Advice on travel to Paris?

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by JWMster, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. JWMster

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    Would appreciate any help or source of help you might recommend in terms of guiding an amateur photographer visiting Paris in early September? I've hired photography guides before when traveling, and it's been "okay". Better and more interesting at the beginning of a trip to get me in the mood than I might have managed without. Would like some good advice, either a suggested person or photography guidebook - if such a thing exists. Travel agent had a suggestion that is more of a digital class (led by a group of photographers that refer to themselves as "Aperture": Dead Link Removed), I'm sure they're good or better than the folks I've worked with before, but since 90% of what I'm shooting is analog again these days, and don't really want to spend time on "white balance", I'm not sure that group is my cup of tea. Help appreciated. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  2. Sirius Glass

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    We stayed at the Westin Vendome [near Place de la Concorde], paid for an Eiffel tower view and well located. The rooms, typical of Paris, are small but very worth the price. It is near Place de la Concorde, Place Vendome, Tuileries Garden, the Louvre, Ile de Cite, Musée d'Orsay, Sainte-Chapell,... . It is a short walk to many sights and museums. Also about a block from the Metro. Take more film and batteries than you think you will need.
    • Buy the multi-museum and monument pass to avoid the lines and save money [Covers the Louvre, Versailles, Fontainebleau, ... and much more but not the Eiffel Tower].
    • Buy the Eiffel Tower tickets [Search: Skip the Line + Eiffel] are separate from the other passes and should be purchased in advance to avoid very long lines and get a reservation time.
    • Take a tripod for night photographs at night, especially the Eiffel Tower.
    • Virtually everyone speaks English and is very friendly. If necessary use the Google Translate app on your cell phone to translate for you.
    • Visit Chartres
    For Europe you need a normal and at least one wide angle lens ==> 24mm or 28mm and 50mm for 35mm, 50mm and 80mm for 6x6.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  3. RattyMouse

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    One word: Wikitravel. I use Wikitravel (www.wikitravel.org) to research any place that I'm visiting. From that I make copious notes as well as study the map to plan my walking tours. This plus learning the transit system of any city is all that I need to cover a major city like Paris.

    Paris is a walkers delight. I went there with just a 28 and 35mm lens. Came back very happy with the results.
     
  4. mooseontheloose

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    For a city like Paris, I don't think you need a guide. The city is so photogenic - just pick an area and go! The first time I went to Paris, I was really overwhelmed. I didn't know how to take a picture there - it seemed to me in that moment that the city had been photographed to death - what could I possibly offer that was new? It took about half a day before I was able to take my first picture - at that point I was like, "just shoot something, anything!" Then I couldn't stop. When I plan trips with photography in mind, I spend a lot of time looking through Google images, which often introduces me to new areas or interesting sites I wouldn't have thought of. I also Google specific things I'm interested in, like "Paris + night/Eiffel Tower/etc" so I can get an idea of what things will look like, and from what angles. Or, like the tour you listed above, I look at what photo tours do and use that for inspiration. In my experience, I have found it hard to find guides that know what photographers want, or photo tours that just focus on the photography, without the "learning how to use your camera" bit, so I do it myself.
     
  5. Kino

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    One word of caution; when the signs say "beware of pickpockets", pay attention!

    A friend just returned from Paris this week and he had his wallet lifted from a front coat pocket. The year before, also in Paris, he had a DSLR dipped from a bag kept open for easy access.

    Just saying...
     
  6. OP
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    JWMster

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    I've seen the photos taken of "old Paris" in the 1880's or 1890's as the redevelopment began. I aspire to some of the Belle Epoch... iron work, and beautiful simple buildings. I think you're right... but getting some key places to go is a start. In London, we met the "guide" at London City Hall... the new one, and we toured a lot of the new city that Prince Philip hates. Would probably NEVER have gone there, but got some very good pictures as a result. Very modern architecture. Looking forward ....with Paris, to visiting the opposite. So a little research... will do.

    Sirius: Yes, thanks for Chartres... my very favorite French cathedral. Everyone's in fact. Forgot about that one.

    Kino: Thanks! Will beware. Does anyone know whether they prefer contemporary cameras and leave the "film cameras" for the dogs? Love to hear that, too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  7. jnanian

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  8. OP
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    JWMster

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    Back in my day, that's parachute cord. Strong stuff. Have to look into it. I'm a monopod first kind of guy, tripod where I need to leave the camera sitting (scripted landscape shots).
     
  9. jnanian

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    glad it might be some help ... parachute cord is a lot more portable than a metal rod :smile:
     
  10. NB23

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    Start at the Arc de Triomphe, walk down to the tuileries (that big wheel you’ll see), the theough the tuileries you’ll meet the louvre.

    From the Louvre, go across the Seine over the Pont des Arts, the. Walk all the way to Notre-Dame-de-Paris cathedral. Have a coffee and a bite at le Depart St-Michel, and then continue walking to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

    Plan 10-15 films and a whole day for that slow and enchanting walk.

    Repeat the next day.
     
  11. OP
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    JWMster

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    NB23: Sounds delightful. Thanks!
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

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    Take a look for some inspiration at my blog - I was in Paris in 2015 and shot probably 40 rolls of 120 through a Rolleiflex. http://dcphotoartist.com and do a search on Paris... I was mostly confined to the touristy areas because I was traveling with my dad who was 76 at the time of the trip. There's a TON of inspirational material out there if you just keep your eyes open as you wander. The places I went to include:

    • The town and the palace of Versailles
    • The Louvre Museum
    • The Opera Garnier
    • The royal chapel at Sainte-Chapelle (on the same island in the Seine as Notre Dame cathedral)
    • Notre Dame Cathedral
    • The Rive Gauche
    • The Pompidou Centre
    • Centre Iris - a photography gallery and education center not far from the Pompidou
    • The Musee D'Orsay (19th century to contemporary art - technically affiliated with the Louvre, whose collections stop at the mid-19th century)
    • The Maison Europienne de la Photographie (when I was there it had the gigantic Salgado exhibit up, taking up most of the museum)
    • The Eiffel Tower
    I rode the subway to get around all the places I went. It's convenient, fast, and inexpensive. Food? It takes some work to find a bad place to eat in France - I think the single best hot dog I ever had was in the railway station at Chalon-sur-Saone in the snack bar - a baguette sliced, with dijon mustard, the hot dog, and topped with gruyere cheese. While you're out wandering, lunch in the dining room at the Musee D'Orsay is phenomenal and a reasonable deal to boot. My dad and I got an apartment on the Ile St. Louis (the other island in the Seine behind Notre Dame) through VRBO, and most evenings walked out and just grabbed something at one of the restaurants on Rue Ile St. Louis, and never once had a bad meal.
     
  13. OP
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    JWMster

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    Scott (?): Thanks for sharing this. Went to your blog... TRAVEL, France (Color and B&W). Are these all with a Rolleiflex? VERY good work, btw. Lovin' that! Thanks for sharing something of your favorite places. Had you been there before? This will be my first time. 40 rolls of film? Did you ship it over or back? or carry it with you?

    FWIW, sure wish I'd been able to travel with my Dad at the same age! Ah... what a thought. And I can bet yours knew he was a lucky guy to be traveling with you! What a memory. Thank you for this.
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
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  15. Helios 1984

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    To your list I will add:
    • Le Jardin des Tuileries (Which is the only thing left of the Tuileries Palace)
    • Le Pont Alexandre III
    • L'Obelisque de Louxor
    • Les Invalides
    • Place Igor Stravinsky (Next to the Pompidou Centre)
    • Place de la Bastille
     
  16. Peter Schrager

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    Sit in a cafe...have a coffee or apertif...
    Watch the people go by...
     
  17. Chrismat

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    I was in Paris for a few days last September, I can't really give much better advice than what has already been posted, but Sirius Glass mentioned going to Chartres, and I second that. Chartres Cathedral is incredible. There is also La Maison Picassiette in Chartres, but I wasn't able to check that out. Hopefully next time.
     
  18. Sirius Glass

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    The royal chapel at Sainte-Chapelle (on the same island in the Seine as Notre Dame cathedral) is hidden. You have to look around and ask, but well worth it if you go to the second floor.
     
  19. michiel fokkema

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    I go to Paris twice a year to photograph and have a few walks for you which might be of interest.

    This is the walk I start with when guiding other people. It shows some of the landmarks in Paris but also a bit of the beaten track. It ends at the 400 year old Marche de enfants Rouge where you can have a bite and a drink in a very special atmosphere. You can also divert to the Place des Vosges.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1J79rHu1VyNfvkbhcBbww_N5kp_0&usp=sharing

    Along the Canal st. Martin
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RjCM6kdc3IyiR2a9M_sJQNaR1V0&usp=sharing

    The fleamarkets in the North. Best day to go is on Sunday but hey are also open on Saturday and Monday.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1aNlfwPXLNRS9XlNdQvjLejZAjWM&usp=sharing

    This one starts in rue Mouffetard. An old market street that has a very local atmosphere. It ends in the Marais and Place de Vosges
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Nz_fyOeOM77bmaaQASCoK4SrqhY&usp=sharing

    A walk in Montmartre. The cemetery is not so famous as Pere La Chaise but is as good and probably more scenic because of the height differences.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NGN9hkHqAELeqTmOOT8s85ywwvU&usp=sharing

    A walk through Menilmontant, Willy Ronis' preferred neighbourhood, although a lot has changed since then.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-c9vrTnpWCugjQ_lVaK9dwgVD5s&usp=sharing

    Here are some of my favourite restaurants
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1PxWaepLFZ6sL_CuAEKnhk3Qly4Y&usp=sharing

    Hope this helps.
     
  20. halfaman

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    If you are a bit of a mythomaniac you can't miss Père-Lachaise cementery. Callas, Chopin, Morrison, Balzac, Moliere, Proust, Wilde...
     
  21. mooseontheloose

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    All of the big "4" cemeteries have their fair share of notable internments. For photographic history, Montparnasse cemetery is the final resting place of Man Ray and Brassai, and somewhat adjacent to photography, Susan Sontag. But others like de Beauvoir and Sartre, Baudelaire, Dreyfus, de Maupassant are a few well-known people buried there too. Montmartre, already listed above, is my personal favourite of the four, not only for the landscaping, but because it's not nearly as touristed as either Pere Lachaise or Montparnasse. Some notables there are Berlioz, Degas, Offenbach, Sax (yes, the guy who invented the sax was named sax), and Zola. The smallest of the four, Passy, is literally across the road from the Trocadero (where you get your iconic shots of the Eiffel Tower). It's the least visited, but is still quite interesting. Now, as someone who enjoys going to and photographing cemeteries, I know that most people are not interested in them, however, they are literally outdoor museums to the past with some stunning art in them - although most of the famous people have very normal, understated graves not worth photographing (other than as a memorial).

    Most of the places listed in this thread are well-known touristed areas of the city. You really can't go wrong by going to see some of these places, and then just wander. The entire city is photogenic, and the further you get from the centre, the more "local" and less touristed it will become.
     
  22. NB23

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    Man, just avoid Barbes at all cost. Barbès, the Metro station and I’d say 500 meter radius.
    No camera there unless you want to be in danger.

    I once got into trouble for taking a shot of the metro. It could have become extremely dangerous. One muslim extremist zealot started asking me why I took his photo and I was soon surrounded by 10 of his likes.

    Just don’t go there. Or hide your camera.
     
  23. TheFlyingCamera

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    Yes, it's Scott. Glad you liked the photos. Yes, all were shot with a Rollei 2.8E. I hand-carried all my film with me on the plane. I didn't know how much I'd be shooting, so I brought overkill with me - I had something like 100 rolls of film in my bag, between the Tri-X, Ektar, Portra 400 and Portra 800, and some FP4+. The only thing I didn't need to bring was the FP4+. It was my first time in Paris as a photographer, and as an adult. I was there for about 2 days when I was a teenager, so I was essentially seeing it for the first time.
     
  24. TheFlyingCamera

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    When I was there it was clearly marked out with signs - not Vegas-grade blinking neon "Enter Here" signs, but easy enough to find. To enter, you have to pass through the Palace de Justice so you get a serious security screening.
     
  25. wiltw

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    Chartres has a light festival at night during summer months.
     
  26. bvy

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    I was there just over a week ago. We spent a considerable amount of time looking for Jim Morrison before we realized there was more than one notable cemetery in Paris. We couldn't find Man Ray or Brassai (it was now almost closing time and we didn't try very hard) but we did stumble over Saint-Saens. I'm a mathematician by education and there are a number of notables in the field buried there. Poincare comes to mind.

    A few other thoughts on Paris: SUPER easy to get around on the Metro and RER trains. I bought a three day pass and had carte blanche. If you're up for it, explore the Eiffel Tower by stairs. Lots of great vantage points along the way with no real crowds, and you save a few (Euro)bucks. Up and down the Champs-Elysees (between the Arc and giant wheel) is great for people watching. I found the most excellent Italian restaurant right off of it -- Le Carpaccio (not "Il" because there's that too). But then again there's no shortage of restaurants. Also, most everyone speaks English -- except the Uber drivers. Fortunately, I had enough French in me to navigate and order food.

    I don't like to generalize, but I will admit I was prepared to find the French a bit standoffish based on everything I've heard over the years. And the first few days there, that confirmation bias started to set in. But let it go. The French can be direct, but engage them a little and you'll make friends quickly.
     
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