Okay, I guess it’s not much of a tip, and everybody who’s been to Paris probably knew where the best vantage point to view the Eiffel Tower. But what’s the best time to go visit?
When I toured Paris in the summer of 2009, the sun was setting between 9 and 10 pm. I reached the tower in the late afternoon, probably about 6 pm where the sun was still above the horizon. As per most photography advices, one of the best times to capture astounding landscape pictures was in the late afternoon when the sun was setting and emanating a soft but intense golden colour. I guessed I arrived at the ideal time.
I walked towards and under the tower, taking in the sight and fighting busloads of tourists. But I wanted to find a quieter spot to sit down, rest and enjoy the view, with some snacks. I had a long day and was knackered.
I headed north east of the tower and found myself in a beautiful open green space called Jardins du Trocadéro. The water feature in the middle, called the Fountain of Warsaw was impressive with fountains jetting water across.
Before I navigate the open space I took a look at the tower and realised I passed by a carousel without even knowing it was there. At the time the sun has set, but the sky maintained a light blue hue. The carousel was running with bright lights. With the Paris icon as the backdrop, I thought then that was a great photo opportunity.
I’ve tried to follow a lot of travel photography advice – try to take pictures of iconic establishments at different angles. This is to break away from stock-standard traditions and introduce a fresher perspective to something that probably has been photographed a gazillion times.
The result was the photograph that opens this blog. I really like the blurring effect as it depicts motion.
I continued walking across the great green space and reached the steps of Palais de Chaillot. The architecture was impressive. It’s made up of two symmetrical ‘wings’ shaped in two arcs. The two parts are actually not connected. An esplanade separates the two sections and they both house a few museums. Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of people on the steps so I decided to rest for a while.
My stomach rumbled, but I really wanted to see the tower light up at night. So I walked across the esplanade to the streets behind the Palais. By a stroke of luck, I found and ventured into a small grocery store that sells both wine and cheese.
I bought a cheap red, a big piece of camembert and a loaf of fresh baguette. At the cashier, I was gesturing to the staff in a cutting motion on the cheese. He immediately understood, took a knife and sliced the cheese.
I went back to my spot, sat down and started tearing the baguette. I was really hungry and stuffed myself with lots of cheese and bread. I had a few sip of the wine. It was an experience having a mini picnic in one of the best spots in the world. The bread was fragrance with fulfilling bites. It went really well with the soft Camembert.
Not long after, the tower lit up in strong orange colours. It was impressive. Suddenly the light started to flash and flickered in speed of light succession, sort of like inside a club with millions of light spots on and off. The tower became alive and turned into a different shade.
The night cooled rapidly but the view was too hard to tear away. Unfortunately my eyes became really heavy and I had to retreat to the hotel. All in all, a great day as I got an everlasting impression of the tower both in the day and in the night.