Updated: Apr 5, 2021
As beautiful as sunsets are, sunrises are - for me - even more magical than their evening counterparts.
It is not easy waking up early but it definitely worth it. Waking up before the rising sun, going to the photography spot and discovering another face of Paris; teenagers going home from their party, the bars and the terraces being tidied up, a few people on their way to work and a few taxis on the road. The capital is completely different when there are fewer people outside and less noise. The must-see places are empty and quiet and the light is way softer. This is those moments that I like and who give me the strength when it’s hard to wake up.
The advantages of going out to take some pictures in the early morning, when the sun rises are the same as the sunset. The colours will change from one day to another, the light is softer but the biggest advantage is that you will enjoy Paris almost empty, almost to yourself.
Here are a few tips to be well prepared !
What do you need to think about ?
You probably know that the sun doesn’t rise at the same time during summer and winter, the difference can be very great.
- 21 March : 6:29 am
- 21 June : 5:21 am
- 21 September : 7:18 am
- 21 December : 8:18 am
These hours change gradually through the year and you need to be sure to be there at least 15 minutes before, when it’s still dark, to find the spot, settle in and not miss anything of the show.
Remember to check the weather the day before. If the weather is completely cloudy, this sunrise mission will unfortunately have to be postponed. Indeed, getting up so early to only see clouds is not optimal - unless that's the artistic effect you're looking for in your photos.
If your goal when travelling is to take unique shots of Paris, your days are numbered, so don't miss out! Just like for the sunsets, here is my selection of the best photo spots, in my opinion, for sunrises in Paris.
1- Bir Hakeim
3- Pont des arts also known as Lover’s bridge
5- Notre Dame
6- Le Louvre
7- Hôtel de ville
8- L’opéra Garnier
9- La place Vendôme
1. Bir-Hakeim bridge
The famous and very photogenic bridge is known to have served as the setting for the film "Inception". This spot is, in my eyes, perfect! The axis is impeccable to see the sun rise and to be able to play with the compositions with the bridge, the Seine and the Eiffel Tower.
The advantage of shooting at dawn in Paris is that the Seine is calm, the boats are not sailing there yet, which allows for a beautiful reflection in the water, something impossible the rest of the day.
Probably the most famous spot for sunrises! At the Trocadéro, don't expect to be alone, probably 10 wedding shoots will be there - but that doesn’t do away with the beauty of the setting and the magic of the rising sun, lighting up the sky and the Iron Lady. Remember to arrive well in advance or to check beforehand the spots that you will want to capture. Be late and you'll end up in the crowd.
3. Pont des Arts
First spot without the Eiffel Tower! The Pont des Arts is the first bridge just after the « Ile de la Cité », so it offers a magnificent view of the tip of the island, at dawn, the Seine is calm and provides a superb spectacle.
Interesting point - you can go twice to the same place, but it will be the weather conditions and the colours in the sky that will make the moment unique, like this photo taken at the same place as the previous one but with completely different colour tones.
The Basilica of « Sacré Cœur » is a must shoot and it is possible to photograph it from a lot of different angles. In addition to this, there is a special atmosphere in Montmartre at sunrise. Young people finishing their evening party gather there to watch the sun rise from the heights of the Montmartre “Butte” , some take their dogs for a walk, others are going for their morning jog and the photographers have just woken up to capture it all.
In front of Sacré Coeur
The famous "sinking house"
A classic, but what a classic! As with the Trocadéro, dawn is the perfect time to avoid the crowds, the square is empty and calm.
Unfortunately, following the fire, this square has changed a bit but there are still plenty of compositions to do (photo 11). Do yourself a favour, take a walk and find your favourite angle of view, there are so many of them!
6. Le Palais du Louvre
The empty « Palais du Louvre », deserted by the hordes of tourists, has a certain charm. When you face the Louvre Pyramid, towards the Jardin des Tuileries, you will find yourself with your back to the sun but you will still manage to get pretty colours in the background.
If you have a little time in front of you, wait for the sun to rise and start to illuminate the courtyard of the Louvre, there will be a lot of beautiful compositions. Then, walk towards the Jardin des Tuileries, and play with light and shadows near the Arch.
7. L’Hôtel de Ville
The aim here is not to go there at the precise moment of sunrise, since the axis of the sun is not exactly right, but to wait a little for the sun to pass the top of this magnificent building and enjoy this empty square. The Hôtel de Ville is not far from Île de la Cité and Notre Dame, so why not do the two together? Start capturing the first lights of the day around Notre Dame and then move on to the Town Hall.
8. L’Opéra Garnier
Come here during the day and you will probably have three buses, a dozen cars and a mass of tourists in front of you. Get up a little earlier and enjoy this magnificent monument as you will rarely see it.
Then go for a coffee, have breakfast and why not combine it with a visit to the interior of the Opéra Garnier?
9. La place Vendôme
This square, known for its jewellery stores and luxury hotels is beautiful, but not the easiest to photograph! Indeed, a constant flow of cars passing by makes the task difficult or even dangerous. By going there in the early morning, if the sky is clear with a few clouds, you will have nice colour shades.
10. Station de métro Passy
This spot is not the best known, but it offers an interesting perspective on the skytrain of line 6 and the Haussmann buildings surrounding it. To make sure you have the best colours in the sky, the sun will be on the right axis from November to February. Another advantage of this spot is that it is very close to the Bir Hakeim bridge and 5 minutes’ walk from the Trocadéro! This is the opportunity to go to several places if you have the time 😊
Did I forgot to mention a spot ? Which one is your favourite ?