Tour Saint-Jacques

Unless you’re immensely lucky and immensely rich, you’ll most likely have to make some compromises when looking for a Paris apartment. Most people have their list of essentials, and a list of things they’re willing to sacrifice. For me, I will never again rent a place with a shared toilet down the hall (one flat I inspected on the rue Guy Lussac had a detachable toilet seat hanging on the back of the front door that you would have to carry with you every time. Needless to say, I did not submit a request to rent that particular flat.) I will no longer book places with a tiny pod shower situated in the middle of the kitchen (this becomes very awkward if you have guests who you don’t want to see naked). And never again will I sign on for an apartment where I need to set up my own wifi, for just obtaining a simple modem is like entering the ninth circle of French bureaucratic hell.

Tour Saint-Jacques 1 Paris apartment

However, there are things I’ve learned to compromise on in order to live somewhere decent. I don’t mind if my apartment is the size of a glorified broom closet. I don’t mind if I have to climb six flights of stairs to get inside (and am fortunate that I’m able to do so). I don’t mind if the bed is up a rickety staircase, in a mezzanine you can barely sit up in, or if it’s actually a fold-out sofa. I don’t mind if the street is noisy or there’s no washing machine (actually, those are rather luxurious in Paris).

Paris real estate is a game of compromises. But it’s all worth it if you get a good view.

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My first apartment, in the Dupleix area of the fifteenth arrondissement, looked out over a very underwhelming 1970s apartment building. But when the neighbours had their windows closed, the reflection of the Eiffel Tower would sparkle in them at night. I considered this poor man’s view of the Eiffel Tower to be very exciting and precious.

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When I moved to my fifth-floor tree house on the very dodgy rue Saint-Denis, I missed my sparkling friend. That was, until I realised that if I opened my windows and craned my neck, I had a view (not a reflection, a direct view!) of the Tour Saint-Jacques.

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Constructed in the 1510s and 1520s to mark the city’s first square, the Tour Saint-Jacques is a lovely, elaborate stone tower (formerly a belltower) in the centre of the first arrondissement. Next to the bustling Place du Châtelet, it is situated inside a sweet little park. At lunchtime, I recommend picking up a sandwich camembert from the nearby Boulangerie Julien on the rue Saint Martin, finding a spot on the stone benches built into the base of the tower itself, and enjoying this soaring structure in the sunshine.

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At 54 metres high and with 300 steps, the Tour Saint-Jacques can be climbed, and provides a beautiful view out over the Seine. (Although claustrophobics may wish to skip this one: the staircase is only 85cm wide.) Often overlooked among its vibrant surrounds, the Tour Saint-Jacques should be more famous than it is. Although, perhaps you should take that statement with a grain of salt; after all, it comes from someone who sat at their window and stared at it for years.

Xx La Muséophile

Tour Saint-Jacques

Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques, 75004 (métro: Châtelet)

Museum homepage

Full rate 10 euros, reduced rate 8 euros 

Not wheelchair friendly (stairs)

Opening hours:

By booking or consult website


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