Welcome to my Paris photography guide. My name’s Stephan and I grew up in Brussels where I lived for 26 years. I studied Physiotherapy and worked in this industry for 4 years before moving to Paris.
At the time I moved to Paris, I was already on Instagram but I wasn’t posting too much. I took a couple of photos here and there with my phone. It wasn’t until I participated in an “Instameet” that I met other photographers and discovered all the possibilities of photography.
Since January of 2017, I have been a self-taught photographer – using books, blogs, social media, YouTube and gaining and sharing knowledge with some of the world’s best photographers.
I am fortunate to live in the city of Paris which is a daily source of inspiration for me. But in general, all the cities and landscapes around the world that I visit inspire me. I try to bring out the beauty of each place I go.
The Seductive Charm of the Parisian Way of Life
Paris is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. The city itself is actually quite small but it’s a collection of monuments, culture, life, architecture, shopping and events. It’s an open air museum!
Visiting Paris is a real eye-opener at all levels. Thanks to its small size, you can explore by walking which is the best way to enjoy the city. Living in Paris gives me the chance to capture its beauty from all angles.
The problem with traveling is that you have limited time but when you live in the city you don’t have that problem. Life in Paris is also fast paced where you simply don’t have time to get bored. It tends to make many people jealous around the world.
The city of Paris moves a lot and Parisians do too. Much more than in other cities in France and in the world. There is a lot to do and a lot to see. Parisians are always up to something.
Locals like to sit at the terrace of a café and drink a glass of wine, beer or coffee with friends. They are especially picky with food and they always seem to be in a hurry!
Paris is a city with a lot of culture. There will always be an exhibition, a museum or a concert to go to. On the other hand, there are a lot of strikes since Paris is the capital of France.
Protests seem to be a daily occurrence because Parisians are passionate about free speech, social justice and support, and human rights.
My Favourite Place in Paris: The Louvre
My favourite place to visit in Paris is the Louvre! As in other cities, the mixture of old architecture (Louvre Palace) and new architecture (the pyramid) is something that I particularly enjoy. I also love the symmetry in the architecture – the Louvre is the perfect example of beautiful symmetry.
As a photographer, the shots, perspectives and reflections are all quite varied. It’s a place that’s great for walking around – whether for photos or just for the walk itself. The surroundings are beautiful with the Quays of Seine, the Royal Palace, the Tuileries Garden and the Palais Garnier.
Top 5 Experiences for First Time Visitors to Paris
If this is your first experience in Paris, you cannot miss the classics. These are really worth it and here are a few tips concerning them:
1. Sunset at the Top of Montparnasse Tower
This is definitely a superb experience. To live this experience in the best way possible, you have to go there at sunset. At the top of these 58 floors, and thanks to its 360 degree rooftop, you have the most beautiful view of Paris.
It’s also the best viewpoint to admire the Eiffel Tower. A piece of advice: book your tickets in advance, go there a little bit before sunset and then watch the Iron Lady light up.
2. Visit the Trocadéro at Sunrise
The Trocadéro is the site of Palais de Chaillot and it’s one of the busiest places in Paris. Going there to watch the sunrise is a special experience!
3. Climb the Arc de Triomphe
Climbing the Arc de Triomphe is a wonderful experience. Once you’re at the top you’ll understand why it was given the name “roundabout of the star”. There is a small fee to pay to climb the 280 stairs up to the top.
4. Admire the Art of the Louvre Museum
Visit the Louvre Museum (closed on Tuesday) and its surroundings. Remember to buy your Louvre Museum tickets in advance to avoid the queue. One simply cannot visit Paris without admiring the art and architecture of the Louvre!
5. Check out the Montmartre Neighbourhood
In my opinion, there are two ways to visit Montmartre. You can either go early in the morning to see the sunrise over the city and to walk through its quaint empty streets (which are normally crowded with tourists).
The other option is to go there at sunset to watch the illumination of the Eiffel Tower and stroll through the streets which have a special atmosphere at dusk.
Paris Photography Guide: Best Photo Spots
For this Paris photography guide, I have two special memories that I would like to share. The first is the famous “Paris Henge”. Two days a year (in May and August), if you are at the bottom of the Champs Elysées you can see the sun set in the axis of the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a magnificent spectacle!
The second memory I have is when I was at the Louvre one evening with a friend. The place was full of tourists when a heavy rain started to fall.
Everyone rushed to take refuge except a couple kissing in the middle of the yard under their umbrella. This scene was magical and seemed to come from a romantic film.
As mentioned above, the Louvre is my favorite place for shootings but here are some other spots that are a little less known.
- Entrance to Parc Monceau with a view of the Arc de Triomphe
- Statue of Liberty at the end of the Alley of Swans
- View of the Sacré-Coeur from the Butte Bergeyre village
- The “little belt” from the 14th arrondissement entrance
- Square Rapp with a view of the Eiffel Tower
- Stairs of the Lamarck – Caulaincourt on the Paris Métro
- The puddles under the Pont de la Tournelle to have Notre-Dame in the reflection
Some bonus buildings and architecture that you should also check out are: Sainte-Chapelle, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Pont Alexandre III, Place Vendôme and the streets around the Haussman buildings.
Enjoy the Flavours of Parisian Gastronomy
For me, there are two gastronomies that stand out at the global level: the French and the Italian. So in France, we take food very seriously. Even if (of course) we can come across as a bit touristy. In addition to French gastronomy, Paris is full of world food. There is something for everyone.
Some great food courts and markets are: Eataly Paris Marais if you’re looking for some delicious Italian food, Ground Control if you want to chill after a long day of exploring the city and La Grande Epicerie de Paris for some gourmet food.
Paris Photography Guide: Tips for your First Visit
You also need to watch out for scammers and pick-pockets, especially on public transport. When people come to you asking to sign papers – refuse because they will ask you for money and the associations don’t exist. Don’t participate in street gambling too – those with balls and glasses.
If you can speak a few words in French that can help. French people are not the most gifted in English. I would recommend taking a few lessons before you arrive so you have the basics covered.
On the Paris Métro make sure you buy 1/3/10 day tickets depending on how long you plan on visiting. This makes catching public transport a lot cheaper and advantageous for you.
Finally, a couple of last things to keep in mind is that during midday meals many restaurants offer cheaper lunch options and Parisians can come across as rude compared with other cultures. But don’t worry they’re not rude – it’s just the Parisian way!
Hope you enjoyed reading this Paris photography guide. Let me know if you plan on visiting and we can go shooting together in the City of Light.