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12 Peculiar Facts About Tour Montparnasse

Paris is filled with historical buildings and amazing monuments. This famous skyscraper certainly doesn’t fit into this marvelous urban landscape.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Tour Montparnasse, an odd building that provides some of the most amazing views over the capital of France!

1. It’s named after the area it is located in

Tour Montparnasse is a skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area in Paris. This area is located in the southern part of the city, a few kilometers to the south-southwest of the historical center of the city, and a similar distance to the southeast of other famous Paris landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides.

The building stands very lonely in an area where no other tall buildings can be found, making it one of the most peculiar landmarks in the city.

facts about tour montparnasse
The lonely tower in Paris / Source

2. The tower was built on top of a metro station

The tower was built on top of the 4th busiest metro station in all of Paris called the “Montparnasse – Bienvenüe” station. This station, originally known as the “Montparnasse station,” opened its doors in the year 1906 and was renamed to include the name of the main engineer of the Paris Métro, Fulgence Bienvenüe.

The Gare Montparnasse, which connects Paris to just about every major city in France and is huge, is located just across the street from the tower as well.

This office tower consists of 58 floors and has a total floor area of 88,400 square meters (952,000 square feet).

Gare montparnasse from the tower
The Montparnasse station / Pline /

3. Construction of the tower started in the late 1960s

The tower is the oldest skyscraper in Paris. Construction started in the year 1969 after the design of architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan, and Louis Hoym de Marien was completed.

The tower was built by French multinational VINCI, which is also known for its construction of the Centre Pompidou, the Channel Tunnel, and the Stade de France.

Art-Facts Youtube Channel

It took 4 years to complete the tower as it was completed in 1973.

Tour Montparnasse in the sun
The tour / King of Hearts /

4. It was the tallest skyscraper in France for over 4 decades

The tower stands 210 meters (690 feet) tall which made it the tallest skyscraper in France upon completion. This wasn’t hard because it really was France’s oldest structure that could be classified as a skyscraper.

Not too many skyscrapers are being built in France because it took over 40 years for a taller skyscraper to emerge called Tour First, located in the “La Défense” business district just a few 100 meters away from La Grande Arche, and which stands at 231 meters (758 feet) tall.

Until today, it remains the tallest skyscraper in France outside of La Défense!

La defense and eiffel tower from tour montparnasse
Eiffel Tower and La Défense from the tower / Source

5. It’s still one of the tallest buildings in the European Union

The trend of building skyscrapers isn’t really popular in Europe, especially in the European Union. The highest skyscraper is the “Commerzbank Tower” located in Frankfurt and only stands a little taller than Tour Montparnasse at 259 meters (850 feet).

At the moment of writing this post (September 2020), Tour Montparnasse is still the 14th-tallest tower in the European Union!

Tour Montparnasse facts

6. Saying that the tower wasn’t welcomed well is putting it euphemistically

We already mentioned that Tour Montparnasse is one of the most peculiar landmarks in the city of Paris, and we aren’t the only ones with this idea. The tower was instantly criticized upon completion and definitely isn’t liked by Parisians.

The main criticism revolves around its simplistic design which is completely out of place in the historic landscape of the city. Some feel it’s a monstrosity that never should have been built.

This resembles the same sentiment as people had about the Eiffel Tower, which eventually became the most popular landmark in the city and Parisians fully embraced the tower as the ultimate symbol of their city.

The main difference between Tour Montparnasse?

This resentment never went away, not even after 4 decades!

Tour montparnasse interesting facts

7. A new law was approved just 2 years later because of the tower

To emphasize the fact that the tower wasn’t liked by just about everybody, a new law was approved just 2 years after its completion to prevent such a fiasco from happening ever again.

The law, which took effect in 1973, was simple. Within the historical center of Paris, buildings taller than 7 stories were completely banned.

8. The tower was voted the second ugliest building in the world in 2008

You would almost start to feel sorry for the lonely tower because of all of the dirt being thrown at it. To make things even worse, it was voted the second-ugliest building in the world back in 2008!

One of the weirdest facts about Tour Montparnasse is that a website named “Virtual Tourist” organized this “competition” and only the Boston City Hall, a Brutalist building in Boston, Massachusetts, was voted uglier according to their readers.

Tour montparnasse lonely view

9. It took 3 years to remove a substance that causes cancer from the tower

In the year 2005, a study concluded that the tower contained a lot of asbestos material, a substance considered to be a carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer.

This resulted in some companies who rented office space at the tower leaving it, after all, in some areas the study showed it was 20 times the legal limit.

Removal of the asbestos started in the year 2009 and ended 3 years later, all the while normal operations at the tower continued, which was a unique event.

10. There’s a popular restaurant on one of the top floors

One of the most famous restaurants in all of Paris is located on one of the top floors of Tour Montparnasse and is fittingly calledle Ciel de Paris,” which literally translates to “The Sky of Paris.”

The restaurant is located on the 56th floor and at a height of over 200 meters (656 feet)!

Tour montparnasse and Les Invalides
The tower and Les Invalides / Андрей Бобровский /

11. Is this why the observation deck provides the most beautiful views of Paris?

The 19th-century French author named Guy de Maupassant was a fervent protester of the Eiffel Tower? Remarkably, he ate at the tower’s restaurant every single day after it was completed, even though he didn’t lose his resentment for the structure.

The reason was simple, he claimed that it was the only restaurant in the city where you couldn’t actually see the tower!

A similar anecdote applies to the observation deck of Tour Montparnasse because many people claim that it’s the most amazing observation deck in the city. After all, you can’t actually see the tower from it!

If you look towards the Historical center with the Louvre and Tuileries garden, it’s fairly easy to understand where this anecdote came from.

View towards historical center of Paris from Tour Montparnasse

12. You can see really far from the observation deck

Regardless of the anecdote, the view from the tower is pretty amazing. You get a 360-degree view of the city of Paris because the observation deck is located right on the roof of the building.

This in combination with its central location allows you to get some astonishing views you can’t get anywhere else, such as that of the Stade de France behind the Montmartre Hill and the Sacré-Coeur.

On a clear day, you can see up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) far in all directions!

Stade de france sacre coeur from tour montparnasse
Amazing view of Stade de France behind Montmartre / Wiki Commons