The Eiffel Tower Photography Guide

 
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The Eiffel Tower Photo Guide

A hand-picked selection of best spots for capturing the Iron Lady

[10-minute read]

 
 

Isn’t it ironic that the symbol of a country best known for its art and fashion is an engineering feat? Constructed for a temporary exposition back in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was about to be destroyed soon after. But somehow, it remained standing and became one of the most unique and recognizable buildings in the world and the symbol of French ingenuity. 

Today, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid-for landmark in the world, with more than 7 million yearly visitors. It is also the most photographed one, attracting thousands of photographers to Paris in pursuit of that unique shot. Of course, on such saturated market achieving that is close to impossible, but there are many spots offering interesting perspectives that will help your photos stand out.

Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to visit the City of Light multiple times. In this article, we share our favorite spots and times of day to photograph the Eiffel Tower. 

 

 

Place du Trocadéro

Located just across the Seine to the northwest, Trocadéro Square offers the cleanest and most spectacular views of the Tower. The current layout dates from 1937 and consists of Palais de Chaillot, once the headquarters of NATO, and the garden area, known for its powerful fountain system, which unfortunately seems to be closed more often than not. Trocadéro is also known as a spot where Hitler was photographed after the surrender of France, which became one of the most iconic images of the Second World War. 

Leading to the Tower in perfect symmetry, the square is ideal for clean compositions and postcard photos. Furthermore, details like statues, beautiful marble floor, fountains and garden flowers provide endless opportunities to play around with perspectives. 

 
 
 Statues at Place du Trocadéro. [Samsung Galaxy S7 @ f/1.7, 1/850 s, ISO 50]

Statues at Place du Trocadéro. [Samsung Galaxy S7 @ f/1.7, 1/850 s, ISO 50]

 First morning light. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 35 mm, f/4, 1/500 s, ISO 100]

First morning light. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 35 mm, f/4, 1/500 s, ISO 100]

 
 
 

Of course, such a magnificent place is no secret to tourists, so expect to be surrounded by hundreds of selfie sticks and hustlers ruining your shots at any given moment of the day, especially after sunset when the Eiffel Tower light show starts. Therefore, your best option is to be there for sunrise, before the first tourist buses arrive. Your efforts will be rewarded with the whole square only for yourself and a few other photo enthusiasts. Also, as the Tower is located to the southeast, on clear mornings you might witness some spectacular colors in the sky. We recommend bringing along both a wide angle and a fast lens. 

  • Metro station: Trocadéro (Line 6, 9)

 
 
 The most photographed staircase in Paris. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/200 s, ISO 400]

The most photographed staircase in Paris. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/200 s, ISO 400]

 

 

Bir Hakeim Bridge

Built in 1905, the bridge was renamed to commemorate the Battle of Bir Hakeim in Second World War. It has two levels – lower for motor vehicles and pedestrians and upper for Line 6 of the Paris Metro. 

The bridge offers great views of the boats cruising on the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background, whereas its steel structure sets up an ideal setting for moody photos on rainy days. 

 Afterwork stroll. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/160 s, ISO 125]

Afterwork stroll. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/160 s, ISO 125]

 
 
 

During spring and summer, the sun rises exactly behind the Eiffel Tower and casts long shadows from passers-by. Unlike in Trocadéro, Parisians regularly cross the bridge both on foot and on bicycles, thus making it an excellent spot for intimate shots. Other than a handful of wedding photographers who don’t mind blocking the traffic for a photo, the place is relatively empty and doesn’t require special planning to visit.

I used a 16-35 mm lens to frame the Tower with the bridge structure, and a 50 mm for intimate close-ups. 

  • Metro station: Bir Hakeim (Line 6)
  • Bonus tip: Metro Line 6 from the direction of Trocadéro passes across the bridge and allows you to take photos through the train windows
 

 

Champ de Mars & nearby streets

Champ de Mars is a large public park extending from the base of the Eiffel Tower to the southeast. Along Trocadéro, it is probably the most cliché photography spot in the entire city. Other than its location, the park is far from spectacular, especially during cold months. Also, it is a huge construction site, so expect to have your views obscured by a variety of fences and containers. Nevertheless, it is crowded with visitors at all times of the day. 

 
 
 Lunch view. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/9, 1/400 s, ISO 100]

Lunch view. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/9, 1/400 s, ISO 100]

 The arrival of spring. [Sony a7Sii + Mitakon 50 f/0.95 @ ~f/1.5, 1/500 s, ISO 100]

The arrival of spring. [Sony a7Sii + Mitakon 50 f/0.95 @ ~f/1.5, 1/500 s, ISO 100]

 
 
 

With the arrival of spring, the blossoming trees bring the place to life and create plenty of interesting details to shoot. Also, warm weather brings out many people who have picnics on the lawns, providing plenty of opportunities to capture spontaneous moments with the Tower in the background. 

If you find yourself here, make sure you go all the way to the base of the Tower. Once you pass the control point, you will be able to shoot some stunning lookups, especially when the Tower is illuminated.

The surrounding streets, like Avenue Rapp, might not offer the cleanest views, but nevertheless, give an excellent opportunity to shoot the Tower in combination with the everyday life of Paris.

 

 

Arc de Triomphe

As one would expect, there is no lack of observation decks in Paris. The most notable locations from where the Eiffel Tower can be seen are Arc de Triomphe, Montparnasse Tower, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While each of those decks offers a unique perspective of the famous Parisian urban landscape and is worth visiting, we found the experience at Arc de Triomphe to be the most authentic and memorable. 

 
 
 View from the top of Arc de Triomphe. The black stain in the middle is the Montparnasse Tower. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/160 s, ISO 200]

View from the top of Arc de Triomphe. The black stain in the middle is the Montparnasse Tower. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/160 s, ISO 200]

 
 
 

Located on Charles de Gaulle Square, Arc de Triomphe is the meeting point of twelve straight avenues that form a star shape, and one of the finest examples of Haussmann’s renovation of Paris. Also, this iconic monument is an essential part of French history, honoring the famous victories of French forces during the Napoleonic Wars. Besides a great close-up view of the Eiffel Tower, this viewpoint also offers a majestic view on one of the most famous avenues in the world – Champs-Élysées, ending with the Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde. 

 
 
 
 
 

Make sure to bring an ultra-wide lens for panoramic shots of the avenues. Although a telephoto lens would be great to have too, 70 mm should be enough for a nice close-up of the Tower. Tripods are not allowed, at least not officially. However, I extended mine loud and proud, which didn’t seem to bother the security guards. 

  • Tickets: paris-arc-de-triomphe.fr (12 EUR)
  • Metro station: Charles de Gaulle – Étoile (Line 1, 2, 6)
  • Bonus tip: stay after sunset to see the Eiffel Tower light show (every full hour for five minutes)
 

 

Tour Montparnasse

Standing 210 meters tall, Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building and the only skyscraper in Paris. The top two floors feature a popular 360º observation deck. 

Although the skyscraper itself is quite impressive, with 59 stories, 7200 windows and the fastest elevator in Europe, Parisians mostly know it as the ugliest building in the city. Its proportions and out of place architecture have been a favorite topic of criticism and ridicule, with locals famously stating that it is a place with the most beautiful view in Paris because it’s the only spot from where the building itself cannot be seen. 

 View from the top of the black stain. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/22, 5 s, ISO 100]

View from the top of the black stain. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/22, 5 s, ISO 100]

 
 
 

The observation deck extends on two levels – the 56th floor and the rooftop panoramic terrace. And just as one would expect from such a tall building, it offers spectacular views of the city. You are allowed to bring a tripod, but keep in mind there are glass walls on both levels, which tend to create annoying reflections from the inside.

Also, due to its somewhat remote location, you will definitely need a telephoto lens for close-ups of the Eiffel Tower. The best time to visit is the evening when you can capture the sunset behind the Tower, as well as the impressive maze of city lights. 

For those of you who are still reluctant to pay 10+ EUR for the view of the city, Lafayette Gallery offers decent views at no cost.

 

 

Honorable mentions

Along the Seine

Passing right through the heart of the city, the Seine divides Paris in half. With the Eiffel Tower and many other landmarks conveniently located right on the riverbanks, a large stretch of the river features great opportunities to take photos. Whether just a stroll or a cruise along the river, make sure you include it in your Paris schedule. 

 
 
 Moody nights at Passerelle Debilly footbridge. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/3 s, ISO 3200]

Moody nights at Passerelle Debilly footbridge. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ 16 mm, f/4, 1/3 s, ISO 3200]

 Pont d'Iéna. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ f/22, 30 s (LEE Filters 10-stop ND filter), ISO 50]

Pont d'Iéna. [Sony a7Sii + 16-35 f/4 @ f/22, 30 s (LEE Filters 10-stop ND filter), ISO 50]

 
 
 

Street views

With its height of 324 meters, the Eiffel Tower is hard to miss, and even some far-away streets offer surprisingly clean views. Although, for the most part, that requires a telephoto lens, places like Place de la Concorde let you get away with some nice urban photos even with shorter focal lengths. 

 Late-evening Citroën summit at Place de la Concorde. [Sony a7Sii + 70-200 f/4 @ 78 mm, f/4, 1/640 s, ISO 200]

Late-evening Citroën summit at Place de la Concorde. [Sony a7Sii + 70-200 f/4 @ 78 mm, f/4, 1/640 s, ISO 200]

 
 
 

We are sure that this list barely scratched the surface of designated Eiffel Tower photography spots, but our time in Paris was limited and often featured long stretches of bad weather. Do you know some other spots worth visiting? Let us know in the comments below.