Galeries Lafayette Roof Terrace
The iconic Paris department store on the Boulevard Haussman has an observation deck with wonderful daytime and evening views. The terrace is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., and admission is free.
Several Paris department stores offer rooftop views (Printemps and BHV Marais come to mind), but Galeries Lafayette beats its competitors hands down. The roof terrace at its main store on the Boulevard Haussman consists mostly of a large, free observation deck where you won't feel pressured to buy a drink or a snack to enjoy the view.
(In the warmer months, "pop-up" restaurants may intrude, but much of the deck is still available for visitors who simply want to look at the scenery.)
What you'll see:
From the Galeries Lafayette rooftop terrace, you'll see the Ópera Garnier at close range. The streetscape is also interesting, with plenty of Hausmannesque building façades and cupolas to please the eye.
To the north, the Butte of Montmarte and the Basilica of Sacré Coeur loom over the landscape.
As you look off toward the southwest, you'll see the Eiffel Tower.
If you have time and you're in Paris during the months when darkness comes early, we suggest making two visits to the Galeries Lafayette roof terrace: One during the day, and another after sundown.
How to reach the Terrace at Galeries Lafayette:
The observation deck is on the eighth floor of the main store or magasin principal of Galeries Lafayette Paris Hausmann at 40 Boulevard Hausmann in the 9th arrondissement. (See store map and plan your visit for directions and transit information.)
Once you're inside the Galeries Lafayette main store, catch an escalator to the terrace on the top floor. (Note that the terrace is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. most days.
ABOVE: The Ópera Garnier dominates this view from the Galeries Lafayette observation deck. (Don't miss a self-guided tour of the opera house while you're in the neighborhood.)
ABOVE: The basilica church of Sacré Coeur stands atop the Butte of Montmartre to the north. (On the day of our visit, the scenery was oversharpened.)
ABOVE: The Galeries Lafayette terrace is eight floors up, so views of nearby streets and buildings are good without inspiring acrophobia.
ABOVE: If your dog gets bored while you're taking selfies, ask a bystander to give it a hug.
ABOVE: After dark, the same views have a very different look, because lighting draws your eye to certain objects (such as the Eiffel Tower on the right in this photo).
Warning: Most areas of the roof terrace have lights on the deck to prevent missteps and falls at night, but a few spots are poorly illuminated. Be cautious when walking around the terrace in darkness.
ABOVE: The best time to visit in the evening is on the hour, when the Eiffel Tower's strobe lights put on a show for five minutes at the top of the hour after sundown.
ABOVE: Like most Paris monuments, the Basilica of Sacré Coeur is floodlit after dark.
ABOVE: From the rooftop of the main store, other buildings of Galeries Lafayette are clearly visible (thanks to their illuminated logos).
ABOVE: A "Paris je t'aime" sculpture makes a popular photo spot on the roof terrace of Galeries Lafayette Paris Hausmann.
More Galeries Lafayette photos:
ABOVE: On your way up or down the escalator, step into the shopping area and admire La Coupole, a.k.a. The Dome.
ABOVE: At Galeries Lafayette, nobody knows you're a dog.
ABOVE: "The department store that never sleeps" is open every day from mid-morning until mid-evening. (See store hours.)
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