When you come to Paris, there is quite a lot to see, and choosing what to visit can be hard. If you are the kind of person who likes climbing lots of stairs, walking around in little paved streets, or even if you just want to have a good panorama of the city, I’d recommend heading towards Montmartre.
This hill – the highest in Paris – used to be an artists’ nest before 1920, for instance, Renoir, Modigliani and Picasso lived there at one point of their lives. Nowadays it has became somewhat different, and the district can be divided in two distinct parts.
First you’ve got the touristy part, around the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. Often crowded with an army of selfie people on the steps, plastic souvenirs and portrait sketching at the place du Tertre, this area yet offers a great sight on the entire city (except for the western part, where the Eiffel Tower is). I used to come often to Montmartre, especially when there was some action in the sky. Here is a little hint for you if you want to take panoramas. When you don’t have a wide enough lens, just try taking several pictures and cover the whole area you want to frame. Then it’s fairly easy to stitch you images together (the software Image Compositor Editor does it well, and for free). I used this particular technique for the following picture, stitching two pictures together.
Once you’re up top, you can either admire the view, walk around or even visit the Basilica, it’s free and you don’t have to wait to go in, which is nice. It is forbidden to take pictures inside, but you know, sometimes when you see a good framing and good light, it’s hard to resist 🙂 I took the quietness of the place into consideration and switched my camera to silent mode, then I quickly adjusted my settings, framed and took the shot, the whole process took a second or two.
By the way don’t follow my example, go ahead and take picture of the Basilica from the outside, the monument itself is actually pleasing to the eye 😉
Now we had a little overview of what’s going around the Sacré-Coeur, it’s time to move to my favorite side of Montmartre : the other side ! With plenty of tiny paved street, stairs, and all sorts of quiet places, the best way to discover the hill consists in just getting lost. Wander around until you see something appealing, go there and repeat this process as many times as possible. One thing I do some times is walk around, and get back every time at the exact same spot using every itinerary available.
For instance, that same cloudy, stormy evening, I went back and forth to this restaurant called La Maison Rose. Every single time I was there the light had changed, as well as my ideas on how to frame it. I tried different point of views, climbed on a wall across the street, waited a lot so that no one’s in the frame, but luckily two guys came running up the hill completed it..
Now I had this picture, and the feeling of fulfillment coming along with it, I decided I had gotten the most I could get from this location for the night. However when you like taking pictures as I do you just can’t give up on a good light, so while walking back to my place I quickly grabbed this one last shot.
It was a great evening, walking around and shooting, I am very happy about the pictures I got. Though the only one regret I have is that I wasn’t enough prepared, and forgot to switch a setting on my camera. this resulted in all my picture being shot as jpeg instead of RAW, for the whole session. I generally never shoot jpeg, because RAW is much more flexible when it comes to editing, but this situation taught me that often photography isn’t about the gear, but about finding the light and composing.