Panoramic View Of Paris From The Panthéon Dome

In the heart of the Latin quarter of Paris stands a magnificent monument that was built in the late 1700s. The Pantheon’s interior is beautiful and worth a lengthy visit; however, many people are not aware that there is an even more impressive sight and that is the panoramic view of Paris from the Pantheon dome. When you buy your ticket, be sure to add on this visit. It’s well worth the supplement.

A. Why Visit The Panthéon In Paris?

Pantheon and dome

1. History, Architecture, And Interior Of The Pantheon

The Panthéon was initially a church commissioned by King Louis XV and dedicated to Saint Genevieve and after the French Revolution, it became a mausoleum that has been honouring and recognizing French national heroes.

The architecture and interior design of the Pantheon in Paris are absolutely beautiful. 8 Corinthian columns welcome you at the entranceway on the portico. Inside, natural light comes through the large windows and you will see mosaics, busts, statues, 17th and 18th-century paintings by French artists such as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, and the tombs in the crypt.

Paris Pantheon rotunda
Paintings inside the Paris Pantheon
Monument to the National Convention-Paris Pantheon
Marie Curie and Pierre Curie Interred at the Paris Pantheon

Since 1791, 91 people have been interred or commemorated in the Pantheon. They include politicians, military officers, scientists, educators, entertainers, and philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, politician Simone Veil, and Josephine Baker.

2. Foucault Pendulum

Original bob for Foucault's pendulum (1851)
Original bob for Foucault’s pendulum at the Arts et Metiers Museum (J. Chung)

In the centre nave and rotunda of the Pantheon is a copy of the Foucault pendulum. In 1851,  Léon Foucault suspended a heavy pendulum from the roof of the Pantheon to demonstrate his theory about the earth’s rotation, that it revolves around its own axis. Soon after, in 1855, it was moved to the Arts et Métiers Museum. Pictured above is the original bob at the Arts et Métiers. It is a brass-coated, lead sphere that weighs 28-kilograms. A copy of the pendulum was installed in the Pantheon in 1995.

I’d suggest exploring the inside of the Pantheon before you head up to the dome. It’s a great way to whet your appetite for the panoramic views of Paris that will be presented to you.

B. Restoration Of The Paris Pantheon And Dome

Now is the time to visit the Pantheon and dome in view that the first part of the restoration is done. In 2011 a 6-year study was completed and it concluded that major repairs were needed on the Pantheon and its dome as much of the building had deteriorated due to age, water damage, erosion, and corrosion of metal. It said that the cost would be over €100 million and work would take place over 10 years.

The first part of the restoration took place between 2012 and 2015 and focussed on the dome, the lantern that sits on top of the dome, and the top parts of the columns which form the colonnade. It was done by the Center des Monuments Nationaux at a cost of € 20 million.

C. Features Of The Dome

Pantheon Dome with the The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve painting

Jacques-German Soufflot was the architect responsible for the Patheon’s design which is a combination of neoclassical, French Gothic, and ancient Roman architecture. It is in the shape of a cross and there are actually three domes at the Pantheon—and they fit within each other.

Positioned at the centre of the cross, you can look above, and through the first dome, you can see the second dome that has been decorated with a fresco by French painter, Antoine-Jean Gros. It is called The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve. The highest dome is the one that you visit and it is visible from the outside.

D. Panorama du Panthéon Tour

Circular walking in the Pantheon dome

1. Book Your Visit To The Pantheon And Dome In Advance

When I visited the Pantheon for the second time last May, I did not book a dome visit in advance. When I arrived, I found out that all tickets to the dome were sold out. If you want to visit the Pantheon and the Dome, buy both tickets in advance. I was able to book a dome visit on a subsequent trip to Paris a few months later.

The supplement to the regular entrance fee (11.5 €) is only 3.5 €. to take the Panorama Tour. Don’t worry that it says the tour is only available in French as there is not a tour per se. There is no guide taking you around and telling you all about the dome.

2. Dome Tour In French? Not Really

You are simply escorted to the top and then left on your own to take in the breathtaking views. I’m really not sure why they say it’s in French. You simply get access to the dome at your chosen time slot. The sign says you are limited to a 45-minute visit; however, there is really no one timing you. You can also stay up there for as long as you want.

E. Panoramic View Of Paris From The Pantheon Dome

Walkway to the Pantheon dome
Stairs to the Pantheon dome

The Pantheon’s dome is 83.0 metres (272 ft) high and to get there, you need to climb the 206 steps (although the sign says 203, who’s counting?). There are no elevators, so if you have some mobility difficulties, you should skip this.

There are two sections to your journey. the first (121 steps) is within the Pantheon’s interior that takes you up to the first terrace that is on the exterior of the building. You’re pretty protected on the walkway but there is a notice that you are “at risk of dizziness”. (I believe this is more in reference to the steep stairway; however, I didn’t get dizzy).

The next stairway starts outside the dome and then you enter the dome and have more stairs to climb. Once you are at the top of the colonnade, the first sight you’ll see will be the colonnade, a sequence of columns or pillars all in alignment. Here where you will get a 360° panoramic view of Paris where you can see the Paris rooftops and many famous monuments and sites.

View of the Eiffel Tower
View of Notre-Dame Cathedral
Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont Paris

The site has done a great job of providing information signs to help you navigate what you are seeing in the distance, such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, and even Cimetière Père-Lachaise. One important site that was very visible was Notre Dame Cathedral. You can see it is still under construction from the fire of 2019.

F. When Is The Best Time To Visit The Pantheon Dome?

Keep in mind that access to the dome is only available from April 1 to October 31 from 10:00-6:30 pm. I booked the first opening, at 10:00, which I feel is the best time for photos of the Eiffel Tower due to where the sun is shining. At that time you’re facing west so the sun is behind you.

G. Witnessing Vandalism On This Historic Monument

The only event that put a damper on the visit was encountering two teenage girls defacing the outside wall of the dome with lipstick. This is pure vandalism and I was absolutely disgusted by their thoughtless actions. I told them to stop and reported them to the guides. I have no idea if they were caught.

Panthéon, Paris

  • Address: Pl. du Panthéon (5 arr.)
  • Open: April 1-Sept. 30 10-6:30 pm and October 1-March 31 10- 6 pm
    • Closed: January 1, May 1, December 25
  • Note: the Panorama tour takes place daily, only between April and October. It is closed from November to March


  • Entrance into the Pantheon: 11.50€
  • Price of Panorama visit: 3.5€ (in addition to the entrance ticket)
  • Free: for those under 18 years of age (with family and outside school group)

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