43

I am traveling to Canada via Paris (CDG) from Mumbai in December. Which side of the plane to be seated on to get a view of the Eiffel Tower from up high?

Also, on my connecting flight from Paris (CDG) to Canada, which side of the plane should I be seated on to get a glimpse of the beautiful Eiffel tower?

  • 25
    You might get better answers on aviation.stackexchange.com. Those guys know how to read approach plates and METARs. – AndreKR Aug 23 '18 at 8:30
  • 4
    You are more likely to spot ground targets on landing rather than take-off as you will likely be closer to the ground. Departing aircraft tend to climb relatively quickly whilst those landing descend much more gradually. – davidjwest Aug 23 '18 at 10:34
  • 1
    @davidjwest landing & departure from CDG. – Ashish Bahl Aug 23 '18 at 11:23
  • 5
    @davidjwest correct, but only if the CDG holding pattern dictates the aircraft to approach from the West fly over the city and then loop back towards CDG for an Eastern approach. Most flights from the East to Paris don't have to join the holding pattern and simply land directly from the East, which would mean seeing the tower is not possible no matter where the sit. – crayarikar Aug 23 '18 at 12:18
  • 1
    @crayarikar I concur. – davidjwest Aug 23 '18 at 12:29
54

The three major airports of Paris with commercial flights are Paris Charles de Gaulle-Roissy (CDG), Paris Orly (ORY), and Paris Beauvais (BVA). Since longhaul flights to Canada only originate from CDG and ORY, in this answer we'll only consider these two airports.

Short answer is no, there is no one side of the plane that you can sit on that will guarantee you a view of the Eiffel Tower. This is because local wind conditions can change the direction in which your aircraft departs and what heading it chooses while climbing.


Departure from ORY

Most departures will take place from runways 06/24 or 08/26. These runways are in the NE-SW direction. To be able to see the Eiffel Tower while departing from ORY, you would have to have your plane take of in the SW direction and then head northwards while climbing. In this scenario, you would have to sit on the right side of the plane to get a chance to see the tower. Taking off in the NE direction would mean that your plane would have to do an almost 180-degree turn to fly over Paris, by which point you will too high up to see the tower.


Departure from CDG

The four runways of CDG are roughly in the E-W direction. To be able to see the Eiffel Tower, your plane would have to take off towards the West and head straight or slightly towards the south. In this case, you would have to sit on the left of the plane to see the tower. If, however, your plane departs towards the East, your chances to see the tower are significantly lower since the airport is quite far from the city center.


Tips and Info

  • Check websites like flightradar24.com to see what direction planes are taking off on that particular day. This will allow you to have a better idea before selecting seats at check-in.
  • A quick look at a 24 hour period of departures on FlightRadar24 shows that most flights from CDG do depart to the West and most flights from ORY do depart to the South-West, which means that there is a chance that you may be able to see the Eiffel Tower if you sit on the right for ORY departures and left for CDG departures.
  • Your chances of seeing (and actually being able to spot) the tower might actually increase if you have a night time departure from Paris, since the tower is lit up till about past midnight local time and is quite hard to miss.
  • Could you cover landing as well? I'm 90% sure that you'd want to sit the opposite side to what you suggest for departure... – AndyT Aug 23 '18 at 10:18
  • 5
    @AndyT this will be a bit more complex since a lot of this depends on where the flight originates from (East or West of Paris) as well how the holding pattern is configured. – crayarikar Aug 23 '18 at 10:43
  • @AndyT: On the contrary, the only chance of seeing the Eiffel Tower on either arrival to CDG (from India) or departure from CDG (towards Canada) is if the takeoff/landing is west-to-east and the U-turns before landing / after takeoff are to the south of the airport. In both cases the aircraft would fly east-to-west some distance north of the tower, and you would need to sit on the left. (These routings on departure seem to be somewhat rare; they are more common for arrival). – Henning Makholm Aug 23 '18 at 12:38
  • 1
    (+1) Lots of useful info but your conclusion seems a bit misleading. Seeing the Eiffel Tower is never guaranteed but if I follow your reasoning you are in fact able to recommend one side to seat on for each airport so very little uncertainty regarding the decision. – Relaxed Aug 23 '18 at 19:44
  • 1
    @crayarikar "as well how the holding pattern is configured" I think you meant approach and/or traffic pattern (depending on how technically accurate you want to be) rather than hold. The typical holding pattern is either circular or rectangular, and flown some distance from the airport; it's used if for some reason an airplane needs to be deliberately delayed (traffic congestion, weather concerns, problems with the airplane that the pilots need time to diagnose, ...). The approach/traffic pattern is how the airplane actually comes in toward the airport in immediate preparation for landing. – a CVn Aug 24 '18 at 22:30
15

When the wind is from the west, the runways at CDG operate in the east-to-west direction. This is the most common direction.

On arrival there will be no chance to see the Eiffel Tower. Arriving flights are generally routed directly towards the runway, and as you're arriving from the east the flight path will not go anywhere near the tower.

When departing towards the west, you might be able to see the Eiffel Tower in the distance to the left of the aircraft, a few minutes after takeoff. Your closest approach to it will be about 16 km, at a time when you will be 1 to 1.5 km from the ground. That's high enough that you shouldn't look too close to the horizon, but far enough away that you can easily miss it unless you have prepared in advance, memorizing an (upside-down) map of Paris so you know where to look.

And many departing flights towards the northwest will start banking towards the right before they reach that point, in which case you have no chance there either.


When the wind is from the east, the runways operate west-to-east.

In this situation there's a pretty good chance (say about 50%) that your arriving flight will pass to the south of the airport before making an U-turn to align with the runway. This path will take it quite close to central Paris, so you should be able to get a pretty nice view of the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks in the center if you sit on the left side of the plane.

On the other hand, there's also a chance that the flight path will take you north of the airport instead, in which case you're out of luck again.

When departing towards the east, the chance of getting to see the tower is extremely slight. All the Flightradar tracks in this situation I can find turn away from Paris shortly after takeoff.


Beware that sitting on the left would also probably mean that you will have the sun shining through your window for much of the flight (depending on the time of day).

8

I regularly fly to CDG. During landing/takeoff, I'm usually on the lookout, and I try to spot landmarks.

The airport is far from the city, and the eiffel tower appear very small in the distance. It also really helps to be familiar with the topography to spot it (the tower is barely recognizable).

  • This is the best answer, unfortunately. Both airports are FAR from the city, and flight paths are intentionally kept away from the built up area. Commercial air transport are never visible from the Paris city center. So likewise, it would not be likely for you to see central Paris from the airplane. – Douglas Held Aug 24 '18 at 21:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.