Your Guide to the Best Photography Locations in Paris

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The Best Photo Locations in Paris, France

Paris evokes a feeling of wonder. Avenues exude French character; monuments portray elegance with gothic architecture, not to mention the Parisian rooftops, cafes and gardens.

Photographing Paris is definitely a journey through time and you’ll want to visit famous icons and unique locations to secure the best view possible of this incredible city.

What started out as my top five locations soon developed into more of a guide to the incredible sights and hidden gems you can photograph around the French capital. It’s definitely too hard to narrow this list down any further so be sure to give yourself a few days to explore all that this beautiful city has to offer.

Below you will find a list of the best photography locations in Paris alongside a collection of images I’ve personally taken at each one. First up though is a handy dandy map linking all of these spots together for when you visit next!

A walking map of the most accessible photo locations in Paris…one of the best things you can do in Paris is to simply wander on foot throughout the city. You’ll find your own corners of Parisian gems and while you’ll no doubt end up with sore feet, you’ll have amazing photos as well! For the other locations noted below it’s best to check the metro map for easy access.

Map: Paris Photo Walk

Start your walking tour in Saint-Michel then walk to all of the major sites of Paris, ending at the Luxembourg Gardens. This walk takes over 4hours without photo stops or going into museums etc, so I highly recommend breaking it up into a few days! If you are short on time, jump on the metro to zip between locations easily.

Map: Paris Photography Locations

Now if you’re more into catching the metro or choosing which locations you want to see, here is a map to all of the photography locations listed below in this guide. You should be able to click open this map and add your own locations, or create a customised walking tour. By clicking the ‘add directions’ button on the map it will bring up a Point A + Point B to work out directions for driving or public transport.

Paris Photo Locations:

Basilique du Sacré-Coeur – Panoramic Views + Sunset

Overlooking the entire city, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur offers what is in my opinion, the best view in Paris. Few people realise you can access the top of the dome so at sunset you’ll be sharing with only a handful of visitors who dared to take on the 300 stair climb. The peak of the dome has a narrow walkway that gives you 360degree views, an incredible scene to witness as the sun sets over Paris. Be sure to check closing times before you start the climb as they vary from month to month and sometimes even day to day.

Sacre Coeur Paris Sacre Coeur SunsetSacre Coeur Paris View

The path around the dome with lots of photo windows to see and capture the city from.

The path around the dome with lots of photo windows to see and capture the city from.

Saint-Michel + The Latin Quarter – Street Scenes + Cafes

For quaint cobbled streets lined with cafes and restaurants that ooze charm, this is the place to wander. You’ll find this area just over the river to the south of Notre Dame. Roam along Rue de la Bûcherie and Rue Saint- Séverin for photographs of traditional Crêperies and street scenes.

Saint-Michel Street Scene ParisSaint-Michel Paris StreetSaint-Michel ParisST MICHEL AND ST GERMAIN (5)

Montmartre – Artisans + French Character

Home to resident creatives and street artists, Montemartre is the epitome of French character. At first glance it might seem like a tourist frenzy but if you venture away from the Place du Tertre (artist square) you’ll find a village like atmosphere with a unique ambience unlike anywhere else in Paris. Have a peek at the cute pink restaurant ‘La Maison Rose’ and the draping vines along Abreuvoir Street then head down to the windmill of Moulin de la Galette on the corner of Rue Lepic and Rue Girardon.

Montmartre Street Montmartre Place du Tetre Montmartre Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral – Low light interiors and panoramic city views

One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, Notre Dame is an essential photo stop in Paris. The interior is dimly lit offering shadowed arches, intricate detailing and patterned flooring. If you arrive early enough in the day (before 10am) you’ll avoid lengthy queues to climb to the top of the cathedral…an absolute must for a fabulous view! Climbing the narrow staircase to the top is an experience in itself then once you arrive to the open air walkway circling the tower you’ll be greeted with views along the Seine River all the way to the Eiffel Tower. My favourite angle was looking down upon the Parisian rooftops where the Gargoyles sit, such a unique way to view the city! Be warned however it’s very popular and can feel a little rushed due to groups being ushered through to avoid congestion.

Notre Dame ParisNotre Dame Gargoyles Notre Dame Exterior

Eiffel Tower – Iconic Scenes + Photo Locations

I’m pretty sure that if you’re going to Paris you want at least one shot of the magical Eiffel Tower, right? Well the great news is you’ll see this mighty icon popping up from different vantage points all over the city. The most popular spot is of course right underneath it or from the gardens of the Champ de Mars but if you’re looking for somewhere different here are a few options…

  • Printemps Department Store. Catch the elevator up to the rooftop café and enjoy views over the Parisian roof tops with the Eiffel Tower standing tall behind them.
  • Chaillot Hill and the Trocadéro. You definitely won’t be alone here but the view is hard to beat and you can use the Fontaine de Varsovie (Warsaw Fountain) as a great subject to compose your image against the Eiffel Tower.
  • The banks of the Seine. Stroll along the river banks to take some unique images of the Eiffel Tower framed with trees, as boats pass by or just a varied city scene from the norm.
The Eiffel Tower framed by the Warsaw Fountains.

The Eiffel Tower framed by the Warsaw Fountains.

The Eiffel Tower peeking from behind the Carousel on the banks of the Seine River.

The Eiffel Tower peeking from behind the Carousel on the banks of the Seine River.

The Louvre – History + Architecture

As a central landmark in Paris, the Louvre was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century. Now the most visited museum in the world housing over 30,000 objects from history, you could spend all day here taking photos and that’s just the interior. Outside are the perfectly landscaped spaces, The Carrousel Garden and The Tuileries. When the weather warms up you’ll find people sharing picnics and soaking up the sun in the gardens creating a great atmosphere! The Cour Carrée is another great photo location within the Louvre complex. This square courtyard was completed by King Louis XIV as part of the ‘Old Louvre’ and is perfect for composing linear angles.

The Louvre ParisThe Louvre Paris Hall The Louvre Gardens The Louvre Art

Jardin du Luxembourg – Fountains + Gardens

A green oasis amongst the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg is known for tree lined promenades and chestnut groves. The perfect place to set yourself up for the day to capture lifestyle images and have a picnic at the same time! You’ll also find little sailing boats available for hire to float around in the fountain in front of the Palais du Luxembourg. Fontaine Medicis is nestled in a little corner and is well worth a peek too.

Paris Jardin du Luxembourg Jardin du Luxembourg

Avenue des Champs-Élysées – Evening Slow Motion Shots

Perhaps the most famous street in the world, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is bustling throughout the day with shoppers, tourists and locals visiting the stores and offices that reside here. The best time of day to photograph here would be in the evening once the stores have closed and the streets are a little emptier. You’ll find the beautiful Arc de Triomphe sitting pretty at the top of the street waiting to be photographed as the traffic lights glow below. In the middle of the road are pedestrian islands so you can stop and take slow motion shots without worrying about being hit by a car!

Arc de Triomphe and The Champs Elysees

The Paris Metro – Murals + Architecture

Underneath the streets of Paris you’ll find creative spaces and tunnels to photograph. Of course not every metro station is picturesque but some are little gems of creativity with murals, themed designs and art nouveau entrances. If you feel like training it around the city take a peek at Arts et Métiers, Saint-Michel, Varenne (Rodin Museum), Concorde (designed as a giant word puzzle), Abbesses and Cité stations.

Paris Metro StationParis Metro

Other notable photo locations around Paris…

Marché Mouffetard: A narrow street market described by Hemingway as ‘A Moveable Feast’. Colourful fresh food stalls and a vibrant atmosphere!

Galeries Lafayette: Located on Boulevard Haussmann, this department store is a shopping dream! It’s also for photographers…visit for the impressive theatre-like design in the centre of the store…a dazzling bazaar!

Place de la Concorde: A main thoroughfare for tourist buses and pedestrians, this is a great place to sit on the stone walls and watch the world go by. Located at the end of the The Tuileries Garden not far from the Louvre, it’s a giant public square decorated with fountains. Side note…you’ll also find THE best public toilet in Paris here at the entrance to the garden. I’m not even joking, you’ll thank me later!

Palace of Versailles: A 40minute train journey out of the city will take you to the Palace of Versailles, an extravagant royal chateau. Have a peek inside here.

Hotel de Ville: The town hall of Paris is home to the city’s administration offices however it’s exterior is far less boring. Looking more like a palace, the Hotel de Ville features a gorgeous Gothic roof and in winter it’s the backdrop to a giant ice skating rink…it looks beautiful lit up in the evening too!

Rue Crémieux: A paved pedestrian street of colourful facades in the 12th arrondissement near the Gare de Lyon.

Le Stade Roland Garros: Even if you’re not in town for the French Open in May, Roland Garros is a great day trip for tennis fans like me! You can get lucky and see a tournament or take a tour behind the scenes. Catch the Metro to Porte d’Auteuil and wander the lovely area and parks too!

St Etienne du Mont: An impressive Gothic church with unique details such as stone spiral staircases and giant stained glass window panels…light and airy.

Galeries Vivienne: A hidden little arcade off Rue Des Petits Champs filled with character.

Roland Garros

Roland Garros…tennis fans get yourself here!

Galeries Lafayette Paris

The ceiling of Galeries Lafayette in Paris.

Hotel de Ville in winter

Hotel de Ville in winter

Galeries Vivienne

Galeries Vivienne (image from Google Maps)

Versailles05

Palace of Versailles

Versailles04

The courtyard of Versailles Palace

Best Located Hotels in Paris for Photographers

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Paris, here is a list of hotels I recommend based on their location to the best photography locations…

Hotel des TuileriesQuaint, pretty and luxurious yet reasonably priced. Location wise you’re a block away from The Louvre, very hard to find better! The comfiest beds and towels with giant bath tubs and beautifully appointed rooms, each with it’s own story. I stayed in room #4 which was dedicated to the Countess of Polastron, lady of the palace of Marie Antoinette.

Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel – Want the complete Paris experience? This is your hotel. Located in the heart of the Champs Elysees, walk to the Louvre and Eiffel Tower then return to your luxury room to rest your tired feet.

Hôtel Le Relais Saint-Germain – When visiting Paris I always stay in Saint-Germain. It’s location is close enough to the main attractions but far enough away that you feel like you’re a local, especially when you walk the beautiful streets of this suburb.

Jardins de Montmartre – The quaint and creative streets of Montmartre are a nice place to retreat after a day in Paris! The rooms here are bright and colourful too.

Have you been to Paris? If you’ve got any secret spots in Paris to share let me know in the comments below!

If you’ve got a great photo from your Paris adventures to share use the hashtag #thewanderinglens on Instagram and you could be featured on The Wandering Lens.

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12 Comments

  1. Jenia

    March 20, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Wow – I have seen a lot of photos of Paris, and these are among the most wanderlust inspiring. Thank you for the route, the tips, and most of all the beauty 🙂

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  3. Claudia

    October 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Oh my gosh! Your photographs are simply stunning! I’m so inspired.

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  8. khairi

    August 15, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Hi,

    I will going to Paris next month and planning to shoot the Eiffel Tower from afar. The Basiliquedu ‘3oo stairs up’ like you mentioned seems like a very good vantage point.

    However, I’m a photographer who kinds of afraid of heights 🙂 When you mentioned narrow walkaway, does it mean the stairs are narrow from the beginning to the top or only from the dome area to the top?

    Please advise. Thank you in advance 🙂

    • thewanderinglens

      August 15, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Great to hear from you! Exciting news you’re visiting Paris soon. The Basilica is probably (in my opinion) one of the more fear of height friendly vantage points. It feels super secure at the top and there’s actually a walkway around the dome that has a thick stone/marble? barrier the entire way that’s about chest height so you never feel like you’re about to fall over the edge and always have something strong to hold onto. The staircase up is narrow and enclosed so if you’re a bit claustrophobic this would be the only issue 🙂 From memory there is one section about half way up where the staircase is on the exterior of the basilica but again, it has the stone barrier to hold onto. Have fun!! Tag your photos with #thewanderinglens if you use Instagram so I can have a look 🙂

  9. Robert Peerenboom

    January 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Is there any chance you can share this map via google? This is an excellant resource and would like to add some items to this.

    I have used your map during my vists to my office and would like to build on it.

    • thewanderinglens

      January 25, 2017 at 4:42 am

      Hi Robert, I’m glad the map is of use for your time in Paris! The map should open up in Google when you click ‘view larger’? I’ve just added a second map that simply lists all of the locations noted in the guide, rather than a set walking path. The direct link to the Google map is https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ln1f9rlgO5l93XL-KnTlk7Qx1QM&usp=sharing hopefully you are able to open this up, add your own places and use the directions tab. Access is set to public so hopefully it works 🙂

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