We’re leaning away from doing travel guides a little bit going into the future in more “commonly travelled” places just because we think the market’s a little bit over saturated as is, and don’t love ever doing something we know has already been overdone. BUT with that being said, we wanted to do a quick post on where to see in Paris as an Instagrammer I should probably add an asterisk to that that says who takes him/herself seriously just because this is geared toward people who want to have the opportunity to get some really great photos without taking exactly what everyone else has already taken and who are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn to fully take advantage of what they have to offer.
We find that one of the biggest bummers about traveling to Paris (or in general) can be the crowds. In areas like the Eiffel Tower, you will get absolutely surrounded by people if you don’t choose your timing wisely. Simultaneously, a lot of people, Americans especially, go to Paris and hit up a lot of the most popular spots (Louvre, Tuileries, Eiffel Tower) but in doing so kind of just satisfy their idea of what Paris is, rather then getting deeper into the city and walking away feeling like they can accurately imagine what living there would be like (which is always how I calibrate how well I know a city).
This past week we had the opportunity to stay at a hotel called Le Roch with one of the single best locations in the city we’ve ever gotten to stay in. We were probably a three minute walk to the Louvre and since we’re in the depths of winter the kind of velvety, dark blue tones in every room and space of this hotel added that touch of opulence that’s, undeniably, very Paris. Also, Paris (kind of like NYC) is famous for having shoebox hotel rooms and apartments. By Paris standards, the rooms at Le Roch were spacious. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a spa hotel, so they have an indoor swimming pool (perfect for after a very early morning cup of hot chocolate at Angelina’s – which is literally five minutes walk away). But what we have to love the most about this place was, again, its location. In fact, it was a five minute walking distance from two of our six favorite shooting spots in Paris. Let’s get to them…
1. Cour d’honneur – the striping and depths of the columns here are so special that it’s a can’t miss. Added bonus is that you can be creative and don’t have to shoot it as it’s been shot before (which sometimes can feel like the case in other spots in Paris)!
2. The Eiffel Tower – obvious one, but if you can’t go at the crack of dawn it’s worth shooting from across the river on the riverwalk. There will be far less people around and you can have your own space to shoot things the way you want to. We got lucky this trip because the snow and ice meant the tower was closed and eerily few tourists were around.
3. The Swings – These are incredibly undershot and just make for a really cool active shoot. You have to be in Paris during the summer, but if you are, go to the fairground within the Tuileries and go on the swings! You’ll get a little dizzy but the views and shots you can get are mesmerizing! Here’s a not so great example, but you get the gist of the views!
4. The City from the Sacre Coeur – At the tippity-top of Paris is the Sacre Coeur, one of the most majestic places I’ve ever watched the sunrise from and another place that, although it’s been overshot, has enough space for you to get creative within. There’s all kinds of ledges and barristers that I have a hard time believing the “perfect” staging and framing has happened there just yet. It’s worth going an hour or so early before sunset (or the day before if you want some peace and quiet at sunrise) and scouting out exactly how you think you’re going to shoot.
5. The Merry Go Round – Some of my absolute favorite Paris photos I’ve seen others take are in front of the merry go round that sits right across the street from the Eiffel Tower. Merry go rounds really offer an opportunity to add motion and a lot of “magic” with all those glinting lights to a shot, and the Eiffel Tower behind it makes for a much cooler more original Eiffel Tower shot than the thousands you’ve seen before (in our opinions!) My favorite is this one by Monja of @mowoblog. It was shot in Denmark but could easily had been done in Paris.
6. Rooftops – I’m not talking about rooftop bars of even hotel rooftops but finding an angle you think you’ll love of the tower and the city and trying your best to finagle your way into a building and onto it’s rooftop. I know, technically, this is kind of bending the law, but Porter and I have snuck onto our fair share of roofs this past year and ultimately, all we can say is that it’s WORTH IT. The best way to get something different is to do something different, and if you can find an unreal rooftop and shoot the tower at an inventive angle among all the “slop” of Tower shots that have been overdone, we’ll bow our heads to you. (Here’s an example by Sam Kolder).
We hope this is helpful & happy shooting!
Anna Lisa & Porter
*Thank you to Le Roch Hotel & Spa for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.