Paris Tips: Gorgeous Backdrops for Photo ops

L’heure bleue (Twilight) at the Moulin Rouge Photos by Theadora Brack

The hills are alive at Sacré Coeur

By Theadora Brack

Grab the camera phones and bucket lists, and let’s shoot the city like there’s no tomorrow. Here’s a slew of my favorite iconic backdrops for photo ops, picture-perfect for your darling social media portraits and status updates, too.

Celebrating photographers Robert Doisneau and Robert Capa (who often featured France’s national moments in their haute couture spreads), I’ve meshed the old with the new, fully appreciating the dynamic, overlapping, ever-changing juxtapositions.

So with Rolleiflex firmly in hand, let’s snap, crackle, pop. Giddy up!

1. Sacré Coeur
Metro: Anvers or Abbesses

18th arrondissement

Avoid the crowds by making your entrance at Sacré Coeur early in the morning. Blue skies flatter the iridescent basilica, though she also radiates at twilight. For inspiration, climb Brassaï’s Les Escaliers de Montmartre, nestled next to the funicular on Rue Foyatier. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the pair of “living sculptures.” Wearing white and mimicking Roman statues, they’ll strike a pose with you if you toss a few coins their way. They’re super friendly.

Up on the roof at Galeries Lafayette

2. Galeries Lafayette
Metro: Saint-Lazare, 9th arrondissement

When it comes to classic French backdrops, it’s all about the view and location, location, location. Lucky for all, Galeries Lafayette’s rooftop boasts both.

Here you’ll find one of my favorite views of Paris. A triple-threat photo op, so shine on with the Tour Eiffel, the Opéra Garnier, and Sacré Coeur. Tip: Avoid crowds by arriving during the morning or after lunch.

3. Hôtel de Ville
Metro: Hôtel de Ville, 4th arrondissement

Calling all romantics, this one is for you. Here is Paris’s City Hall is where Robert Doisneau staged his legendary photograph, “Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville,” for LIFE magazine in 1950.

Lip-locking at Hôtel de Ville

Here’s the scoop! After spotting Françoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud smooching, he requested a little replay action for his camera, and the rest was kiss-tory in the making! Tip: There are often free exhibitions at the Hôtel de Ville. Also, unlike most museums, this one is usually open on Mondays. And yes, there’s a gift shop, too.

4. Moulin Rouge
Metro: Place Blanche, 18th arrondissement

Kick-off  your photo shoot at the Moulin Rouge around l’heure bleu (twilight). Located in Montmartre, you just might spot the spirit of writer Henry Valentine Miller on the literary prowl. An avid and competitive cyclist, he’d be quite happy with the new bike lanes in Pigalle!

Achy Breaky feet at the end of the day? Do like my Moulin Rouge dancer friends do after a long show. Prop your legs up against a door for twenty minutes. Elevation does the trick like no other. I’ve tried it!

Now strike a pose, there’s nothing to it!

39 thoughts on “Paris Tips: Gorgeous Backdrops for Photo ops

    • Thanks!! It’s one of my favorite nooks of paradise in Paris. It’s the perfect spot to recharge your spirit and action, sunsets, and non-stop people-watching. It’s also free! Theadora


    • Dear Tin Man! Where did you stay near the Moulin Rouge? In the Place Blanche area? Do you remember the name of your hotel? Did you like it? Any tips? Do spill! Theadora (Abbesses is my favorite neighborhood.)


    • Hello Rico! Did you catch a bite to eat in area? Any insider tips?! Theadora (I like the Pizzeria La Pignatta on the corner of rue des Abbesses and rue des Martyrs.)


    • Oh, SIGH. Rufus Wainwright’s “La Complainte De La Butte” is such a lovely song. I could listen to it again and again.
      Tino Rossi’s “Moulin Rouge” number is another weepie. He even hums! Theadora

      Moulin des amours
      Tu tournes tes ailes
      Au ciel des beaux jours
      Moulin des amours


      • Music to cry to…..We’re a funny species aren’t we?
        But sad songs are so much better than happy songs….
        I’d couldnt remember MR by Tino Rossi so just found it on youtube.. As soon as I heard the strings at the start it came flooding back..Lovely..


      • I agree! Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday are always in heavy rotation on my iPod.
        The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about the very subject: Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker: Why does Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ make everyone cry? Science has found the formula. NPR also featured a story.
        Here are the links:


      • Hi Theodora…..Crikey…I dont know if we’re better off for knowing all of that stuff or not???
        It’s a bit like finding out how the man in the cape cuts the pretty lady in half….
        But, I dont think we need to worry.. I think that the next time you fire up your ipod, and Billie whispers the opening words of ‘Dont Explain’, all memories of the science of appoggiaturas will be swept away…

        ‘ Hush now don’t explain
        What is there to gain?’

        Just listen to Billie..’Don’t explain’…no need for science…..It’s magic..


    • Well, thank you! I’ve been enjoying following your lens. I especially liked yesterday’s Miami shot of the rows of stanchions (bars) and the horizontally striped dress. Even the chains were in sync! Nice. Theadora


  1. Great pictures as always, Theadora! I love the Moulin Rouge one. In my few trips to Paris, that’s still one which I’ve never been to. I’ll make it my goal to visit that next time that I am in your lovely city. 😉


  2. Can’t believe I didn’t make it to Moulin Rouge during my one trip to Paris! But we were backpacking and had to save money. I guess I’ll have to go back. Beautiful pictures!


  3. S’marvelous, s’wonderful . . . I love how that couple on the rooftop looks like they are looking down into a canyon of buildings . . . and you can see so clearly, so deeply down into it. Amazing photography! The colors, the tonal range . . . How could you have done such a thing?


  4. I definitely love to visit Paris somedays. Paris is one of the darling cities I wanna visit with my hubby. Love your blog 🙂


  5. I’ve heard Maya, Pink, Christina, and Lil Kim singing about the Moulin Rouge and reading this post added info to what I already know about the place — from the song. 🙂


    • Thanks, Claudia! By the way, I’ve spent the day researching the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It’s a beauty! Interesting history! It’s now on my list. Maybe I’ll spot Montgomery Clift’s spirit in the Blossom Ball Room?! Theadora


      • Next time you are in LA, drop in for a drink late at night. That lobby is a microcosm of interesting people. Prince was caught playing an improptu show at 2 am….
        By the way, your photos are beautiful in a stark, real Paris way


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  7. Gorgeous, we love the idea of Paris from an insiders point of view, and your photos are amazing.


    • Thank you! The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is another another favorite iconic back drop. located by the Louvre, it’s the “Mini-Me” of the big Arc de Triomphe. And yes, Audrey Hepburn did strike a pose here in the “Funny Face” film! Cheers, Theadora


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