The best panoramas in Paris

The most famous and highest panoramas in Paris are, of course, from the second and third stories of the Eiffel Tower, the low-level views from atop the Arc de Triomphe, and the Seine vistas from a gargoyle's point of view on the towers of Notre-Dame.

The problem with those—aside from the fact that each one costs money (except on the first Sunday of the month)—is that, like most other viewpoints in Paris, the tableau is always marred by the Montparnasse Tower—which is why, ironically, the view from the Tour de Montparnasse is one of the best since, when you're standing atop it, you don't have to look at the thing.

Here are some free viewpoints: the Institut du Monde Arabe, with close-up views of Notre Dame from its buttressed backside and the Seine; and Sacre-Coeur, the meringue of a church piled like clouds atop the hill of Montmartre.