One of the most enduringly iconic cities in Europe, Paris is a must-see destination for many.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your partner, an art enthusiast seeking a pilgrimage to the Louvre, a wiry indie musician looking to dive deep into the city’s music scene or a sports fan plotting out a 2024 Olympics visit, it’s, as they say, always a good time to go to Paris.
It’s no surprise, then, that the French capital is also one of the most Instagrammed cities on the planet, with around 135 million posts of the city shared on this popular social media app, according to Money.co.uk. But when a city has so much to offer and so many spots to see and enjoy, knowing where to visit and what to skip — let alone which angles are the best for capturing such iconic sights — can be tricky.
Sure, worrying about where to get the best photo in a city that offers so much might seem trivial. However, we’re all friends here, so let’s be real. Whether you share it in your carefully curated Instagram feed or keep it for yourself, the ideal photo can be a timeless document of our adventures, so why not make every one you take as good as it can be?
During a recent trip to the City of Light, a journey that millions of people take every year, TPG pursued some of the best photo-ops the city has to offer so you can capture phenomenal pictures and avoid some of Paris’ photo pitfalls when you visit.
Here’s all you need to know about Paris’ best photo spots and how you can grab pictures that will cause your Instagram feed to light up with likes … or, at least, make that digital memory you keep for yourself look all that much sweeter.
Related: These are the best hotels in Paris
Perched atop Montmartre hill within Paris’ 18th Arrondissement, Sacré-Coeur Basilica is an architectural treat that tourists often miss in favor of more well-known attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
Don’t make this mistake.
The Basilica, which features beautiful Romano-Byzantine architecture, is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, offering impressive Paris panoramas once you reach its front.
Don’t take your pictures from the bottom where there are hordes of tourists
Arriving at the Basilica, it’s easy to think the best location to capture its domed roofs would be the bottom of Montmartre hill, allowing for an almost Taj Mahal-like backdrop.
This is a missed opportunity.
For one, you’ll be surrounded by other tourists attempting the same snap, cluttering up your own photo. Plus, you’ll reduce the might of the Basilica to a mere backdrop. From this location, it’s impossible to truly comprehend its full scale and intricate design.
Do take a low-angle shot at the summit
The steps might seem daunting, but for the best shot of the Basilica (and the most impressive city views), you’ll need to head straight to the top. Don’t like stairs? Don’t worry; there’s a funicular that will quickly take you to the summit.
At the top of the hill, we found the best photo position on the right side (opposite the funicular) by the stairway leading back down. To get the best picture, crouch low and angle your camera upward to cut out other tourists and position the Basilica towering above you in the sky.
If you’re happy to lose some of the Basilica in the shot, you can also snap a photo as you lean on the iconic padlock-adorned railings in front — your photographer will need to be on the nearby stairs for this shot. Consider the rule of thirds and position the Basilica to one side or the center of your photo. Once again, tilt your camera so you’re shooting upward.
TPG’s top tips: Montmartre Hill is also the location of another famed Paris Instagram shot: the sinking houses. As the name likely betrays, this is an optical illusion caused by the hill, resulting in the nearby houses appearing to sink into the ground.
The best place to get this shot is on the right side of the main stairs near the top level of the hill. Resist the urge to put yourself in the photo, as this will detract from the sinking houses’ hypnotic illusion.
Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
Nearest metro station: Anvers (Line 2)
La Maison Rose
This charming pink Instagram icon is a short walk from Sacré-Coeur Basilica.
In the early 20th century, it was frequented by famous artists and boho figures, including Pablo Picasso. Today, it’s a must-stop spot for both Instagram influencers and tourists.
Don’t bother getting a shot of La Maison Rose
We’re sorry to say it, but this spot is the perfect encapsulation of the “reality vs. Instagram” meme. The place teems with tourists, and it’s impossible to get the snap you’d really want (unless you turn up incredibly early).
Much to the chagrin of the restaurant staff, the road in front of the restaurant is clogged with tourists trying to get their ‘gram moment, and very few successfully manage it. If you’re looking for a fairy-tale shot shrouded in pink, you’re going to struggle most times of the day.
Do grab a snap of the quintessentially French streets nearby
If you turn 45 degrees to the right once you reach La Maison Rose, you’ll be greeted by Rue Cortot.
This beautiful cobblestone street is framed with lush greenery and the Montmartre Museum, a 17th-century art museum where Pierre-Auguste Renoir once worked. It may be a lesser-known spot, but you’ll get a much more authentic Parisian photo here, where by comparison, La Maison Rose seems like a synthetic depiction of Paris generated by AI.
TPG’s top tips: If you’re seeking out La Maison Rose, you might forgo grabbing coffee or a delicious pastry on the way with the intention of eating there. Be prepared for long wait times if you do, and note that the restaurant doesn’t serve coffee or food to go.
Instead of dining at the eatery, we recommend grabbing refreshments from one of the charming nearby cafes you’ll pass en route.
Location: 2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir, 75018 Paris, France
Nearest metro station: Lamarck-Caulaincourt (Line 12)
Arc de Triomphe
Commissioned by Napolean Bonaparte, the Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most iconic monuments.
Built to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, the monument is an awe-inspiring structure that’s size is almost incomprehensible until you see it in real life.
Don’t take a death-defying shot from the road
At 164 feet tall and 148 feet wide, the Arc is a mammoth landmark found in the center of a busy roundabout. It’s easy to be intimidated by its sheer bulk and the chaotic roads surrounding it.
The de facto shot taken by most tourists is from the opposite side of the road, where you need to time your moment perfectly for when the traffic lights change to allow you to step into the (temporarily empty) traffic lanes closest to the pavement.
This is a terrifying experience.
Cars will still be whistling by in other lanes until the lights change back, and if you miss the lights changing, you could be in trouble. As impressive as the Arc is, it’s certainly not worth being hit by a car for — we promise your fear will show in the photo.
Do take a low-angle shot that embraces the sheer size of the Arc
If you walk to the nearby metro station, you can cross beneath the busy road and pop up safely on the other side at the base of the Arc. From here, head toward the front of the Arc and walk toward the heavy chain-link fence surrounding it. From this position, you can angle your camera low and cut out the crowds of tourists for a perfect shot of the Arc’s intricate architecture.
Finally, it might seem counter-intuitive, but a moody, cloudy day is ideal for a shot of this famous war memorial, as it will perfectly complement the structure’s looming height and imposing architectural glory.
TPG’s top tips: Heading to the Arc through the metro, you’ll see lots of people queueing for paid official tours of the structure. It can seem like this is the only option available, but don’t be dismayed. You can skip the queues and head up for free if you only want to marvel at the Arc from its perimeter.
Location: Pl. Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Nearest metro station: Charles de Gaulle — Étoile (Lines 1, 2 and 6)
Rising 1,083 feet above the Parisian skyline, this iron icon needs no introduction, but we’ll try anyway.
An enduring romantic symbol of the City of Love, the Eiffel Tower might be the most famous structure in all of Europe and is a must-see attraction for any visitor.
Don’t snap a stereotypical funny picture
One of the Eiffel Tower’s most popular photo spots is Trocadéro Gardens, found to the right of the City of Architecture and Heritage (Paris’ premier architecture museum). This open square is typically full of tourists posing for Instagram snaps, and a large majority will be pretending that they’re carefully leaning on or pinching its tip.
It’s fine if you want that image, but you can do better and at least get another shot to go along with it. It’ll briefly seem funny, but once you upload the image to Instagram, you’ll see you’re just one of thousands of people with the same idea.
Do take a subtly framed snap of the tower puncturing the skyline
Owing to its whopping size, the Eiffel Tower can be easily seen from various vantage points and side streets, which is perfect for the more discerning would-be-Insta-influencer.
For a prime location, head to Rue de L’Université in the Seventh Arrondissement. Here, you’ll find a picturesque street that brilliantly frames the tower between two buildings and a lovely, vibrant green tree.
Let the tower take center stage, and drop yourself out of the photo or ensure that you’re not the prime focus of the image. You’ll thank us later when the likes rack up.
TPG’s top tip: If you are aching for a photo of the Eiffel Tower that you can also be in, we’d recommend putting some distance between you and the tower and seeking out the Pont Alexandre III bridge (especially if it isn’t too windy).
If you walk about two-thirds of its length from the Quai d’Orsay entrance to the bridge, you’ll be able to grab a great river view photo of the Eiffel Tower rising above the Paris skyline and the Seine.
Location: Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Nearest metro station: Trocadéro (Lines 6 and 9); Invalides (Lines 8 and 13)
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is a breathtaking ode to the Gothic architecture found on Paris’ Île de la Cité. Its centuries-old history and artistry make it a well-known pilgrimage for visitors to Paris.
However, following a fire in 2019, much of the cathedral is now covered by construction work, with repairs expected to be completed in December 2024.
Don’t take a bleak photo of construction and repair work
It breaks our hearts to say it, but it’s virtually impossible to properly take in the incredible cathedral right now, let alone get a good photo of it. The beautiful landmark is surrounded by a protective fence obscuring much of its stunning details.
Thoughtfully, officials have constructed a viewing bleacher opposite the cathedral entrance to allow for a better view, but, truth be told, it does little to mask the ongoing repair work.
Do come back in 2024 to witness the cathedral in all its glory
If you must get a photo, check out the bleachers and head for the top level. If it’s quiet, you might be able to stand on one of the benches to get a photo that cuts out the construction materials, cranes and crew working hard to restore this once magnificent building.
Aim to visit the cathedral again after the repairs are completed in December 2024. In its prime, it is a sight to behold.
TPG’s top tips: If Notre Dame Cathedral’s current status leaves you craving a bit of Gothic architecture, visit the nearby Sainte-Chapelle. Though only a chapel compared to the aforementioned cathedral, its jaw-dropping, purple-splashed interior is seriously worth your time. Do note, however, that you must purchase a ticket to enter.
Location: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Nearest metro station: Cité (Line 4)
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole
A small wine bar found a short stroll from Île de la Cité, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole is an old-world hidden gem. Its ivy-draped front is crammed with the vintage charm of a bygone era of Parisian elegance.
An utterly perfect spot to grab a large glass of French red, this wine bar is the place to go to relax after a day of sightseeing.
Don’t take a snap that cuts out how beautiful this place is
Out of all of the places we visited in Paris, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole was the most picture-perfect of them all.
It is virtually impossible to take a photograph of this location that doesn’t look at least pretty good. Believe us, we tried.
Do grab a snap while you sip a fine red and philosophically ponder to yourself
You may be tempted to simply grab a photo and continue on to more famous sights, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t take some time to enjoy the setting.
Order a glass of red wine and sit for a bit. Trust us, you’ll appreciate the pause in your day and having the chance to properly take in the charming atmosphere while your photographer captures the moment (and your enchanting surroundings).
TPG’s top tips: Don’t spend all your time outside.
The seating area out front is beautiful and relaxing despite its proximity to the road, and with table service, it’d be easy to never venture across the wine bar’s thresholds. However, the quirky antiques on display inside would excite any Francophile. There’s also a pretty courtyard hidden away from the street view.
Location: 24 Rue Chanoinesse, 75004 Paris, France
Nearest metro station: Cité (Line 4)