Friday, September 23, 2011

Plus haut

La Tour Montparnasse (the Montparnasse Tower) was, until this year, the tallest building in France. The new tallest building is in the Défense development just outside of Paris. The Tour Montparnasse is still the tallest building inside Paris (210 meters), topped only by the Eiffel Tower (325 meters) which is categorized as a communications tower as opposed to a "building."

La Tour Montparnasse seen from the Luxembourg gardens.

The 59 story tower, built in 1972, has had many critics over the years. Too tall! To ugly! They said the same thing about the Eiffel Tower when it was built. But I've never felt that way about the Tour Montparnasse. I'm one of the few people I know who actually likes the building and where it is in Paris. I think of it as punctuation, like a giant exclamation point.

It also has a terrific observation deck without any of the mob scene you find at the Eiffel Tower.

The building is at the top of the rue de Rennes and marks the location of the Gare Montparnasse, one of Paris's six major train stations. It's the fourth busiest station in the city with over 50 million passengers going through it each year.


  1. Sorry Walt- I disagree. Montparnasse tower might slip under the radar in Chicago, but in Paris it just overpowers everything. Paris is actually lucky that it hasn't suffered the same fate as London in being totally swamped with nondescript high rise development that make it almost unrecognisable from any other modern city. So far Paris has escaped this type of 'progress'. Modernity - yes. Blandness - no.

  2. I'm curious to see what the base of the Montparnasse tower looks like (I've never been to Paris). Your photo is beautiful, but the tower doesn't do anything for me. I wonder how it relates to the streets of the city. Will have to look it up. (But the view from the top must be awesome.)

  3. I'm not a purist, and I don't mind seeing the Tour Montparnasse on the landscape, but I just don't care for looking at it. I went with some group up to the top to get the view, and just wasn't impressed (I'm really not all that interested in high views, anyway).

    Mitch, the setting at the street level is just kind of dirty and dark, if you ask me :) It feels to me like you're entering a back door where the dumpster would be (well, maybe I am thinking of the back entrance :)). I guess the front entrance goes into the train/Metro station area, and that's not too bad, but it's not majestic or anything like that, in my mind, anyway :)

  4. Here's a good blog about it, where it looks pretty good, actually :)))

    Paris by train, Gare Montparnasse

  5. love the view from the top but not a fan of the tower otherwise

  6. It's obnoxiously too big! And believe me, I don't say that often.

  7. Gare Montparnasse is a rather complicated place.

  8. I love it - one clear cold night in December I was the only person on the roof in blinding freezing winds trying to get the perfect photo of Paris at night. When I got back to the hotel almost all of them were blurry. I realised that it wasn't my camera that was moving but the building itself! Still, I got a perfect shot here

  9. john-san, I told you, I'm one of the few. ;)

    mitch, judy's right. The street level is not particularly inviting (except on the plaza side by the train station). The street is a huge intersection of major arteries and it's kind of a jumble.

    judy, I love high places and views, so it's right up my alley! Thanks for the link.

    melinda, I should do a photographic study of it sometime. Which of course would mean a few days in Paris. Hmmmmm...

    mark, lol

    starman, it can be, especially when you're transferring around.

    scott, nice photo!


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