It’s always good to plan in advance if photography is one of the main focuses of your travels. But it’s often difficult to hit the ground running (or, photographing, so to say) when you haven’t been inspired by your destination yet.
Use this guide as your pre-trip inspiration. You’ll know exactly what photos you want to take on your next trip to France in no time.
The City of Light is one of the most-photographed places in the world, so the key to creating memorable photos is finding a way to make them original. Keep an eye out for new angles on old classics, scenes or moments that stand out, and details that others might miss. But, of course, make sure you snag a few of the traditional shots as well. It wouldn’t be a trip to Paris without a few too many photos of the Eiffel Tower, now would it?
Throughout the month of July, the region of Provence is painted a gorgeous shade of purple as the lavender fields come into full bloom. The lavender season typically only lasts from the end of June to the beginning of August, when the plant is harvested, so timing is essential. The best time to catch the fields in bloom is early July, depending on the rainfall that year. And, if you’re up for an entirely lavender-themed trip, head to Valensole, a small town that hosts lavender festivals in both July and August. You can even take lavender-themed tours organized by the local tourism board.
Food & Wine
The French take great pride in their food and wine, so it’s only logical that you’ll want to capture the gastronomic element of your trip to France, too. Be sure to take some shots highlighting the unique French cuisine, but also try to frame some shots that show off your location as well. Picnics in Parisian parks, dinner in small French towns, or wine by the Eiffel Tower — capture your location and your meal all at once!
The French countryside is dotted with small towns. Amiens, Annecy, Chamonix, Cluny, Dinan, Eze, Gordes, Lille, Peillon, Rochefort-en-Terre, Rouen, Usson — there’s likely a small French town for every letter of the alphabet, and each is as picturesque as the next. These towns may not feature sights like the Eiffel Tower, but what they lack in well-known landmarks they make up for in photographic possibility. Add a few days to your itinerary and challenge yourself to capture the essence of daily life in these small towns in your photos.
The Eiffel Tower
One of the most iconic sights in Europe, not to mention the world, the Eiffel Tower is a stunning feat of architecture and a must-photograph during your visit to Paris. To avoid the throngs of tourists, visit early on a Sunday morning. You’ll have it all to yourself! For dramatic upward views of the tower, shoot from the Champ de Mars: you can even disguise the structure by shooting through tree branches. Snap some fascinating shots by positioning your camera in between the holes of the protective fence as you climb the stairs to reach the top. And, don’t forget you’re in the City of Light: the Eiffel Tower is stunning when lit up at night!
From its sprawling courtyard to its infamous glass double pyramids, the Louvre is lovely. Use the glass of the pyramids to your advantage: try to capture the reflected images of the exterior for a unique shot. For another interesting photo, juxtapose the flowing fountain water against the stillness of the structures. A long exposure shot will provide good variety in texture. Don’t forget to visit the Louvre after dark, too! The pyramids will be lit to perfection and will give photographers the opportunity to practice taking pictures at night.
From the dazzling Hall of Mirrors to the chateau’s impressive facade to the enchantingly designed gardens, Versailles is the perfect location to snap a stunning shot. Play with reflection, light, and gold accents in the Hall of Mirrors, using the symmetry and gilt to your advantage. Opt for a wide angle lens to capture the majesty of Versailles’ sprawling exterior, or photograph its swirling garden hedges, instead. Wherever you go in this legendary palace complex, you’ll be sure to get a gorgeous shot.
Mont St. Michel
This unique island city is the perfect subject, as it constantly changes looks due to the changing tides that envelop it. Visit at various points during the day to capture the water level. Be sure to photograph with a wide angle lens so that you can see how remote the island is. Arrive early in the morning and right before dusk to capture the island in its best light! If you’re lucky, you’ll also get some cotton-candy colored skies as a backdrop.
Loire Valley castles
Located along the Loire River in central France, the Loire Valley is home to over 300 chateaux. The River Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is known for its abundance of vineyards and fruit orchards. Most of the chateaux are privately owned, which means you’ll likely have to look on from afar. Make sure to do your research ahead of time — book a tour or plan out a driving itinerary based on which castles you want to photograph most. And remember, sunrise and sunset are always stunning times to photograph.
Nice & French Riviera
Nice and the French Riviera were meant to be photographed. Snap the most obvious scenes: the gorgeous blue water and the colorful seaside buildings, lined with boats and palms. But take your camera through the winding streets, as well. The markets and cafés you find there will be just as photogenic. If you can, climb to a point a little above the beach and photograph the colorful patterns you see composed of beach umbrellas, towels, and swimsuits.