Guide to Paris Photo Locations

Shawn M. Kent Avatar Photo

Shawn.Kent

February 16, 202127 Minutes

We’ve gathered our favourite Paris Photo Locations from the hundreds of photography spots we’ve collected over the years. From stunning boulevards, landmarks, parks and monuments, Paris is truly a photographer’s mecca. We’ve also done the research and will share with you pro tips and tricks that will save you hours of research and help you capture the most stunning photos possible. We’ll also go beyond the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum and share the location of some lesser-known secret Paris photo spots. So, grab your camera and come with us as we explore the streets of one of Europe’s most famous cities: Paris, France.

1. Montparnasse Tower View

No trip to Paris is complete without an epic shot of the city that showcases its iconic landmarks. The Eiffel Tower, tree-lined streets, and other beautiful Paris photo locations are all in the same view. Montparnasse Tower is undoubtedly one of the best places for photographing the city. Located atop a 210-metre tall office building, photographers will find an observation deck perfect for taking stunning cityscape photos.

Montparnasse Tower View - Photo by Joe deSousa

Montparnasse Tower may not be a secret photo spot in Paris, given that it is the tallest building in the city, but you may not know the rooftop is open to the public. Montparnasse Tower itself is not incredibly photogenic, standing high above the city. The architecture is a bit plain, and for some, it is a bit of an eyesore. Locals often joke that the view from Montparnasse Tower is so nice because it is the one viewpoint of Paris without the Tower in it.

You will have to purchase tickets at a cost of about €18.00 to visit the observation decks. The tower is typically open from 1030-2230 daily all year round. Check the sunset times and schedule your visit to be there for golden hour. There is also a light show at the Eiffel tower usually held an hour after dusk. Given Montparnasse’s popularity as a Paris Instagram Photo spot, you should arrive at least an hour early to stake a claim on a shooting location and set up your tripod. We recommend using a tool like The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) to check the sun’s angle at dusk. If you don’t use TPE, know that the sun sets nearest the Eiffel Tower from April-Jun. Even if the time of year is not ideal for sunset, timing your visit for dusk will still result in stunning photographs as the sky tints and the lights of the city come on.

Equipment-wise, a tripod is essential. A lightweight tripod will not only help stabilize your camera but also help you stake a claim to a shooting location once the tourist’s camera phones come out. We also recommend packing a variety of lenses to get different shooting opportunities. For reference, a 50mm lens will allow you to capture both the Eiffel Tower and the St Louis des Invalides Cathedral in the same shot on a full-frame camera. These are the two major iconic landmarks visible from this photo spot. If you are looking for a tighter shot of the Eiffel Tower, a longer lens will be required. As a final tip, be sure to shoot through the gap in the glass at eye height. This will prevent the dirty glass from ruining your shot and also prevent reflections. For more info or to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.tourmontparnasse56.com/

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2. Hôtel de Ville

The Hôtel de Ville is a renaissance-styled building that is the home of the Paris City Council offices. Despite the somewhat dull work within its walls, the building’s exterior is lovely, making it a top Paris photo spot. The building was built in the 1800s when it replaced a previous structure that burned down during the Paris Commune in 1871 and is situated perfectly for photography along the Seine river.

Hôtel de Ville, Paris - Photo by Panoramas

The Hôtel de Ville is the site of a very famous photograph entitled “The Kiss” taken by Robert Doisneau in 1950 and is widely considered to capture perfectly the romance that Paris is known for. Street photographers seeking to recreate the famed photograph will find crowds of people in the Hotel de Ville Courtyard as the area is very pedestrian-friendly, but finding romantic-minded couples is best left up to the fates, or photographers can bring their own models (a little secret, Robert Doisneau did).

We like shooting this location at night because of the colour contrast that the blue night sky and the city’s orange lights create. This is particularly evident from the Seine’s far bank with the Arcole bridge (Pont d’Arcole) in the foreground. Other options include shooting down Victoria Avenue and using the treelined avenue for framing. The Clocktower of Hotel de Ville is well-positioned for a symmetrical shot down the Avenue and helps create leading lines.

Finally, our favourite time of year to shoot at Hotel de Ville is in winter after snow. The Christmas lighting and contrast of the dark roof against a snow-dusted environment are absolutely perfect.

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3. Pont Alexandre III

There are many bridges in Paris, but Pont Alexandre III is the fairest of them all. This opulent water crossing is decorated with wrought iron sculptures of cherubs and nymphs and faux marble gilded with golden highlights. No other bridge in Paris comes close to the unique design of the Pont Alexandre III. The bridge was built in honour of Russian Tsar Alexandre after the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892 and was designed to emulate the Grand Palais’ style, found on its northern bank.

Pont Alexandre III - Photo by Léonard Cotte

Photographing Pont Alexandre III comes down to a selection of options. The bridge is certainly one of the better Paris night photo spots. However, it is also very photogenic during the day, and some of the detail of the ironwork can be lost when shooting at night. As for where to shoot it from, a popular option is to photograph the bridge in a way that captures the Grand Palais in the background. There are two places you can capture this style of photo from. The first is from the lower road along the water, and the second is from the Quai d’Orsay’s higher road. The higher road will offer more visibility to the Grand Palais. This is also an ideal spot for sunset or sunrise photography given the bridge’s north-south orientation. Capturing sunrises on the western side and sunsets on the eastern side is very easy.

Photographers can also shoot from the bridge deck itself. At the center of the bridge’s western side can be found a poorly attired nymph statue that has become one of the more popular Paris Instagram photo spots. Shooting over this statue’s right shoulder will capture not only her bemused face but her head, wand, and arm frame the Eiffel Tower perfectly. As a final point, we recommend bringing lenses of medium and wide length to this photo location.

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4. Panthéon

Any photography trip to Paris would be incomplete without visiting one of its many stunning historic churches and cathedrals. While the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is very well known, we recommend the Panthéon for sheer wow factor instead. Often called the Temple of France, architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot designed the Panthéon to meet Louis XV’s wish to glorify the monarchy in the form of a church dedicated to Saint Geneviève, patron Saint of Paris. The soaring columns, detailed sculptures and gravity-defying arches and domes are picture perfect and create fantastic photos that almost resemble an M.C. Escher illustration’s infinite depth.

Panthéon - Photo by Matt Ernst

Because the Panthéon is atop a hill and so imposing, shooting it from the outside can be challenging. Capturing both the Pantheon columns and its iconic dome while also limiting the distraction of cars and surrounding buildings can be a challenge. Namely, the closer you are, the more a perspective distortion known as keystoning will create problems. This distortion can be a problem for shots like this, especially when shooting with a wide-angle lens. Photographers can correct this distortion in image processing software after the fact, and if you are lucky enough to have a tilt-shift lens, this is the place to use it. Using software will result in loss of detail in the more distant objects, such as the Panthéon dome, which is not ideal. 

You can avoid all these issues, however, by shooting inside the Panthéon. The bright interior illumination and myriad shooting areas make it a delight to photograph on the inside. Ideally, we recommend a zoom lens such as a 24-105mm or similar for shooting the Panthéon. You may find your time-limited, and having flexibility in focal length will be a benefit. Also, expect to use an exposure with a shutter speed of at least 1/60th of a second. Tripods can be a pain in locations such as this, especially when it is crowded. Position yourself against anything solid to eliminate blur in your images and make sure you capture detail even in far off elements of your photos.

Panthéon Ticket prices are quite reasonable, and they are available, as well as the hours of operation, from the Paris Tourist Office website.  The best time to visit to shoot this iconic Paris photography spot is probably midday. This will result in the most light being cast into the interior of the Panthéon. While sunsets and sunrises are lovely here, the building is impressive enough that it stands on its own on a bright cloudless or partially cloudy day. However, be careful on cloudy days as the grey of the exterior stone will not create much separation from the clouds on a grey and dreary day. 

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5. Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Rising high above the picturesque Paris neighbourhood on Montmartre is the stunning Sacré-Coeur Basilica. The Roman Catholic church was built on Butte Montmarte, the highest point in the city. The result is unrivalled, and the church’s unique domed spire construction makes it one of the top Paris photo spots, even if Montmartre is a bit away from the city centre. We recommend at least a half-day spent shooting this Paris photography spot and the surrounding Montmartre neighbourhood’s unique character.

Butte Montmartre - Photo by James Lee

Photographing Sacré-Cœur Basilica is fairly straight forward. There are numerous excellent angles to pick from. One of our favourites is the photographic view that you will get shooting from Place Saint-Pierre, a lovely courtyard at the bottom of a grassy hill on the southern side of the Basilica. This courtyard also features a carousel, which offers some unique foreground interest to your photographic composition. Alternately you can shoot straight up the hill and use the twin staircases to frame and add some leading lines to your composition. Shooting closer to the Basilica is also possible, and we are particularly fond of shooting from Rue Azaïs.

Be sure to explore the surrounding neighbourhood of Montmartre as well to find new and unique views of  Sacré-Cœur Basilica. We are particularly fond of the viewpoint looking up Rue de l’Abreuvoir, where the large dome can just be seen peeking over the tops of the cute French architecture of the area.

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6. Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is certainly not a hidden photo spot in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is without question the defining landmark of Paris. So, any photography guide to Paris must include this iconic destination. But rather than just telling you to shoot a shot of the Eiffel Tower, we’ll try and break down our top three spots to shoot this iconic landmark from.

Eiffel Tower - Photo by Doug Golupski

First off, getting a unique shot of the Tower is difficult. You can take a surreal approach as PIXEO Photographer Doug Golupski has in this infrared shot. The results are impressive and quite lovely. But if you lack an infrared camera, there are three perfect photo spots in and around the tower to capture it. We recommend starting at the furthest site early in the morning and work your way back to the tower two more times throughout the day to catch it at its best.

Palais de Chaillot and Place du Trocadéro (Morning)

Start shooting the courtyard at Palais de Chaillot and the square known as Parvis des Droits de l’Homme near the Place du Trocadéro. This courtyard view is perfect for capturing the tower with some interesting foreground interest created by patterns in the courtyard’s stonework. The adage that the early bird gets the worm is certainly true for photographing this Paris photo spot. By afternoon you will find almost every location swarming with tourists, particularly the Place du Trocadéro. Basically, any time when there may not be tourists (early morning or cold days) will be ideal. As well, since the view of the Eiffel Tower from Place du Trocadéro is southeast facing, you should be able to capture some spectacular sunrises at certain times of the year. Bring a tripod and a long lens. To fill the frame with the Eiffel Tower, you will need at least an 80mm lens.

Click here to see this Paris photo location on the PIXEO Map

Shooting at the Tower Base (Mid-day)

Wander back to around lunch and to shoot at the tower’s base. We recommend shooting along the edge of one of the two water features on either side of the tower. Here can be found lovely park trails, and it is perfect for capturing a sense of the intricate ironworks and architecture that makes the tower so beautiful. The sample shot above is a wonderful example of this shooting location.

Carousel of the Eiffel Tower (Evening)

Finally, photography on the northside of the Eiffel Tower, close to the Seine banks. Here, photographers will find the Carousel of the Eiffel Tower. Capturing a light trail shot with the carousel in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower in the background against a colourful sunset sky is nothing short of magical. Thus this is the perfect spot for capturing the Eiffel Tower at sunset and into the evening.

Click here to see this Paris Photo Location on the PIXEO Map

Click to Explore This Photo Spot on the Map

7. Catacombs of Paris

We promised some Paris hidden photo spots, and it’s time we deliver. The Catacombs of Paris are definitely one of the lesser-known photography locations and they are truly hidden from view in the city. Home to thousands of the remains of Paris’ residents these creepy catacombs are a must-visit for the travel photographer looking for something different. We like this location so much we even wrote an entire Catacombs of Paris Photography Guide that you should check out.

Catacombs of Paris Detail of Skull - Photo by Fred Pixlab

We won’t rehash our previous Guide to the Catacombs, but instead, we’ll hit the highlights. Tickets to visit the Catacombs cost about €30.00, which is a bit on the high side for Paris landmarks, but we think it is worth it. If you’re looking to splurge, they also offer a semi-private tour for about €110.00 that will be less crowded and give you access to parts otherwise inaccessible. We recommend paying for the guided tour as there will be fewer people and more time and space to shoot. We also recommend buying your tickets in advance from their website here: http://catacombes.paris.fr/

Despite the dim interior, anticipate that flash photography, tripods or large bags will not be welcome. These rules present a challenge as the catacombs are not well lit or designed with the photographer in mind. We recommend mini-tripod (small enough to fit in your pocket) or a good old fashioned bean bag you can use as a versatile camera mount. Couple these with the fastest wide-angle lens you own and a high ISO camera, and you should be good to go. Finally, there’s a weird mix of light in the catacombs, which can cause some real white balance issues. Having and using a grey card is a good idea.

One final point, just in case it isn’t self-evident. The catacombs are a burial site. Much like a cemetery, you must have respect for the dead while visiting. Ensure you do not use bright lights, make loud noises or otherwise disturb the solemnity of this beautiful hidden Paris photo spot.

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8. Père Lachaise Cemetery

What do Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison & Maria Callas have in common? They’re all buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. The Père Lachaise Cemetery is definitely one of our favourite places to photograph in Paris.

Père Lachaise Cemetery - Photo by 139904

More garden than a graveyard, exploring Père Lachaise Cemetery is a delightfully quiet oasis in Paris. But, photography is pretty good here. The tombs stand like miniature houses along cobblestoned walkways. Creating a beautiful rhythm to your photographs. We recommend wide angles lenses and shooting during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon to create raked lighting on sunny days. Be sure and change your angle to find geometric patterns that will add interest to your photographs.

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9. La Maison Rose

Another Paris secret photo spot is La Maison Rose in the Montmartre quarter of the city. This quaint pink café stands out in stark contrast with the white and grey of its surroundings. This location has been serving coffee for over a hundred years and during that period has been a popular haunt of artists and tourists alike. Now it awaits your lens and photographic talents.

La Maison Rose - Photo by Linh Nguyen

Shooting La Maison Rose is very straightforward. It can be found in the vicinity of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, and you will probably stumble across it naturally while walking the streets of Montmartre. But we thought we’d include this Paris Photo location just in case. We recommend shooting La Maison Rose on a cloudy day in the spring or summer, so the bright pink of the café and the surrounding lush greenery really pop in your photo. A cloudy day will also create diffuse light perfect for this kind of shot; if you are lucky enough to be here after a light rain shower, even better.

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10. Musée d'Orsay

Last but not least, the Musée d’Orsay is becoming one of the most popular Paris Instagram photo spots. The Museum is located in an old Parisian train station and features two large clocks on the outside, but visitors to the Musée d’ Orsay can also take photos through the clock faces. The result is striking and a great new way to shoot the Paris skyline and Sacré Coeur Basilica.

Musée d’Orsay Clock View - Photo by Karen Andjelic

While the view out the Musee d’Orsay’s clock faces is one of the most interesting Paris photo locations, there are more things to shoot in the Museum than just this Instagram favourite. The Musée d’Orsay is also home to a collection of art treasures that almost rivals the Louvre. From Monet and Renoir to stunning pieces by Van Gogh, the Musee d’Orsay has artworks that rival any museum’s collection. Photography is permitted in the museum and of any of the works for personal use, however, shooting with a tripod or a flash is not permitted.
The museum costs around €14.00 and is free for citizens of European Union countries that are between the ages of 18 and 25. Ticket can be purchased on the website here: https://billetterie.musee-orsay.fr/

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Bonus Paris Photo Locations

No listing of Paris Top Photo Spots could ever hope to capture all the great places to shoot in this great city. We didn’t even touch on the Louvre, Notre Dame and other iconic photo spots. Feel free to check out other great Paris locations on our Photography Spots Map and here are just a few extra that almost made the list:

Bonus Photography Spots in Paris