Some locations dominate our Instagram feeds. They’re beautiful, but often overlooked since we see them all the time and naively believe we already know everything about them.

Photographer Loïc Lagarde shows us five Instagram hot spots around France, and we tell you what the photos won’t.

VALENSOLE, FRANCE

France is famous for its fields of purple lavender. They can be found in Valensole, a small village situated on a plateau in the southeastern corner of the country. Lavender is fragrant, so the scent of this area is particularly intoxicating.

Loïc was intrigued by the evanescent nature of this region’s colorful beauty and by the dreamy, infinite pattern of the fields. The nearby town holds lavender festivals in both July and August, though the best time to catch the fields in full bloom is early or mid-July.

The lavender grown in these fields is used to produce honey, essential oils, soaps, and various foods. Valensole has at least 300 days of sunshine a year, which makes it photogenic in the summer. The local tourism board even organizes tours through the fields for those who need help planning their route.

THE LOUVRE, PARIS

This Parisian museum is the largest in the world, as well as a central landmark in the city’s 1st arrondissement. Though most recognize the museum by its glass pyramid and the famously stoic Mona Lisa, the building itself is actually older than both.

The Louvre Palace was originally a fortress, built in the late 12th century for defensive purposes until it was converted into a royal residencyin 1546. Then, during the French Revolution, it was decreed that the building would display the nation’s masterpieces, and it has housed works of art and sculptures ever since.   

The museum’s collection is extensive, to say the least — it boasts approximately 38,000 objects, divided into eight different departments. The Louvre can get very crowded, but Loïc admits that, when you have it to yourself, it becomes quite romantic and shows an entirely different, intimate side.

MONT SAINT-MICHEL, FRANCE

Mont Saint-Michel is an island in the Normandy region. It is home to a massive population of 44 people and hundreds of sheep.

The island city was founded as a strategic fortification that used the tide to its advantage, cutting off access to unwanted visitors. The town, which takes its name from the nearby monastery, is structured to mimic that of a feudal society — with God (the abbey and monastery) at the highest point and everything else in descending order of importance.

Loïc finds it a perfect place for his compositions, and painstakingly searches for just the right spot and the perfect light for unique photos.

THE EIFFEL TOWER, PARIS

Everyone is familiar with the wrought-iron, lattice tower that has become the symbol of the City of Love. It wasn’t always iconic though — in the late 1800s, when the Tower was built, it was criticized by artists and intellectuals who found its design quite ugly.

Built for the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest structure in the world, a title it held for nearly 41 years until it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building in New York City. It stands 1,063 feet tall (324 meters) and has eight elevators that shuffle over six million people per year to and from the top.

As one of the most recognizable structures in the world, it can be difficult to find a unique way to photograph it — but Loïc had this particular shot in mind before he even saw the Tower in person. It’s a point of view that is refreshingly original.

 

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STRASBOURG, FRANCE

This enchanting destination may look as though it’s the real-life inspiration for “Beauty and the Beast,” but it’s also the official seat of the European Parliament. Its historic center has survived numerous wars and foreign occupations, and some of the architecture evokes the style of Germany’s city centers, which is not surprising, as Strasbourg is only a 10-minute drive from the German border.

Strasbourg occupies the past and the future —  historic buildings and old, charming streets are frequented by modern politicians commuting to work. Loïc wanted to make Strasbourg look dreamy, and was up at dawn to catch the mirrored image in the gloomy light of morning.

See more of Loïc’s photography on Instagram.

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