Paris – the global epicenter of love and lights! Enjoying the beauty of such a classic city has always been easy, capturing it on film is rather harder.

Fortunately, we had Fotolia’s French Manager on hand to advise us where the l’essence du Paris lies…

Fotolia: What, in your opinion, defines Paris – and where in the city truly captures this?

Paris streetFrance: There is no other city in the world like Paris. It is famous for its style, elegance, and, of course, its chic. Every street in the city embodies these elements, and that’s why those visiting the city quickly come to feel Parisian.

The best way to get a sense of Paris is to simply be there: sit in one of the many cafés or bistros with a beer and do some people watching. This gives you time to absorb the city and get a sense of the inhabitants and how they differ from people anywhere else in the world. Ignore the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas and engage with the Parisian sense of belonging.

Café de Flore is one of the most famous bars in the city for people watching. Beautifully decorated, Café de Flore has hosted its fair share of famous visitors, including Picasso; but all of them were inspired by their surroundings.

Café Le Nemours, between the Musée du Louvre, the Comédie Française and the Conseil d’État is another great location: whether you’re basking outside in the sun or watching the rain beating down from inside, it makes one feel intrinsically Parisian; a place to see and be seen!

Fo: Where in Paris has the most magnificent view of the city?

Fr: I can think of two very obvious places – and one more unusual.

Eiffel TowerFirst, the Eiffel Tower. It not only has that incredible view from the top but retains the ability to make even the most cynical traveler gasp when they see it. It’s a sight so familiar from photographs and pictures, but viewing seeing the reality really strikes a chord.

The Sacre Coeur also has a hilltop view over the whole of Paris, and you’re spoilt for choice: gaze at the city from this magnificent vantage point high above it or turn around and marvel at the stunning architecture of this 19th century church.

Both are equally impressive.
The Arc de Triomphe has a lift to whisk you to the top of this impressive monument; however, even more spectacular is the view from the top.

Arc de Triomphe at dusk, Paris

For a real perspective on Paris, a trip to the Centre Pompidou is a necessity. You can lose a whole day there taking in the many exhibitions and galleries, but the building’s top floor restaurant also boasts an impressive view of the Eiffel Tower soaring above the city, with the Sacre Coeur a magnificent guardian sat atop it.

If you can, go and see this view at night, to appreciate why Paris is called ‘The City of Lights’.

Fo: If someone wants to admire Paris’s artistic and creative side where would you suggest visiting?

Fr: Where to begin!? Paris has a vast array of galleries showcasing the many artists who became captivated with the city.

The Louvre, home of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper (amongst other world-famous works), is the most obvious suggestion; however, it’s one of the biggest museums in the world, so unless you want to spend a whole day there a little bit of planning is recommended in order to see everything you want.

The Musee D’Orsay is predominantly an exhibition of French work, and houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, including those by Monet, Van Gogh, Sisley, and Renoir. It’s located in the old Gare d’Orsay railway station – a building whose beauty matches that of the works it houses.

The Pompidou cultural center in Paris

If you prefer a more contemporary approach, the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris offers an exciting array of over 8,000 modern works. These span the entire 20th century, alongside other temporary exhibitions from a host of well-known and developing contemporary artists.

Fo: Where in Paris can one see some less stereotypically Parisian sites?

Fr: The Marais district has, in recent years, become more popular with tourists, yet it still maintains the ‘edge’ which differentiates it from the rest of Paris.

The buildings are a great example of pre-revolutionary architecture, preserving the narrow and cobbled streets. Juxtaposed with these traditional elements in the Marais are the trendsetting artwork, shops, and bars that have now established it as one of the coolest places to be. There is graffiti on almost every street, reaffirming the creativity and artistic essence of Paris.

Les Berges is an ideal place to relax and contemplate everything you’ve seen in the city, particularly if you are visiting in the spring or summer months. The newly pedestrianized waterfront spans the Left Bank from the Pont de l’Alma to the Musee d’Orsay.

It was created as a place for people of all ages to go and unwind, and is a perfect spot to digest the beauty of Paris – whether in the skate park, on a ‘floating island’ or just one of the loungers.

Fo: Sacrebleu, mes amis! How can you say no to an invitation like that?

See where you’re going, see where you’ve been – or perhaps even see where you live, with our special Lightbox of exquisite Parisian images.

And don’t forget – your images of Paris could earn you money – submit them to Fotolia today!