Montparnasse Tower in Paris, its history and description

Montparnasse Tower

The Montparnasse Tower is a 59-story office skyscraper in the center of Paris whose observation deck is considered the best place to view the central districts of the French capital. Although the tower has stood in the city for more than 40 years, it continues to be the only skyscraper within city blocks. Other high-rise towers, and there are more than twenty in Paris, are built in the capital’s suburbs.

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The Montparnasse Tower rises to a height of 210 meters. For a long time it was considered the tallest building in the city until the Tour First skyscraper in the Defence quarter (231 m) was completed in 2010. In addition to its 59 floors above ground, the tower has six underground levels. It towers over several lines of the capital’s metro and has a special design. The foundation of the skyscraper is 70 meters deep and consists of 56 reinforced concrete supports. The Montparnasse Tower has a total area of 120,000 m², while its façade covers an area of 40,000 m².

For lighting the high-rise building has 7,200 windows. Notably, the tower was erected before the trend in high-rise architecture to install windows in all offices, so in Montparnasse only those office spaces located on the perimeter of the building have windows.

The skyscraper weighs 150,000 tons and is served by 25 passenger and 5 freight elevators. The stairs for climbing to the top consist of 1306 steps. The fastest of the elevators has a top speed of 5 m/s, and travels up to the 56th floor in just 38 seconds from the ground floor in 196 meters. The last floors of the high-rise structure can only be reached by stairs. In addition to the year-round observation deck at the top of the Montparnasse Tower, a souvenir store and cafe are open.

It is noteworthy that Parisians themselves are critical of high-rises. When the Eiffel Tower was built in the city, it received a lot of unfavorable reviews. And after the appearance of the Montparnasse tower in Paris, there was a saying that the beautiful view from this skyscraper is only because it itself remains out of sight. Today the attitude to high-rise buildings among Parisians and tourists is not unequivocal. Some believe that they spoil the view of the French capital, while others are convinced that skyscrapers are quite appropriate, as they are the symbols of the new Paris.

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History of the Montparnasse Tower

Before the Montparnasse Tower there was a small train station in this part of Paris. Over time, passenger traffic increased so much that the station was no longer able to cope. A radical change was needed. The city authorities managed to solve the problem by removing it under the ground, and on the vacant site it was decided to build a high-rise building.

Construction of the skyscraper began in 1969. The construction of the skyscraper above the city streets and the extensive subway network was not an easy engineering task and took almost four years.

Observation deck

The observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower has two levels. On the 56th floor there is an enclosed observation deck, and on the 59th floor there is an open observation terrace, which has a glass fence for the safety of tourists. The full all-around view allows a detailed view of all major attractions of the central part of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the roofs of ancient buildings and straight green avenues. In clear weather from the skyscraper can be seen at a distance of 40 km.

On the 56th floor there are interactive touch-screens, with the help of which you can learn a lot of curious information about the monuments of Paris. It is very convenient that the information about the sights is available in several languages, including Russian.

Ticket to the observation deck costs 15 euros and you can use it to visit the bar on the 56th floor of the skyscraper for free. Children under 7 years old can enter the Montparnasse Tower for free, while tickets for older children, students and people with disabilities are sold at reduced rates.

The Montparnasse Tower observation deck is open on schedule. From October to March it is open Sunday to Thursday from 9.30 to 22.30 and on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays from 9.30 to 23.00. From April to September – any day of the week from 9:30 to 23:30.

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If you want to see the city from above, note that the queue at the Montparnasse Tower ticket office is usually small. Stand not more than 15 minutes. While waiting in line for the Eiffel Tower can take 2-3 hours.

What to see near Montparnasse Tower

Not far from the skyscraper, on Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 3, is the famous cemetery of Montparnasse in Paris. It contains the graves of poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire, composer Camille Saint-Saëns, sculptor Osip Zadkine, filmmaker Jacques Demy, actor and singer Serge Gainsbourg as well as writers Julio Cortasar, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. The cemetery grounds are open any day from 8 a.m. on weekdays, from 8:30 on Saturdays and from 9 a.m. on Sundays. Depending on the day of the week the cemetery closes at 17.30 or 18.00.

Near the Montparnasse tower, between the houses, stretches the territory of the garden Atlantic. This interesting place harmoniously combines engineering technology and landscape design. The garden is not visible from below as it is located on a concrete platform, 18 meters high from the streets, right on the roof of the Montparnasse station.

The block around the skyscraper is considered one of the best places for evening walks in Paris. There are many cozy restaurants and eateries. Montparnasse has 60 cinemas and 11 theaters, the most famous of which is Théâtre Montparnasse. And of course, in this part of the French capital there are many museums. Tourists can visit the Museum of the Liberation of Paris, the Montparnasse Museum, the house-museum of Osip Zadkine and the house-museum of Emile Bourdelle.

How to get there

Montparnasse Tower stands in the 15th arrondissement of the French capital, Avenue du Maine, 33.

The skyscraper can be accessed by metro – to the station “Montparnasse – Bienvenue”, through which trains 4, 6, 12 and 13 lines run. If you come to Paris by train, keep in mind that the station “Montparnasse” and the tower is separated only 200 meters. In addition, buses 28, 58, 82, 82, 88, 89, 91, 92, 94, 95 and 96 run to the Montparnasse Tower.

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Montparnasse Tower

The Montparnasse Tower in Paris was the tallest building in Europe when it was completed in 1972 and is now the only skyscraper within the city.

Now the tower is only the 14th highest in Europe. It has 59 floors and is only 210 meters high. It is one of the most controversial structures, which locals dislike as much as the Eiffel Tower once did.

History and construction of the Montparnasse Tower

The name Montparnasse is not accidental, as it is the name of the historic district of Paris. The building with the now popular observation deck was erected for three years – from 1969 to 1972. In general, the beginning of large-scale construction meant only the expansion of the station with the same name, as it could not cope with the large influx of tourists. On the construction of the tower worked four architects.

By the way, it was planned to reconstruct the station back in 1934, but the project by Raoul Dotrey was not approved. Only more than 20 years later, during the reign of Charles de Gaulle (1959-1969) things began to move. The buildings adjacent to the station were demolished and the site became larger. It was possible to build something huge.

Panorama from the roof

The station expansion was only part of the government’s ambitious program to improve the city’s infrastructure. How did the idea for the tower come about? Very simply: to save money, the authorities decided to build a business center above the underground station. It was designed by Dubuisson, de Ohime, Arech and Baudouin.

A short time after the opening of Montparnasse Tower, a law was passed prohibiting the construction of any high-rise buildings in the center of Paris. That’s why today skyscrapers can only be seen in the suburbs of La Défense.

At first, the height of the Montparnasse Tower in Paris was supposed to be 154 meters, but then it was completed. At the time of the erection, a ban on continuing construction was passed, but it was never enforced. The opinion of the majority of Parisians about the tower is negative, because it stands out too much from other constructions and spoils the harmony of the architectural ensemble of the capital with its view.

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In 2008, the site “Virtualtourist” held a survey. As a result the tower took 2nd place in the list of the ugliest buildings in the world.

Each floor of the building is 2,000 square meters, and the mass of the building is 120 thousand tons. At the very top is a helipad, but it is rarely used. At 70 meters, the building goes underground.

Most of the building is office space, but on the upper floors you can go to cafes and souvenir stores. The observation deck is closed, is located on the penultimate floor and has an area of about 800 square meters, but the view from the Montparnasse Tower is incredible. In clear weather the view angle is as much as 360 degrees and 40 kilometers in the distance. The place is glazed, so you can admire Paris in any weather. Thus, the Montparnasse tower offers many people the opportunity to take great photos.

In 1995, the building was climbed by Alan Robert – the famous Spider-Man. He used only his hands and almost fell down.

By the way, you will pay less to enter the observation deck of the building than in the case of the Eiffel Tower. The high-rise is equipped with high-speed elevators that take employees to their desks in seconds. It takes only 38 seconds to get from the first floor to the 56th floor. At the very bottom is a shopping center with a swimming pool and the International Textile Center.

Almost all tourists recommend visiting the restaurant in the Montparnasse Tower in Paris. It is located on the 56th floor and is called Le Ciel de Paris. Here you will be offered dishes of French and European cuisine. We advise you to try lobster soup, various buns, croissants and wine. The average bill is around 60-150 EUR per person. In general, Montparnasse has always been famous for its catering establishments, so do not miss this opportunity and order at least “a complex dinner for tourists” (so written in the menu of the restaurant). By the way, on this floor the Montparnasse Tower “allows” not only to eat delicious food, but also to have a good look at Paris and take great photos.

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In front of the building there is a Lander structure made of steel. Now Parisians are increasingly speaking warm words about the Montparnasse Tower that has become dear to them, as they have already embraced the uniqueness and beauty of this construction.

How to get in and get out

Take lines 4, 6, 12 and 13 of the Paris Metro and thus get to Montparnasse Bienvenüe station. A ticket for one adult will cost 13 EUR, students and young people under 20 years – 9.5 EUR, children under 15 years – 7.5 EUR, disabled people – 6 EUR.

By the way, if you have paid 15 EUR for the entrance to the open-air area on the 59th floor, don’t hesitate to go to one of the bars located on the 56th floor of the tower. Admission is free there.

The observation deck is open to the public from 9:30 to 23:30. On weekends and in winter – until 22:30. Find the building at the following address: 33 Avenue du Maine, Paris 75015 (15th arrondissement of Paris). Also Montparnasse Tower has an official website.

On a side note! If your plans also include the exploration of other attractions in Paris, the ParisPass card is a real wild card. It gives you the opportunity to visit more than 60 sights, to become a member of the two-day bus tour, free use of transport as much as you like, and also provides 120 pages of detailed guide and a map of the city as a gift. You can also go to any museums without queue for an unlimited number of times. The cost of this card ranges from 48 to 74 EUR.

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