My first trip to Paris resulted in me really hating the city, so when my best friend asked if I wanted to join her for a long weekend in La Ville Lumière… I wasn’t totally sure. However, she’s awesome (for real) and flights weren’t too expensive so I decided I would go.
And you know what?
I don’t regret it ONE bit! I think it ended up being one of my best trips that year and we had an amazing time, plus we pretty did our own Instagram-inspired tour of the city. So, what are the most beautiful places to visit in Paris? Here are my top picks for the most awesome photo opportunities in the city!
Most Beautiful Places in Paris
Metro stop: Trocadéro (M6, M9)
I didn’t make any promises that these would be ‘hidden gems’ because this is probably one of the most photographed spots in Paris. But you know what? It’s pretty darn epic and possibly one of the most beautiful places in Paris for views of the Eiffel Tower – possibly one of my favourite Instagram places in Paris!
I highly recommend going there at sunrise because otherwise it is crazy busy. If you go at a busy time then you end up waiting for people to get their photos and move out the way and no one really wants to stand around waiting to get that perfect Insta shot, right?
I also recommend not wearing a skirt made from a satin/otherwise slippery material if you’re going to sit on the wall… because after this photo was taken I tried to get off the wall and ended up sliding partway down the wall. And let’s just say there’s a huuuuuuge drop the other side.
It was mildly terrifying. Oops!
Looking for the most beautiful places in Paris to visit in three days? Check out Natasha’s itinerary for three days in Paris!
Metro stops: Havre – Caumartin (M3, M9), Saint-Lazare (M12, M13, M14), Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette (M7)
Wait, a shopping centre is an Instagram spot? In Paris it most definitely is! After you’ve spent some time window shopping the designer clothes and handbags, head up to the terrace to find a café with some of the best views over Paris. Sunset is a perfect time to head up for a drink or two to see just how beautiful Paris is!
A glass of wine and views of the Eiffel Tower? Count me in!
64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Le Palais Royal
Metro stop: Pyramides (M14), Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre (M1, M7)
Zohra originally spotted this on an Instagrammer’s feed and spent forever trying to figure out where it was. Seriously, tag your locations people, it will save me sooooo much time (for real though).
After spending ages waiting for one guy standing on a column chatting away on his phone, we had just got all set up to take some cute Insta-worthy spots when suddenly a huge school group walked out behind where Zohra was stood. Cue two impatient girls standing around and waiting for the group of school kids with suitcases to pass…
However, there’s also a great café nearby to get your caffeine fix – Café Kitsune is both coffee heaven and Insta-spot!
8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
Are you curious what camera I use? I love my Olympus E-PL8 – perfect for carrying around all day and it barely takes up any space, plus it has all the features of a DSLR! Bonus points for it being ultra cute, too.
Arc de Triomphe
Metro stop: Charles de Gaulle – Étoile (M1, M2, M6)
It’s not exactly the most unique find ever, but a visit to (and up!) the Arc de Triomphe is a must. When Zohra and I went, we met up with a friend of mine from school who was living and working in Paris. It was his first time going up the Arc de Triomphe as well and I quote, “I should have done this before”. Of all the beautiful places Paris has to offer, this is definitely one of the best (and most touristy!).
The views are impressive! I would 100% recommend getting a skip-the-line ticket – I might be British but I really hate queues. Really. Hate. Queues. We bought ours from Tiqets and I highly recommend them! The ticket gets sent straight to your email, no physical ticket required.
Of course, the Arc de Triomphe is a tourist hotspot so it will be busy at pretty much any time you want to visit. However, since it is ticketed they control how many people are there so it’s not so bad and you can definitely get some awesome shots!
Important note: there is no lift so you have to climb the 284 steps. Great to work off a big lunch, but it does mean that those with mobility problems may not be able to visit.
Metro stop: Pyramides (M14), Bourse (M3)
I entirely have Zohra and her Instagram obsession to thank for this gem! I’m beginning to think that every single shopping centre in Paris is photoshoot ready… It was built in 1823 and is now considered a historical monument – I’m not surprised at all! It’s also not far from Le Palais Royal, so you can walk from one to the other in no time. Possibly one of the best hidden gems in Paris!
5 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris
Montmartre / Basilica of Sacre-Coeur
Metro stop: Abbesses (M12), Anvers (M2)
Montmartre is best known for the Sacré-Cœur, but that’s not all you will find in this Parisian neighbourhood! The white basilica dominates the skyline here, but you should also make sure not to miss the rest of what this area has to offer – many of the most beautiful places to see in Paris are in Montmartre.
The Moulin Rouge is here, as well as the Church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, which is one of the oldest surviving churches in Paris (but often missed due to the aforementioned Sacré-Cœur) and is said to date back to the 3rd century.
For those interested in art, music and museums then the Montmartre Museum may be of interest, where the composer Eric Satie once lived, and the Bateau Lavoir, where Picasso and Matisse once resided.
However, the main attraction is – without doubt – the impressive basilica that stands on the hill above Montmartre. “La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre”, or as most people refer to it “the Sacre-Coeur” is actually relatively ‘new’ as well-known churches go, since it was constructed from 1875 to 1914, and only formally dedicated in 1919, after the end of World War I.
Emily from The Glittering Unknown recommends visiting early to catch the sunrise and get great shots without all the tourists! I also highly recommend reading her post to find more Instagram spots in the Montmartre area.
Beautiful Places in Montmartre
Some of my favourite places in Montmartre are the beautiful buildings – you have the insta-famous La Maison Rose as well as the historic coffee house and restaurant Le Consulat.
La Maison Rose: 2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir, 75018 Paris
Le Consulat: 8 Rue Norvins, 75018 Paris
Looking to improve your Français before jetting off to Paris? The Lonely Planet French phrasebook is perfect for brushing up on those basics, merci beaucoup!
Jardin du Luxembourg
Train stop: Luxembourg (RER B)
Metro stop: Odéon (M4, M10)
This is such a great spot to simply sit and relax! People watching, picnicking or simply getting some sun are a great way to while away a few hours in the Jardin du Luxembourg. The garden and the palace it was built around (conveniently named Palais du Luxembourg) were created and constructed in the 1600s by Marie de’ Medici and built as an imitation of the Pitti Palace in Florence.
The gardens cover a total of 23 hectares (around 57 acres or 230,000 square metres). Basically, they are MASSIVE. It’s a wonderful place to sit in the sun and enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat.
Galeries Lafayette (Boulevard Haussmann)
Metro stop: Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette (M7, M9)
Train stop: Auber (RER A)
Okay so I’ve already mentioned that Paris seems to have a thing with pretty and Instagrammable shopping centres… but here’s another. I KNOW. Sorry, not sorry.
The shopping centre (mall? Epic building? Magnificent work of architecture?) is an incredible place – let’s just say remember to look up. The ceiling is seriously fantastic! Galeries Lafayette was opened in 1912 and now has various other locations around the world, including a newly opened one on Champs Elysees as well as in Berlin, Dubai, Beijing and more.
It is also another perfect place to visit the terrace for great views of Paris (although sadly there is no roof café here).
PS: There is currently a 9m long glass walkway (#Glasswalk) in Galeries Lafayette providing spectacular views of the beautiful shopping centre – you are suspended 16m high and it makes for some incredible images as well!
Metro stop: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe (M4, M6, M12, M13)
Tour Montparnasse in itself isn’t attractive at all. It’s a bit of an eyesore on the skyline of Paris and in 2008 was voted the second ugliest building in the world.
According to our tour guide (and the Wikipedia page), the view from the top of the Tour Montparnasse is the most beautiful in Paris… since it’s the only place where you can’t see the tower itself. Ouch.
There is a fee to visit the panorama observatory, which was why we didn’t go in the end. However, the views are absolutely incredible!
For the best viewpoints of the Eiffel Tower, check out Zohra’s top four round-up!
33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris
Metro stop: Solférino (M12)
Train stop: Musée d’Orsay (RER C)
I was so disappointed that we ran out of time before we managed to visit Musée d’Orsay. It’s at the top of my list of must-sees for when I next visit Paris!
The building that houses the museum actually used to be a railway station, which you can see in the architectural style. It is now one of the largest art museums in Europe and is an incredible work of art in itself.
Don’t forget to buy your ticket! There is also free entry on the first Sunday of each month, as well as at any time for under 18s and also those aged 18-25 who are residents or citizens in an EU country.
1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris
If you are like me and love having a physical guidebook to carry around, then I highly recommend the Lonely Planet Paris guidebook – it’s compact, detailed and has all the best places!
Musée national Gustave Moreau
Metro stop: Trinité (M12), Saint Georges (M12), Pigalle (M12 or M2), Trinité – Estienne d’Orves (M12)
Possibly my favourite ‘hidden gem’ in Paris (and funnily enough it’s my most saved photo on Instagram!) is the beautiful Musée national Gustave Moreau. Located in the 9th arrondissement, this museum is dedicated to the works of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau.
While I’m not much of an art museum person, I had seen images of this museum on Instagram and since I was in Paris during the ‘Long Night of the Museums’ (Nuit des Musées) this year (May 18th 2019) I decided to visit since the entry was free and the museum was open until 11pm!
The staircase is incredibly instagrammable (visit early if you want to see it without people) and the art is, of course, very interesting (although the majority of information is in French only).
Entry: €7, €5 for concessions and free for those aged under 18, citizens of EU countries aged 18-26 and also free for everyone on the first Sunday of each month.
14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009 Paris
Pont Alexandre III
Metro stop: Champs-Élysées – Clemonceau (M1, M13)
Train stop: Champs-Élysées – Clemonceau (RER A)
Possibly one of the prettiest bridges in Paris! It also provides a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower and is a great photo spot. You will see a lot of people doing wedding photoshoots here as well.
The bridge connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with the Invalides quarter and was built for the 1900 World Exhibition. It is named for Tsar Alexander III who concluded the Franco-Russian alliance in 1892.
Metro stop: Champs-Élysées – Clemonceau (M1, M13)
Train stop: Champs-Élysées – Clemonceau (RER A)
Another structure built for the 1900 World Exhibition (Exposition Universelle) is the extravagant Petit Palais, which faces the Grand Palais and is only a very short walk from Pont Alexandre III.
The Petit Palais (small palace) now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris) but is a work of art in itself! The central archway (pictured below) is the focal point of the façade and is definitely a must visit. We visited the museum when it was open but you can also visit before or after closing times to see the door fully closed and admire the beautiful architecture.
Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris
Metro stop: Opéra (M3, M7, M8)
Train stop: Auber (RER A)
Another of my absolute favourite buildings in Paris is the spectacular Palais Garnier, also known as the Opéra Garnier. This opera house was built in the late 19th-century for the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet. The Palais Garnier is now predominantly used for ballet, rather than opera (more commonly at Opéra Bastille).
Both the façade and the interior are beautiful and a must-see in Paris. The interior is possibly one of the most beautiful interiors of buildings in the city and a visit to the Opera is well worth the money!
Entry: €12 for self-guided and €17 for a guided tour (with reductions for children, seniors and students)
Getting Around Paris
Public transport in Paris is perfect for travelling around to reach the above ten spots! We travelled most of the time by metro and train (RER) and I would recommend purchasing a carnet (“car-nay”), which is a pack of 10 tickets and costs €14.90 (as of May 2019). These can be purchased at any metro station.
A single ticket costs €1.90 and you can also purchase a ‘Paris Visite’ pass, which is a pass for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days and covers all public transport in the city. You can either buy one covering Paris zones 1-3 or Ile-de-France region (all zones, airport connections, Disneyland Paris and Chateau de Versailles).
Paris Visite pass costs:
- Paris Zones 1-3
- 1 day – €12
- 2 days – €19.50
- 3 days – €26.65
- 5 days – €38.35
- Ile-de-France Region
- 1 day – €25.25
- 2 days – €38.35
- 3 days – €53.75
- 5 days – €65.80
Find out more about the different tickets on the RATP website!
Getting to and from the airport
Ticket for travel to and from the airports to Paris city are as follows:
To/from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
- Roissybus: Paris (Opera) – CDG (€12)
- RER B: Paris (RER B stations) – CDG (€10.30)
- Bus 350: Paris Gare de l’Est – CDG (€6)
- Bus 351: Paris (Place de la Nation) – CDG (€6)
To/from Paris Orly (ORY)
- Orlybus: Paris (Place Denfert-Rochereau) – ORY (€8.30)
- Orlyval: Paris Gare d’Antony (RER B) – ORY (€9.30)
- Tramway T7: Villejuif-Louis Aragon (metro M7) – ORY (€1.90)
- Bus 183: Porte de Choisy (metro M7) – ORY (€2)
To/from Paris Beauvais (BVA)
- Airport shuttle bus: Paris (Porte Maillot) – BVA (€17)
Where to stay in Paris
Disclaimer: I was sponsored for a two-night stay at Hotel Adèle & Jules, a one-night stay at The Hoxton, a two-night stay at Hotel Château Frontenac and a one-night stay at FAUCHON l’Hotel Paris. All opinions are, as always, my own.
These hotels are instagrammable in their own right! I highly recommend Hotel Adèle & Jules for a more homely feel in the city (I mean, they have a happy hour in the afternoon with free tea, coffee and croissants – FREE CROISSANTS GUYS) and FAUCHON L’Hotel for full-on luxury!
The Hoxton is possibly one of the prettiest interiors with all their indoor foliage as well as their spiral staircase and don’t miss the Eiffel Tower view at Hotel Château Frontenac.
These are some of my favourite hotels in Paris:
- Hôtel Adèle & Jules, located in the 9th arrondissement near Opéra Garnier
- FAUCHON L’Hotel, located in the 8th arrondissement on Place de la Madeleine
- The Hoxton, located in the 2nd arrondissement near Grands Boulevards
- Hotel Château Frontenac, located in the 8th arrondissement near Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées
I also met a businessman at Hotel Adèle & Jules who was from the same small town in England as I am… That was definitely one of those ‘odd coincidence’ moments!
Tips for photographing Paris
Well, this is a post about the most beautiful and photogenic spots so I might as well include some tips here too!
Landscape or portrait?
If you are shooting for Instagram, then the optimum would be portrait and a 4:5 ratio. This fills the screen well on most phones so people can see the best of your photo!
If you are shooting for a blog or for other photography purposes, then generally landscape would be better for city views and so on.
How do I get a photo without people in it?
Well, sometimes it can be people that make the shot! A well-timed cyclist or an elegant French woman walking away from the camera can totally make a photo, but sometimes you want your photo void of all people (or only with your subject in).
The best way to get photos without people in them are to go to the place when no people are around. It sounds simple and it is… but usually involves getting somewhere for around 5-7am for sunrise, depending on the time of year.
The other (cheekier) option is to simply edit people out, but this is a lengthy process and you need a lot of practice if you want it to be perfect!
How can I edit my photos like yours?
Why, thank you for asking. I always do before and after shots on my Instagram story so people can see how I edit my photos and this eventually led to creating my own presets!
Paris was one of the first locations I did this for and, if you use Lightroom, you can get my presets and edit your photos in a similar style too. These presets aren’t just exclusive for Paris photos either – I have been informed by James of Lost Traveller that they work very nicely on his Japan photos as well!
And here’s a handy little map of all the places I recommend:
Of course, there are so many more beautiful places in Paris and this list could go on forever. However, I have selected my top choices to highlight here and I hope you enjoy discovering your own as well!
Have you been to Paris? What are your most Instagrammable spots in the city?
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