Paris will always hold a special place in my heart. I first moved there in 2011 for the second half of my year abroad and lived there for 6 months. I moved back a few years later for work and fell in love with the city all over again. Paris has always felt like my second home and it’s where my love of photography really began. When I first arrived in Paris I didn’t know anyone so I spent many weekends exploring the city with just my camera for company. Instead of feeling lonely, I felt a sense of freedom and adventure. I quickly fell in love with the Parisian buildings, the historic landmarks, the culture and the pace of life.
Whenever I go back to Paris, I have this sense of coming home. I love retracing my footsteps, visiting my favourite parts of Paris and walking down familiar streets. Paris is a very photogenic city and there are so many beautiful places to see but here are a few of my favourite photography spots to capture the city’s most beautiful and iconic views.
1. Rue de l’Abreuvoir, Montmartre
Montmartre may be home to the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, the Place du Tertre and Moulin Rouge but if you venture away from these famous landmarks, you’ll find a village steeped in charm that’s quite unlike anywhere else in Paris. With its winding cobbled streets, local shops, lively cafes and street artists, Montmartre is the epitome of French character. Despite being quite touristy in areas, Montmartre is a designated historic area and has managed to retain much of its authenticity and romantic charm. There are so many beautiful, unique streets but my favourite is Rue de l’Abreuvoir. The bottom of the cobbled street offers a picturesque view of Sacré Coeur, framed by lampposts and ivy clad houses. At the top of the road, you’ll find the pink fairy tale café- restaurant, La Maison Rose, which has become an Instagram favourite over the years.
Where: Rue de l’Abreuvoir, 75018, Paris
2. View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe
Although it is far from the tallest building in Paris, the top of the Arc de Triomphe is still one of my favourite photography spots. The Arc is situated at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle (historically known as Place de l’Étoile), a large roundabout where 12 avenues converge, and this central location offers incredible views down the tree-lined avenues out towards la Défense, Place de la Concorde and Montmartre. Looking down from the top deck, you can truly appreciate how impressive and grand these avenues are. The best time to go is just before sunset so you can watch the sun go down just as the city lights up. It’s a popular spot so be prepared to queue and make sure you give yourself enough time to buy your ticket and walk up the 284 steps.
Where: Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles-de-Gaulle, 75008, Paris
3. View from the top of Le Printemps Paris Haussmann
One of Paris’ leading department stores, Le Printemps Paris Haussmann is also home to a beautiful rooftop terrace with panoramic views over Paris. Although the store houses some of the most expensive designer clothes and handbags, it’s free to go up to the terrace on the 9th floor where you’ll find yourself right in the heart of this beautiful city. The restaurant-bar, Perruche, opened in July 2018 and has become one of the most popular rooftop bars in Paris. It’s filled with exotic plants and is a green oasis in the heart of the French capital. It’s a lovely setting to enjoy a glass of wine and take in the view but if you go between 12 – 3pm they may not let you have a table unless you’re ordering lunch. If you only want to stay for a drink then head down to the 8th floor and you’ll find an exit to a smaller terrace through the food hall. Here you can order a drink at any time and enjoy the same view as the 9th floor!
Where: Printemps de l’Homme, 9ème étage, 2 Rue du Havre, Paris
4. Coeur d’Honneur, Palais Royal
Although the palace is not open to the public, you can visit the garden and the beautiful courtyard, Coeur d’Honneur. The courtyard features 280 black and white striped columns which were designed by Daniel Buren and installed in 1986. The columns are a stark contrast to the classically designed French palace and have become popular with photographers. Even though lots of people visit the courtyard to get photos on the columns there are often empty corners where you can get beautiful photos of the columns contrasted against the palace.
Despite the palace’s central location, the garden is still a refuge in the heart of the city. The garden is laid out around a central fountain and lined with trees. It always reminds me of a smaller, quieter version of the Jardins des Tuileries.
Where: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, 8 Rue Montpensier, 75001, Paris
5. Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges is one of the oldest squares in Paris and one of the most beautiful. The symmetrical square is lined with striking two-storey buildings made of red brick with rows of stone, steep slate roofs and dorm windows. The buildings are constructed over arcades which are now filled with coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries and expensive antique shops. The garden is a lovely place to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day and the ideal starting point for a walk around les Marais, one of the most historic and charming neighbourhoods in Paris.
Where: Place des Vosges, 75004, Paris
6. View of Notre Dame from Île Saint-Louis
Île Saint-Louis is one of two natural islands in the Seine River. Whilst visitors tend to head to Île de la Cité to see Notre Dame Cathedral, I’ve always preferred the view from the smaller island which is only a few steps away in the 4th arrondissement. The island feels like a small French village cut off from the rush of the city. You’ll find markets, bakeries, fromageries and cafes overlooking Île de la Cité, filled with people enjoying a coffee or a glass of wine and watching the world go by. Whilst much of Paris has changed over the years, this little island has kept its original charm. To get a beautiful shot of the back of Notre Dame, wander along the bridge, Pont de la Tournelle.
Where: Île Saint-Louis, 75004, Paris
7. Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III is probably Paris’ most elegant and extravagant bridge, decorated with lions, cherubs, nymphs, sea monsters and many other creatures. There are two monumental pillars at both ends of the bridge with golden winged horses mounted on top. It was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and links Les Invalides on the Left Bank with the Champs-Elysées on the Right Bank. It’s a beautiful bridge to photograph from all angles but I like to head down the steps on to the river bank to capture the detail of the bridge without the crowds. Standing on the Champs-Elysées side with the Eiffel Tower in the background also makes for a beautiful photo.
Where: Pont Alexandre III, 75008, Paris
8. Pont des Arts taken from Pont Neuf
Pont Neuf is considered to be the oldest stone bridge in Paris. It connects the western end of Île de la Cité to both the right and left banks. The arched stone bridge is a beautiful sight in itself but it also offers incredible views of Pont des Arts, la Louvre and le Grand Palais.
Where: Pont Neuf, 75001, Paris
9. Musée du Louvre
Although it is often packed with tourists, la Louvre is still one of my favourite photo spots in Paris. The contrast between the old and the new provides plenty of opportunities to take some truly creative shots. If you’re planning to go inside then don’t miss the chance to capture the view looking out over the historic buildings and the modern glass pyramids.
Where: Rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris
10. Promenade Plantée
For a unique aerial vantage point of the city, take a walk along the Promenade Plantée, an idyllic, leafy footpath built on a disused railway line. It was the world’s first elevated park walkaway and it’s said that it inspired the design of New York’s own highline. Stretching from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes, it’s a magical and peaceful walk away from the busyness of the streets below. It offers a different view of the city and a spectacular panorama of the Parisian rooftops. There are steps up to the promenade along the route but the best place to start is at the crossroads at Avenue Ledru-Rollin and Avenue Daumesnil where you’ll find a staircase between the Viaduc des Arts.
Where: 1 Coulée Verte René-Dumont, 75012, Paris
Where are your favourite photography spots in Paris? I’m always looking for new places to explore whenever I go back to Paris so leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to hear from you!
Love from Steph
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