Hello fellow Francophiles, Paris lovers and admirers of all things romantic! In this article we are going to talk about the most Romantic City in the World. No, sorry, it's not Berlin, nice try though! One of the most common questions I get asked is for my recommendations on places in Paris to shoot. One day I'll take the time to actually GPS geotag my best photos and share them with you but for now this is going to have to do.
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Okay with that being said we shall proceed! Where was I? Oh yes, Paris. Ooo la la. Fashion! Romance! French bread! Strawberry cake! OK! Enough of that! Let's talk about great photo opportunities. I have been taking photos of Paris for almost two decades now and wanted to
share some unique views where you can see Paris from a Parisian’s viewpoint. Little known locations you might miss if you were on a quick tourist visit. This is far from a complete list but it is a good start to get your photographic juices flowing!
The Eiffel Tower (map link)
Having a photo of this iconic landmark is probably the only acceptable proof you have of ever having gone to Paris. If you don't have one, no one will believe that you went there. The most classic shots of the Eiffel tower are taken from the Champs de
Mars, the Eiffel Tower itself and the Place Trocadéro, you will find
thousands of tourists there taking similar shots! So let's do something different shall we?
The frame in the frame of the Eiffel Tower (map link)
On a small side street in the 16th arrondissement there is a beautiful and rarely seen view of the tower. The Eiffel Tower is framed by
very nice Haussmannian buildings, (Haussmann is an amazing architect
that reshaped Paris from 1853 to 1870 and built thousands of buildings).
The Bir-Hakeim Bridge (map link)
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, an architect who funnily enough has the same last name as the Eiffel tower built the Bir-Hakeim Bridge. Oh wait! That's because he built both of them. Snap! Anyways taking photographs near this bridge will give you some amazing compositional opportunities and some unique views.
In one of the funnest photo shoots I have ever done in Paris, I was with my good friend and mentor Scott Kelby and we were right at the bottom of it trying different angles and wondering how we could get an original photo that no one had shot. After a few misfires, I had a lightbulb go off over my head and decided to try and make a panorama of three photos to capture the beauty of the structure. I'm sure if you go there you will be inspired to find unique views of your own to capture it!
The view from the Alexandre III Bridge (map link)
This is my favorite bridge in Paris what with its amazing lights, sculptures and elegant structure. Find unique views and compositions from here to get some great photos:
The three bridges in Paris you must shoot
Paris has many bridges, but for me the nicest and most interesting ones to shoot are:
This is the same one that I mentioned above with its amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. But there are two other great photo views you can get from here.
The first is the composition of the bridge itself with the Grand Palais behind it:
The next is a similar composition but from the other side with with Les Invalides behind:
This one is quite near to the Pont des Arts
and for me it is one of the greatest locations where you can find view after view of the beauty of Paris.
Square du Vert-Galant of the Pont Neuf (map link)
This is another out of the way area and even people who have lived in Paris all their life might not be fully familiar with it. But if you go down close to the Seine as if you were going to get on one of the boat tours, but instead look around for some different views of both the Louvre and the Pont des arts. Here are two shots I got one night with an amazing sunset:
Same view with a different sky:
Photographing the Le Pont Neuf from la Samaritaine, can give you a great compositional opportunity with the the bridge itself as an element leading to the Ile de la Cité and its old buildings.
Here is a similar view in black and white of the same area during gray weather. When
the colors I am seeing and the natural lighting is not all that great, I will usually try and make my photos in black and white for an elegant beauty.
If you go on the Pont des Arts itself and look at the Pont Neuf, you get this amazing view:
Le Louvre (map link)
Yes you've seen it made even more famous by the Da Vinci code. But don't think it's an easy shoot. On most days it is packed with visitors and tourists. But if you go there during the week (except Wednesday), click your knees together three times and say "there's no place like Paris," you can get a shot like this.
Tip: go there right before the city lights go on (sunset) on a clear day and shoot 35 mm and make panoramas, you should get something like
Some high vantage points
There is nothing like seeing the City of Lights from a high vantage point, here are the 4 best places for me.
The roof of the Tour Montparnasse
It cost around 10 Euros to go to the top, but it’s worth it and it’s the only place where tripods are allowed, I recommend shooting from 35 to 150 mm, wider you will have trouble with the windows that have been installed:
The rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe
Get ready for a serious butt workout as there are lots of stairs you need to hike up. So make sure you are in good shape and you don't need to go to the bathroom.
Tip: Tripods are not allowed up there, but if you take a half emptied bag of rice you can use it as a ‘tripod’ by positioning the bag of rice on the edge of the monument (after the barrier) to take a beautiful night shot which is great as the Arc de Triomphe is open late!
View of the Eiffel Tower:
View of La Defense:
Still feeling good after going up all those steps at the Arc? Well head on over to Notre Dame for some more of the same. No tripods are allowed up there and unfortunately due to the tight space, the constant presence of tourists trying to maneuver around can get pretty frustrating. But if you breathe deep, and remember that you are there to get some amazing shots, all will be well.
Tip: you should shoot between 60 to 100 mm to get parts of the city, especially try to get the view of the 7 bridges, (this is the only spot in Paris where you can see the 7 bridges), I call it the Ratatouille photo:
Spin around and there is another great view as well:
The Terrace of l’Institue du Monde Arabe
This is probably the most hidden and tough to get to of all four, but the view of Notre Dame is certainly worth the extra effort.
Tip: Credits go to Scott Kelby. At the opposite side of this view you will see there are very tiny round windows, there you
have the sun that sets and if you go down on your knees you can get this one:
Montmartre is one of the oldest parts of Paris and has countless photographic opportunities. While it is usually jam packed with tourists and Parisians frequenting the many amazing restaurants and cafes, here are some spots that can give you some beautiful photos away from all the hubbub.
A usually empty street with an amazing view and path up towards the Sacré Coeur.
Here is a little corner of this part of Montmartre that looks like it was in Disney's Beauty and the Beast! The good news is that not many tourists are here so it's easy to shoot.
Tip: Shoot it as a pano on a tripod with a 35mm lens. You should be able to get it in 4 photos and as cars are not permitted on this street, you should have a clean view.
Getting good shots of this icon of Paris is usually a problem because the front is almost always full of people. But if you go behind the Sacré Coeur it is usually empty and has some great photo opportunities after sunset.
There are lots of stairs in different parts of Montmartre, but these ones in particular have a great view because they are oriented West which can give you a great photo with a nice sunset.
Some More “Top-Secret” Locations
This spot is hidden near the Place de l’Odéon with an amazing building, hundreds of years old and ready for you to start shooting your own musketeers movie!
My office used to be quite close to hear and I always loved the composition of these stairs. It felt a bit like the countryside in the middle of the city:
The Sénat at the Luxembourg Gardens
In the middle of the most beautiful Paris garden you will find the Senate, a great building, most of the time the sun sets right behind it, but you have to be fast as they close at sunset, tripods are allowed.
It was really hard for me to not cover so many other places, but these are definitely some of my most favorites that I wanted to share with you. You can also see dozens of others in my new book on Paris which is available from Amazon and directly from the publisher: Teneus Publishing http://www.teneues.com/.
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