Paris is easily one of my favourite cities in the world, and by far one of the most photogenic. Today, as part of my series where I share some of my favourite photography locations from destinations around the world, I want to give you my tips for where to get the best photos in Paris.
Let’s get started.
The Best Photography Locations in Paris
1. The Top Of Montparnasse Tower
It took me a while to figure out the best place to photograph Paris at sunset, but after a lot of trial and error, I came to the conclusion that the top of Montparnasse Tower is the place to go. It isn’t free to get to the top (latest ticket prices here), but it seems perfectly set up for photographers, with holes in the glass to shoot through, and no restrictions on tripod usage.
And what views you get. In my opinion, this is the best location to get photos of the Eiffel Tower, particularly at sunset and through into the blue hour, as the city lights start to come on.
You’ll want both a wide angle lens to get the whole city into your shot, as well as something like a 70-200mm to frame the Eiffel Tower more tightly, and of course a tripod, although I would advise bringing a fairly tall tripod as the partitions in the glass are fairly high, and you want to avoid having to extend your central column as much as I did if possible!
You can also get lovely shots of other parts of the city, including Montmartre.
2. At the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a classic Parisian landmark, well worth taking the time to shoot. My personal favourite location to do so is from the Champs Elysees, on a long exposure.
There’s a pedestrian crossing a short way down the Champs Elsyees from the Arc, where you can set up a tripod on a long exposure, and get a great shot at dusk, dawn, or night, using the moving cars to create light trails.
3. Place du Concorde
The Place du Concorde is home to the 3,000 year old Obelisk of Luxor, brought here from Egypt in 1833. This was no easy feat, given as it weighs around 250 tonnes! The Place du Concorde has also been home to some notable French events, in particular the execution of France’s last King, Louis XVI, during the French Revolution.
I think the Place makes for a fun photography subject, with the Champs Elysees stretching out in one direction, and the Tuileries Gardens in the other. It’s from these gardens that I recommend getting the shot – in particular, taking advantage of the large pond to get a nice reflection shot.
4. Behind Notre Dame
Notre Dame is a beautiful gothic cathedral, well worth a visit. Its stand out feature in my mind are its flying buttresses, which means you need to shoot from behind for the best shots.
To get these, you have two options. The first is from Pont de la Tournelle, a few minutes walk south east of Notre Dame, where you can get some lovely shots with a longer lens.
Alternatively, head underneath the Pont de l’Archeveche, and to the banks of the Seine itself. Here there are some wonderful locations to grab photos of Notre Dame and the River Seine. Ideal shooting times are at dusk and dawn.
5. The Trocadero
There are numerous places to shoot the Eiffel Tower, but other than Montparnasse Tower, my favourite is from the Trocadero. Across the river from the Eiffel Tower, this offers a slightly elevated vantage point, from where you can shoot the Eiffel Tower against the city skyline, and really get a feel for the scale of this construction.
The other advantage of this location is that there are multiple fountains in the Jardins du Trocadero, which line up perfectly with the Eiffel Tower and the road opposite. When they are going off, they can be a lovely bit of foreground for your composition.
One of the most famous locations in Paris to watch the sunset is on the steps and slope in from of the Sacre Coeur on top of Montmatre, a hill slightly to the north of Paris. This whole part of Paris though is excellent to shoot. The hill offers panoramic views, the Sacre Coeur itself is no eyesore, and there are little alleyways galore to explore.
Don’t miss the Place du Tertre either – it’s one of the most famous places in Paris to get a portrait painted, and if you’re after a bit of street photography, this is an excellent place to come.
7. At the Moulin Rouge
I very much enjoyed our visit to the Moulin Rouge, even though you can’t take pictures inside the show. Still, you can take pictures of the outside of the world’s most famous cabaret, which is nearly as good.
The best spot for shots is just across the road from the famous red windmill, and really you should visit at night with a tripod, and shoot some long exposures. You’ll get that lovely light trail effect from the windmill, and if you position yourself right, you might even get some light trails from passing cars.
8. The Louvre
Last, but by no means least, on my guide to my favourite photography locations in Paris, has to be the Louvre museum. Again, worth visiting the actual museum, but for photography purposes, you’ll want to be outside. There are lots of angles and shots to try, but my suggestion to use the glass pyramid as the hinge for your shots.
This sits in excellent contrast to the rest of the museum buildings, which are of a more classic architectural style, and offers leading lines galore to draw your viewers in. Again, dusk and dawn are the best times to shoot, with those lights popping on, but you can in fact get decent shots here throughout the day as it’s such a fascinating looking construction.
Where to Stay in Paris
As you would expect from a major European capital city, Paris has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. We’ve stayed in a variety of places, from hotels to homestays to apartments.
Ideally you want to be fairly central if you can, to minimise your travel time. Our suggestion is to take a look at the listings for Paris on booking.com. They’re our favourite booking engine when we travel, `usually giving us the best choice and the best prices. They also have everything, from apartments and hostels to high end hotels. Here are some options we suggest, depending on your budget.
- Hotel Dress Code & Spa, a highly reviewed centrally located 4 star hotel right a few hundred yards from the opera house
- Hôtel Eiffel Turenne, a well rated 3* hotel within a ten minute walk of the Eiffel Tower
- Ateliers de Montmartre, an apartment in Montmartre with views of the Sacre Coeur
- Vintage Paris Gare du Nord by Hiphophostels, a Hostel just next to Paris Gare du Nord
- The Generator Paris, a well reviewed hostel near Paris Gare de l’Est
- Hotel le Compostelle, a highly rated 3* hotel centrally located near the Louvre Museum
Plum Guide carefully curate their listings so their options tend to be of a very high quality whilst still being available at a range of price points. See their listings for Paris here.
We’ve also used AirBnB all around the world, and they consistently have the most options to choose from. See their listings for Paris here.
If you can’t find what you want from the above choices, or you want some new options to try out, we wrote a whole post on the best alternatives to AirBnB which you should check out!
We also have a page full of travel resources, which includes our tips for getting the best deals on accommodation, which you can find here.
Additional Resources for Paris Photography Locations
There are lots of incredible photo spots in Paris, and I’ve only touched on some of them in this post. I suspect you’d easily be able to fill a weekend of photography with the above, but if you’ve got a bit more time on your hands and want a few more ideas, then here are some excellent resources to help you get the shots you want, plus enjoy the city to it’s fullest.
- Our detailed guides to spending 2 days in Paris, as well as a 3 day Paris Itinerary
- We also have a guide to spending a day in Paris, if you’re on a really tight schedule and just want to focus on the highlights
- We have a guide to the best restaurants in Paris, if you’re looking for something delicious to eat
- We have a detailed guide to how to get around Paris, which should help you plan all your transport in the city.
- We have a detailed guide to attending the famous Moulin Rouge show in Paris
- This eBook offers a comprehensive guide to Photographing Paris
- If you’re in the market for a new camera, check out my definitive guide to the best travel camera, with something for every budget
- My other photography location guides, to get you the best shot in destinations around the world
- If you are in Paris, check out this post to help keep you clear of common Paris scams
- If you are in Paris for a few days and want to get some sight-seeing in, check out the Paris Pass for a great deal on sight-seeing and transport! We’ve also written a full review of the Paris Pass, which is worth checking out.
- If you want a guide book to Paris, we always like to recommend the Rick Steves guides – here’s the Rick Steves Paris edition. We also recommend the Lonely Planet guides, and they have a guidebook on Paris.
- Finally, if you’re looking to learn more about photography, I run an online travel photography course which covers everything I know about photography, plus you get one on one feedback directly from me as you go! Check it out and let me know if you have any questions.
Enjoy photographing Paris, and if you enjoyed this post, don’t miss the rest of my photography locations guides!