Photography in Paris

All the essential information, advice and resources assembled in one place to help you have exceptional photography experiences in Paris.

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Top Spots for Great Photos in Paris

You can capture great imagery in almost any neighbourhood of beautiful Paris. Here are our favourite locations to get images of iconic sites or just everyday life.

Photo of the Marais, Paris

The Vibrant Life of the Marais

A great area to photograph vibrant street life, small gardens and typical 17th century homes. Let serendipity guide you through the maze of streets. Of course, there is the well-known place des Vosges with its traditional brick facades, but the small streets all around and the Jewish quarter are perfect for varied photo opportunities.

Getting there: Metro stations Hotel de Ville, Saint Paul or Bastille (line 1), or Rambuteau (line 11)
Photo of Montmarte, Paris

The Village Atmosphere of Montmartre

You will find narrow cobbled streets, romantic stairs and a surprising village atmosphere. The area around Sacré Coeur basilica can be overcrowded, so plan to be there well before 10:00 am. Capture the artists on the main square, try to get lost in the small streets beyond the busy area, and walk up and down the hill to discover the carefree atmosphere of the old days.

Getting there: Metro stations Anvers (line 2) or Abbesses (line 12)
Photo of the covered passages

Time Travel in the Covered Passages

Each covered passage has a different atmosphere, providing a glimpse of Paris in the 1850’s, where it was fashionable to stroll and be seen in good company. While many of the passages have disappeared, those that remain are much more quiet and away from the crowds, making them a good place for interesting photography. They are also perfect to explore on a rainy day since the glass roofs provide shelter while still allowing natural light through.

Some favourites: Galerie Vivienne, Vero-Dodat, Passage Jouffroy, Verdeau
Photo of Street Scene in La Mouzaia

The Verdant Community of La Mouzaia

This area is perfect to photograph small bucolic streets, away from the crowds for a couple hours. Tucked on the East side of Paris, the neighbourhood is a bit of countryside with a succession of paved alleys, strings of houses and front yards bursting with rose bushes and other greenery. Photography in this area is best in Spring, Summer and early Fall when the vegetation is abundant. Explore around villas d’Alsace, Eugène Leblanc, Lilas, Lorraine and then follow your mood.

Getting there: Metro station Botzaris (line 7b)
Photo of La Defense, Paris

The Modern Architecture of La Defense

Situated on the west end of Paris, there is plenty of modern architecture in this business district. The area around the Grande Arche bursts with life when office workers rush to work in the morning or run to catch their metro back home at the end of the day. The whole area is reserved for pedestrians, making it easy and comfortable to explore while photographing the strong lines and shapes of the sleek architecture.

Getting there: Metro stations Esplanade de la Defense or La Défense Grande Arche (line 1)
Along the River Seine, Paris

Along the Seine River

A walk along the Seine is always a good idea for many reasons. It is best early in the morning, when the sun is not too strong and the river banks are quiet, or late in the afternoon to get the golden light. Walk along the river from the Tuileries Garden up to the Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall), or around the Ile st Louis to photograph life along the Seine: young lovers on a bench, a Parisian walking her dog, maybe a few fisherman trying their luck, or a group of friends enjoying a picnic.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

The Luxurious Gardens of Paris

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. A stroll through the gardens of Paris is a sure way to get good images, especially in the Spring when the magnolia and cherry trees are in bloom along with other splashes of colours. From the famous Tuileries Garden, with its classic French garden design, to the Bois de Boulogne and its new Louis Vuitton Museum intriguing architecture, there is a wide range of photo opportunities to be explore.

Other options: Jardin de Luxembourg, Jardin des Plantes, Parc Monceau
Bridges of Paris

The Majestic Bridges of Paris

The Seine river is spanned by many bridges, some of which are particularly good for photography. Our favourites include: the famous Pont des Arts, the Alexandre III bridge with its very ornate style and view of the Eiffel Tower, the Pont Neuf with its sculptured faces and views of the Ile de la Cité, the modern passerelle Simone de Beauvoir that looks like two waves beside each other, and the Bir Hakeim bridge with its unique architecture and great views.

Paris from the Top

Paris from the Top

Although it is very low-rise, the skyline of Paris presents many unique photo opportunities such as the well-known Parisian zinc roof tops and some of the famous landmarks. There are a few great places to get a high vantage point to photograph Paris from the top. Find out where to go and learn more: Galeries Lafayette and Printemps; Arc de Triomphe; the Tour de Montparnasse, and the Centre Pompidou.


 Of course, we have not listed the classic sites of Paris here, such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. These are also all great, and necessary, places to take photos. We have no doubt, though, that you are already aware of these sites and have already planned your visit to them.

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Photogenic Festivals and Events

As a multicultural capital city, Paris hosts numerous festivals and special events that provide additional opportunities for lively and colourful photography.

Paris from the Top

Selected Events for 2015

Check the calendar to see if one of these will be on during your visit to Paris:

  • Chinese New Year, February 19-20, 2015 (tips on photographing festivals)
  • Holi Colour Festival, April 19, 2015
  • Bastille Day, July 14, 2015 (read more on photographing fireworks)
  • Ganesha Festival, August 30, 2015
  • Christmas Lights on the Champs Elysées, November 15, 2015 to January 6, 2016
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Photography Galleries and Museums

Photography in Paris is not only about taking great images, but also experiencing the photos of others. Here are a few places to do just that.

Museum Banner

La Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP)

Located in the Marais district, the MEP is dedicated to contemporary photography, presenting temporary exhibits and a large permanent photography library recognized around the world. It also offers a good variety of educational presentations related to photography and film.

5/7 rue de Fourcy - 75004 Paris (Métro: St Paul or Pont Marie)
Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm, except public holidays. Admission is free every Wednesday from 5 pm to 8 pm
http://www.mep-fr.org

Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson

Located in the Montparnasse area, the Foundation supports contemporary photography. The restored artists' atelier holds three temporary exhibitions each year, with a small gallery of Cartier Bresson's own work on the top floor.

2 impasse Lebouis, 75014 Paris (Métro: Gaité or Edgar Quinet)
Tuesday - Sunday: 13:00 - 6:30 pm,  Saturday 11:00 - 6:45 pm, Wednesday until 8:30pm. Free Wednesday night from 6:30
http://www.henricartierbresson.org

Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF)

The BNF proposes a number of photo exhibits during the year at its main locations:

Site Richelieu (in the Marais district)
58 rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris (Métro: Bourse or Palais Royal)
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 7:00 pm, Sunday: 12:00 - 7:00 pm. Closed on Monday

Site François Mitterrand (to the East, in the Bercy District)
Quai François-Mauriac, 75706 Paris (Métro: Quai de la gare)
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 7:00 pm, Sunday: 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm. Closed on Monday
http://www.bnf.fr

Musée du Jeu de Paume

The Jeu de Paume proposes a rich calendar of photographic and other image exhibitions. Located in the Tuilerie Gardens (west of the Louvre), it makes a good visit after walking through the gardens, and a good starting point to see the lights on the Champs Elysées in the evening.

1, place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris (Métro: Concorde)
Tuesday: 12:00 - 9:00 pm, Wednesday - Friday: 12:00 - 7:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 - 7:00 pm. Closed on Monday
http://www.jeudepaume.org

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Photography Tips and Advice

Improve the chances of going home with great images of Paris through preparation and by having an idea of what you want to achieve.

Eiffel Tower at Night

Practical Advice for Taking Photos in Paris

Street photography: As in any other country, respect and common sense are key to photographing in the streets of Paris. You can easily get your camera out in most outdoor tourist locations (unless stated otherwise), while in museums or other attractions it is best to check for signs first. It is okay to photograph people in public places, as long as the images taken do not undermine dignity and/or the privacy of a person and do not violate any laws. Read more about the use of model releases.

Use of tripods: Using a tripod may not be very convenient in a busy city like Paris, especially in the daytime, mostly due to the large number of people in the streets. If you enjoy architecture photography, early mornings and late evenings are the best times to set your camera on the tripod. While you can easily bring a tripod on the top of Montparnasse tower to capture Paris from the top, other places like Palais Royal or Arc de Triomphe, will not allow one.

Weather: Paris is one of those cities in the world that look great in any weather, whether it's a hot summer day or a rainy autumn afternoon. Weather forecasts can not always be trusted and what promises to be a gloomy day may easily turn into a sunny one or vice versa. While it rains every so often in any season, pleasant and dry days still prevail, thus making an occasional thunderstorm or a snowfall a rare sight worth capturing against a traditional Parisian background. Get more tips on protecting your camera in the rain and avoiding your camera's worst enemies.

What to wear: Plan for an extra layer of clothes and good walking shoes If you intend to spend at least a couple of hours walking around the city with your camera, especially from October to March. During winter months, warm socks, a hat, a scarf and a pair of gloves coupled with a warm coat and a hood will make you more comfortable and will help to concentrate on photography rather than weather both day and night. In the summer, remember to bring your sunglasses and sunscreen!

Ten Ideas in Paris eBook

A Photographer's Guide to Paris (eBook)

Ten Ideas for Taking Great Photos in the City of Light, by Sophie Pasquet

This downloadable PDF ebook is packed with information and advice that will help you to arrive in Paris with a plan to create great images. Illustrated with compelling images, and accompanied by image data and practical instruction, the ten ideas presented in this ebook will inspire and assist you before, during and after your visit to Paris.

Ten Ideas eBook

Somewhere in Paris | Quelque part à Paris

The City of Light in Black and White, by Sophie Pasquet

While Paris has many colourful neighbourhoods, its true beauty is revealed when seen in black and white. This 80-page photo book provides photographic inspiration to visitors looking to capture the classic elegance of Paris. Through black and white photographs taken in all corners of the city, the book uncovers the romance of its hidden corners, the iconic sites from a different perspective and the nuances of everyday life. Available in hardcover or softcover versions.

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Photo Tours and Portrait Sessions

One surefire way to get the images and memories of your visit to Paris that you want is to seek the advice and assistance of professionals.

Photography Instruction and Guiding

Learn as you go with photography instruction and guiding

While it is fun to discover photography in Paris on your own, taking a guided photo tour can teach you new skills and sharpen your photographer's eye and creativity, all while helping you discover great photography spots in the company of a local photographer. With more time, you can even immerse yourself with other photographers in a multi-day workshop. To help you decide, we have put together a list of a few things to consider when choosing a photo tour.

 It was a wonderful, unforgettable experience; I would definitely recommend it and do it again in the future. 
- Katrien M. (October 2014)

Couple at Cafe near Notre Dame

Book a photographer to capture your fun memories

Want to go home with more than awkward selfies or fuzzy pictures of you? Meet our local photographers for a fun photo session around Paris and create the best memories, ever. Choose your favourite style, from posed portraits in front of iconic Parisian backdrops, through to candid shots of you and your family or friends wandering the streets. Receive a gallery of final high resolution images.

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Camera Service and Supplies

Sometimes on the road you need emergency camera service, sensors cleaned or to purchase a fully-charged battery. Here are some useful addresses in Paris.

Objectif Bastille

Offers: equipment & accessories sales

11 Rue Jules César, 75012 Paris (map)
01 43 43 57 38
Monday to Friday: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm

Le Cirque Photo Video

Offers: equipment & accessories sales

9 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris (map)
01 40 29 91 91
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 6:45 pm

FNAC

Offers: equipment & accessories sales

Galerie commerciale Forum des Halles - Portes Berger / Lescot
1/7, rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris (map)
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

Vilma

Offers: maintenance & repair (esp. Canon)

72, 76 rue du Surmelin, 75020 Paris (map)
01 43 64 76 76
Monday to Friday: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm

1001 Piles Batteries

Offers: fully-charged batteries

22, Rue des Halles, 75001 Paris (map)
01 40 26 51 15
Monday: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Tuesday to Friday: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Atelier Images Services

Offers: camera cleaning

79, Bd Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris (map)
01 48 05 92 45
Monday to Saturday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Map of Camera Stores in Paris

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