observatoire de Paris, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, and the Carrières des Capucins.

Tour Montparnasse, Paris

Tour Montparnasse Hours and Ticket Price

From 1 October to 31 March, the Tower is open from 9.30 am to 10.30 pm, from Sunday to Thursday, and from 9.30 am to 11.00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays.

From 1 April to 30 September, the Tower is open from 9.30 am to 11.30 pm every day.

Tour Montparnasse tickets cost 15€ (adults), 11€ (students and visitors aged 12 to 17), and 7.50€ (kids aged 4 to 11). It is free to visit for kids under 4 years Click here to book your tickets in advance

Access to Tour Montparnasse is included in The Paris Pass (now Go City Paris). There are also interesting bundles combining some of the top Paris attractions that make you save time and money:

Tour Montparnasse Inside

The Montparnasse Tower has 59 floors above ground and six floors underground. The floors open to visitors are floor #56 and floor #59.

Montparnasse Tower Obervation Deck

Prepare for a dizzying ascent: the Tower’s lightning-fast elevator rises from the ground floor to the 56th floor in just 38 seconds! This lift is one of the fastest lifts in Europe at speeds reaching 60km/h.

Called the Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck, the 56th floor allows visitors to admire breathtaking views of Paris protected from wind and rain. The Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck is equipped with avant-garde interactive and audio-visual facilities to aid in interpreting the views of the city you see below. These include exhibitions, binoculars, interactive facilities, viewpoint tables, quizzes, and more.

You will also find a bar-restaurant, a café and a souvenir shop on this floor.

The Terrace

The Montparnasse Tower tickets also give you access to the 59th floor. This is actually an outdoor roof terrace that, at 210 meters high, offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Paris.

This floor is accessible by stairs from the 56th floor, and it has telescopes and orientation tables to help visitors locate the monuments and famous buildings of Paris.

Interesting and Quirky Facts About the Montparnasse Tower, Paris

Montparnasse Tower

In addition to its location and imposing architecture, here are some interesting Montparnasse Tower facts.

1. Tour Montparnasse’s Main Figures

The Tour Montparnasse weighs 150,000 tons, has an oval shape of 164 x 104 meters, and has six underground levels and 59 floors.

It has 70 m of foundation, 25 lifts working at 6m/second, 40,000m2 of façade, 7,200 windows, and 1306 stairs. The Montparnasse Tower receives 1,2 million visitors per year on roofs #56 and #59, while the rest of the Tower is a prestigious address that welcomes around 5,000 employees daily.

2. It took 11 Years to Approve the Construction of the Montparnasse Tower

From the first drawings to the beginning of the construction, it took eleven years to approve the project!

All began in 1959 when the French rail company, SNCF, decided that the Montparnasse Station needed to be renovated and moved to accommodate the growing influx of passengers. So much to Paris’ dismay, the Gare Montparnasse was moved to its current location, and a 59-story tower was designed on the site of the former station to house Parisian office buildings.

The project was strongly criticized because of the height of the building. A controversy began and led to slowdowns in the project, led by the Minister of Equipment Edgard Pisani, who obtained the support of André Malraux, then Minister of Culture under General de Gaulle.

In 1969, Georges Pompidou, President of the Republic, wanted to provide Paris with modern infrastructure and granted the construction of a real complex with a Shopping Center. The construction of this Paris skyscraper could then begin.

In April 1970, the first stone was laid, and French multinational VINCI built the Tower after the design of architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan, and Louis Hoym de Marien. VINCI is also known for constructing the Centre Pompidou, the Channel Tunnel, and the Stade de France.

It took four years to complete the Tower, and was finally inaugurated in 1973.

3. The Montparnasse Tower Was Strongly Criticized by Parisians

Just like with the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Pyramid, Tour Montparnasse’s design and imposing measures were strongly criticized by Parisians.

While the Eiffel Tower and the Glass Pyramid eventually became the most popular landmarks in the city and Parisians fully embraced the Eiffel Tower as the ultimate symbol of their city, the resentment toward the Tour Montparnasse never went away, and it still isn’t liked by Parisians.

The Parisians were so unhappy that the city of Paris passed a law banning further buildings over seven stories tall in the historical center of Paris to prevent such a fiasco from happening again.

4. The Tour Montparnasse Was Voted the Second Ugliest Building in the World

In 2008,  the travel website named Virtual Tourist, rest in peace, organized a competition amongst its readers to choose the World’s Ugliest Buildings, and the Montparnasse Tower was voted second!

Only the Boston City Hall, a Brutalist building in Boston, was voted uglier, an honor that we are not sure their cities are proud of.

5. The Montparnasse Tower Offers the Best View of Paris

While everybody agrees the Montparnasse Tower offers one of the best views of Paris, we say it simply offers the best! While the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the Sacré-Coeur, provide a great view, you can’t escape the giant Montparnasse Tower in the distance. Ironically, the Montparnasse Tower view is the best because it’s the only vantage point in the city where you don’t see the Tour Montparnasse.

From 210 meters above ground, admire one of the best Eiffel Tower views, Montmartre, the Louvre, the Invalides, and even see beyond Paris.

In clear weather, the view extends up to 40 kilometers from the Yvelines to Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly Airports and the Eastern suburbs of Val de Marne and Seine-et-Marne. From the Observation Deck, one can often see planes taking off and landing at Orly Airport!

6. The Montparnasse Tower Restaurant is the Highest in Europe

On floor 56, visitors will also find the Montparnasse Tower restaurant, Le Ciel de Paris, which is the highest restaurant in Europe!

Le Ciel de Paris welcomes guests every day until 11.30 pm and provides fine dining with 360° vistas of the city and all its monuments.

Because of its unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower, Le Ciel de Paris is one of the most coveted places to see the fireworks on the 14th of July (France’s National Day). Book well in advance!

7. The Tour Montparnasse Was Paris’ Tallest Building in France for Nearly 40 Years!

From its construction in 1973 until 2011, the Tour Montparnasse (210 meters tall) was Paris’ tallest building and also the tallest building in France.

In 2011 however, the massive Tour First was remodeled, adding to its height and surpassing the Montparnasse Tower as the tallest in France. Located in La Défense business district, just outside Paris, the Tour First stands today at 231 meters, just 21 meters taller than Montparnasse Tower. This difference was enough to land it the title of the tallest building in France.

8. The Tour Montparnasse Was Free-Scaled in 2015

In 2015 Alain Robert, also known as “the French Spider-Man,” climbed the Montparnasse Tower without a harness or ropes in less than an hour. During his climb, he wore the Nepalese flag to bring awareness to human rights violations in this country.

As you can imagine, the Paris police were waiting for Mr. Robert on the top of the Tower with a red carpet, and he was arrested as soon as he reached the top.

9. It took 3 Years to Remove a Substance that Causes Cancer from the Tower

In 2005, a study concluded that the Montparnasse Tower contained 20 times the legal limit of asbestos material, a substance considered to be a carcinogen.

This resulted in some companies who rented office space at the Tower leaving it.

Removal of the asbestos started in the year 2009 and ended three years later. Surprisingly, the Tour Montparnasse continued to operate normally during this time.

10. A Place of Numerous Events

During summer in Paris, the Montparnasse Tower hosts a variety of events on the Observation Deck. Some of the events in the Tower are yoga, exercise classes, and live musical performances. There is also an outdoor bar, which offers a lovely chance to relax with your head in the clouds…

11. Home to the Highest Skate Rink in Paris

Believe it or not, but in winter, you can skate at the Tower’s open terrace the highest skating rink in Paris!

For the last four years, a 30m2 ice rink made of synthetic material was installed at the top of the Montparnasse Tower at an altitude of 210m. The event welcome more than 30,000 people each year, both Parisians and tourists from all over the world, who could enjoy the joys of ice skating with unobstructed views of Paris

The highest ice rink in Paris was to return to the top of the Montparnasse Tower for a fifth edition in February-March 2023. However, “reasons beyond its control” prompted the Paris Montparnasse Observatory to cancel the event last minute. Let’s hope the Tower’s skate rink will be back in 2024!

What to Do Near the Montparnasse Tower, Paris?

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Quirky Parisian explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of the City of Light! Read more about me.