On your first trip to Paris, you have to get a shot of the Eiffel Tower. They practically demand it at US Customs, or at least your friends and family will. But whether you’re looking to diversify your Instagram feed, or you’ve been there, done that and want to see the City of Light through a fresh lens, lots of hidden corners of Paris make for breathtaking pictures – and don’t shout ‘tourist’ as much as whacking every other out-of-towner with your selfie stick, scrambling for a clear shot of the Tower. I have the recipe for a more whimsical, enjoyable trip that will still make all your followers jealous.
1) The Palais Royal
Instead of standing in line for an artsy shot with the Louvre pyramid, cross the Rue de Rivoli and pose with the striped columns in the Galerie du Jardin of the Palais Royal. While you’re at it, check out the unique shops lining the garden and stop for an artful café at local favorite, Café Kitsuné.
2) Rue Crémieux
Pastels in Paris? Groundbreaking! This candy-colored lane makes its home in the 12th arrondissement, though it might look more natural in central London than in Paris’ Bastille neighborhood.
3) Jardin des Tuileries
I love taking pictures of the stately French gardens, particularly in the fall when the poplar leaves are bright yellow. This is also one of my favorites spots for an unusual view of the Eiffel Tower.
4) Le Clos Montmartre
The streets of Montmartre have welcomed poets, artists, writers, and lovers for centuries, so it makes sense that the lone operational vineyard in Paris proper is tucked away on Montmartre’s hills and twisting, cobbled lanes. The vineyard is only open to the public for a few weeks during the harvest, but the vines are there year-round to be marveled at and to lend inspiration. Who knows? Maybe they’ll spark your next Great American Novel. At the very least, you’ll get an awesome picture that shows you’re in the know.
5) Paris’ Sinking House
Speaking of being in the know, here’s one that will leave your followers scratching their heads. As you might have guessed, the house isn’t actually sinking into the ground, and it’s not an avant-garde art installation. It’s an optical illusion.
Here’s how you get the shot: climb the steps to Sacre Coeur, and at the last flight of steps, walk to the middle of the hill. The house is on the right when facing the Basilica. Take a picture of the house including some grassy hillside, and then tilt the image so that the angle of the hill looks level. Et voilà!
6) Jardin du Luxembourg
The 400-year-old Luxembourg Gardens, situated in the classically Parisian 6th arrondissement, are my favorite gardens in central Paris. The tree-lined walkways are gorgeous in spring and fall, and I love taking a moment to recline in those green park chairs and watch the children race boats around the fountain. It’s a perfect reading spot. The garden also offers plenty of photo ops, including in front of the Musée du Luxembourg, where a young Ernest Hemingway spent hours learning about “the work” and trying to forget how hungry he was.
7) Paris’ Secret Passageways
No, I don’t mean the catacombs. Paris is home to a network of 19th-century covered galleries built to protect shoppers and diners from Paris’ frequent cold, rainy days in the winter and early spring. While only 18 of the original 150 passages remain, they are still a great place to take refuge and explore when the weather is particularly miserable. My favorites are the elegant and upscale Galerie Vivienne and the bustling market that is Passages des Panoramas. Be sure to capture a bit of these living time capsules unique to Paris.
8) Pink Mamma
Pink Mamma has garnered lots of attention in the Parisian blogosphere recently as the new, hip, Italian restaurant to see and be seen. And while I would encourage taking a shot of the beautifully plated pastas, charcuterie, and pizzas – yes, it’s all delicious – don’t miss the beautiful interior design. If you can, make a trip to the top floor for a beautiful view out the greenery-framed skylight and picture windows.
9) Canal St. Martin
Forget the Seine. Instead, take a romantic stroll with your sweetheart along the Canal St. Martin. The canal is the center of young Parisian life, and is home to bohemian rum bars, independent designers, organic wine sellers, bookstores, hip tapas restaurants, and the best bakery in all Paris. I would suggest booking your Airbnb along the Canal, especially if you want to experience some authentic Parisian nightlife. Do as the French models do and strike a pose on one of the many bridges over the canal – trés chic.
10) En terrasse
For another cool-French-girl pose, get a shot at one of those darling outdoor cafe tables facing the street, glass of wine and book in hand. There – you look so at home with the French lifestyle! My favorite breakfast spot is perfect for this look, and it comes with a bonus. Le Saint-Régis on the Ile Saint-Louis serves a lovely French breakfast with top-notch, fresh baguettes to get your morning started. The historic cafe also happens to be right across a bridge from the back of Notre Dame cathedral, which makes a beautiful and unusual shot of the iconic church.
Paris is one of my favorite places in the world. The key to enjoying it is to make it your own. Don’t do exactly as some tour guide tells you. It is a wonderful city to explore, to drink in slowly, and to take with you. I do that by taking pictures of cool, lesser-known sights that share a glimpse of modern-day life in a real city. I hope this inspires you to go find your own piece of Paris. If you already have, please share your favorite Instagram moments down below!