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a VirtualTourist member from Brookings


Advice on these locations in Paris?

Hey! In May I will be going to London, Paris, and Edinburgh for a 2 week photography study abroad tour with my best friend. We will be going to the following destinations:

Eiffel Tower (going all the way to the top!)
The Louvre
Notre Dame
Galleria Camera Obscura
Sacre Coeur

We'll only be in Paris for three days so my friend and I want to make the most of it! Let me know if you have any tips on these places or maybe if there are some other things to see around any of these sites that we could possibly stop by in transit to the other sites.

Thanks in advance for all your help! :)

19 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chula Vista


Eiffel Tower (- DEFINITELY
The Louvre - Yes but I spent a week there and didn't see all of it
Notre Dame - Yes get there early
Galleria Camera Obscura - I've passed all 4 times I've been there.
Sacre Coeur - Yes. Walk the steps up to get the full experience.

I'd add the Pantheon as well; not a long walk from Notre Dame. L'Opera is worth a look as well as a walk on Champs for the Arc (also the park across from Place de Concorde).

If museums are your interest Rodin and Picasso are must sees as well.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

Thanks for such valuable information, its gonna be really very helpful for me.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Makati

I believe 3 days is just right for you to see the places on your list at a leisurely pace. Be sure to devote an entire day for the Louvre. I'd also suggest an evening boat cruise along the Seine.

Have fun in Paris!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

If your main interest is photography spend some time in the Marais area where the shop fronts, cafes etc make good subjects.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi and a bit of a late welcome to Virtual Tourist. :O)

Paris is a wonderful city for a shutterbug; you'll find much too much to point a lens at! You will also be able to fit in everything on your list and more with a little pre-planning.

Eiffel Tower: I would suggest pre-ordering tickets to avoid wasting time in a long, long queue. This is, of course, Paris' biggest attraction so it's very busy! You may do that here:

And for that camera, one of the very best places to shoot the Eiffel at night is from the Trocadero. There is a metro stop very nearby.

Try to stretch some of your sightseeing time by using the evenings as well. I don't know the dates of your trip but the Louvre is open until 9:45 on Wed and Friday nights. You may also avoid the worst of the queues by using the Galerie du Carrousel, Passage Richelieu or Porte des Lions entrances and not the popular Pyramid entrance in the square.

And you may also preorder tickets to skip the queues (although you still need to go through a security check line):

Notre Dame is largely more impressive outside than in: bring a zoom for snapping the chimera and gargoyles!

Photos aren't allowed of the interior of the Sacre Coeur (and they're very strict about that) but it's best from the outside anyway. There tends to be a lot of aggressive street hawkers around the basilica (as well as other hot tourists spots) so watch your belongings here, and brush any who may bother you off with a firm "No!" and quick steps away.

Again for photos, you can get some great shots in the Paris cemeteries. The largest -Père Lachaise - is a metro ride to the eastern side of city but Montemarte is close to the Sacre Coeur so would be an easy visit as long as you'd be in the area anyway.

[original VT link]

But just walking about will turn up wonderful things for your lens and is a very good way to enjoy Paris. Do try to be up and about early in the mornings as that's often the best time of the day to get snaps without crowds in them.

You may want to take the metro now and again to save some time - as when you go the Sacre Coeur, or the Trocadero at night - so buy a carnet (booklet) of 10 tickets (12.70 euro) at one of the metro stations and share them with your friend.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New York City

When visiting Sacré-Coeur, be certain to go to the top of the basilica’s dome. You will find this a wonderful vantage point for photographing the city. You can assemble a group of photos, calling it “Above Paris” or “Looking Down on Paris”, taken from the top of la tour Eiffel and Sacré-Coeur.

Another “Above Paris” location are the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris. The Museum Pass can get to the front of any queue for these towers. You will also have a closer look at the gargoyles. These gargoyles are not original to the church; but were added in the 19th century during a preservation renovation.

When inside the Louvre, rather than focusing on the art, train your camera on the building itself. The decoration is fabulous. Look up at the ceilings. They are ornate and over-the-top with elaborate decoration. Get the Paris Museum Pass that will help you avoid the long queues to get inside.

Should you be blessed with sunny days, duck inside Sainte-Chapelle (again the Museum Pass will help you get in). The sun will illuminate the glorious stained-glass windows. What an opportunity to capture the jeweled-tone color of the windows.

Enjoy your visit to the City of Light. Once you have returned, perhaps you will consider creating a Paris tips page here at Virtual Tourist, sharing with us your views of Paris.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

"Another “Above Paris” location are the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris. The Museum Pass can get to the front of any queue for these towers"

Unfortunately that is not true, the towers are included on the museum pass but that is one of the places where you can not skip the queue (Saint Chappelle is another that you can't skip the security queue with the Pass). What we do is get in line before it opens, if you want to see the interior of the church, one person can hold the place in line, the other can go inside the church. Getting there a 1/2 hour early will probably save you an hour of wait time. But it is a fabulous place to get shots of Paris, the gargoyles (actually chimera or grotesques) with the backdrop of Paris are some of my favorite photos.

Another place that is on the Pass and is a fun place to take photos from is the Arc de Triomphe, from the top you can see the layout of Paris with all of the streets radiating out from the Arc. It is open from 10am-11pm (check the times) and with the pass you not only skip the queue but you can also visit more than once so you could do it at night and in the daylight for a contrast.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

Have a look at the Museum Pass, if you visit Notre Dame's towers, St. Chappelle, the Louvre, the Pantheon and the Arc de Triomphe for example, you'd save money with the pass and you'd skip the queues at the Arc and the Louvre, there was no line at the Pantheon when we went and the other two have security lines that can't be jumped. Going to the Louvre on the late night is a good idea since it's indoors and the light won't matter, I believe Kate (Goodfish) gave you the time and days.

During certain months you can visit the upper part of the Pantheon, the last time I was there in July my niece and I walked up, I think it's only with a guide but that's included in the cost of admission.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

I was going to pass along info on the Towers of Notre Dame in my earlier post but there's a complication there. From the website:

"Pay attention : due to works, access to South belfry and Emmanuel bell is closed from 26 november 2012 to 26 august 2013 ; the monument is closed 19 february to 10 march 2013, except week-ends and monday 25 february 2013."

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Solihull

Great views from the top of the Arc de Triomph and fantastic panorama shots from the Tour Montparnasse.
We were there in November - 22 euros to go up to the 58th floor but it was a great place to visit ON A DRY CLEAR DAY!
In my opinion, the most striking view of the Eiffel Tower can be had from the balcony of the Trocadero Centre. Day or night this is a breathtaking spot with or without a camera!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

Kate, can you post the link to where you are seeing that information? I'm not seeing it on the Notre Dame website and I'm interested as that's one of the things on my Paris list for this summer.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Sure thing, Kristi:

According to the Notre Dame website, this is the official vendor for visits to the towers:


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

Thanks Kate, oddly it doesn't mention it on the Notre Dame website. For the OP, I believe that the south belfry is the 2nd stage of the climb, I think it was closed on my last couple of visits. You can still visit the gallery of the chimera (that's the gargoyles) and still get the fabulous shots over Paris. The bell is located inside the tower, that is also a separate climb and is in the interior. So you wouldn't be able to get a shot of the bell but I think the best part is seeing the gargoyles and the view over Paris.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

Hey, Good pic. I would recommend to go and see Pompidou and Musée d'orsay. And Les Catacombes. Plus take a stroll in the Marais :) A lot of things to do. And buy tickets in advance for the eiffel tower and Louvre, doing that you can skip the cueues. Our hotel was great in helping us with that, plus gave us an app to use. would recommend it!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Peoria

I would definitely book online for the Eiffel Tower. Saves waiting a very long time! As for the Sacre Coeur, to get there I've found the easiest way is to take Metro line 12 to Abbesses and walk to the funicular to go up.


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Brookings

Thanks so much for all the advice! We're getting very excited for the trip. :)

I was wondering what the best plan of attack is for the Louvre. It's a very large place and I know we'll never see it all. I've heard everyone flocks to the Mona Lisa--I would have rather skipped that one myself, but my friend insists we can't go there and /not/ see it, so I know we'll do that, but I'm very interested in seeing Venus de Milo and more of the classical (Greek, Roman, Egyptian) art, etc.

Also, does anyone really know what the Gallerie Camera Obscura is? The people organizing the trip put it on the itinerary and I've been having a difficult time finding information on it. I know what a camera obscura is but I'm not sure what this gallery is all about? Any help is appreciated!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

Google "how to visit the Louvre" and you'll get a handful of sites that will give you ideas for how to tackle it. Seems to me when I took my niece a couple of years ago they a handout with the major items marked, I told her we could leave once we had seen the big things but that we had to at least see those

If you get a museum pass, you can break your visits into smaller pieces and go a couple of times for shorter periods of time.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Here is another really helpful floor-plan guide (English) for locating the pieces you wish to see. The museum is sectioned into wings, and besides the PDF I'm supplying here, there are free printed guides for each wing you may pick up in the central receiving area.

Mona is on the first floor (which in the U.S. would be the second floor) in the Denon Wing - you'll go right by Winged Victory in a stairway along the route to where she is. As she's one of the hottest attractions, I'd be at an entry before the museum opens and then make a beeline directly to her so as to get a glimpse before the crowd is very large. They have her roped off and kept at a distance so you won't be seeing her up close.

Venus de Milo is on the ground floor between the Sully and Denon wings.

By spending some time with the layout, you can make yourself a rough itinerary in advance.

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