"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller


Top Ten Paris Photo Ops

gargoylenotredame1. The Bell Towers of Notre Dame Cathedral: Be in line by 9AM if you don’t want your elbows bumped by big crowds as you catch gargoyles contemplating the city’s skyline and devouring each other. ($)

2. Cour de Commerce Saint-Andre: This little side street off Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Pres is home to Paris’ first cafe Le Procope where Ben Franklin had lunch, Voltaire drank 40 cups of coffee a day, and a young Napoleon had to leave his hat in lieu of payment for a courdecommercesaintandremeal. The cobblestone pathway is also where Dr. Guillotin practiced his “humanitarian killing machine” on sheep, an invention made famous in its feminine name, la guillotine. Facing the old wooden toy store, turn around, and there is a door that opens onto the Cour Rohan, three of the most beautiful courtyards in Paris. Imagine the nobles and queens looking down from the ivy-covered windows to the cobblestones below, trying to ignore the screams of the sheep around the corner. Click away! (free)

3. Top of the Arc de Triomphe: Sunset over western Paris, La Grande Arche de la Defense, and the birthplace of the Sun King, Louis XIV. ($)

lesmarches4. Les Marches (The markets): Every neighborhood in Paris has a market which usually runs three days a week (ask around for the one near you). Parisians buy many of their produce and grocery items at these street markets which seem to burst at the seems with stinky cheeses, flowers from the south of France, ripe olives in their oil, fresh baguettes, wines to taste, courgettes from the countryside, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries- let your camera tell the rest of the story. (free)

lescatacombs5. The Catacombs: Got a gothic side? A creepy leaning? An eerie inkling? Go down to the catacombs where the bones of over seven million humans are arranged by type, not owner, and often artistically. You will find hearts, crosses, and other designs which photograph well and make exceptionally nice Valentine’s Day cards. While you are waiting for your flash to recharge in the dark deep below the city, think about the wild parties thrown here during the French Revolution or the Resistance fighters who held secret meetings during the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II. Snap! ($)

laperelachaise6. Pere Lachaise Cemetery: More sculpture garden than graveyard, Pere Lachaise has heaps of crumbling tombs, sad-eyed statues, winding paths into the darkness and fallen tombs. (free)

7. Pont de la Concorde: From this bridge you can see most of the major monuments of Paris: the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, La Madeleine, the National Assembly, the Louvre, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. Built from the ruined stones of the infamous Bastille prison (so that free men and women can forever trample on the vestiges of tyranny), this bridge is the perfect place to get oriented with the layout of the city. Go at sunset, when the falling light turns Paris pink and the lights along the river Seine slowly start to sparkle. (free)

8. Pont Neuf: Pont Neuf: This bridge whose name means “new bridge” is actually the oldest in the city, the first to be built without any houses on it. It is studded with mascarons, or ghoulish faces, and its’ gothic 

pontneufarches stretch across the Ile de la Cite and the river Seine. Take the steps down below to get great shots of the bridge with Paris peeking through its arches. Students like to congregate here at night for picnics and it a great place to make friends, meet people, and share some wine. (free)

9. Tour Montparnasse: This ugly, modern skyscraper in the middle of Montparnasse is disliked by Parisians so much that they have banned any other skyscrapers in the city. But the elevator (the fastest one in Europe) flings you up to the top of Tower. ($)

10. Musée Carnavalet: Paris’ history museum, located in the Marais and of great interest to French history nerds like me. The draw for photographers however is the inner courtyard of this centuries-old mansion whose neoclassical architecture is almost completely covered in red and green ivies. Take a seat by the giant rosebushes, and take some pics! (free)