By Theadora Brack in Paris—
Golden leaves are falling in Paris, making it the perfect time to roll out another batch of iconic French backdrops for photo ops, perfect for your social media portraits and status updates, too. Celebrating my favorite street photographers—Brassaï, Robert Doisneau, and Eugène Atget—I’ve meshed the old with the new, fully appreciating the dynamic, overlapping, ever-changing juxtapositions.
So with Rolleiflex firmly in hand, channel your inner-glamour puss and look this way!
(If you haven’t already seen our first list of “Iconic Spots in Paris for the Perfect Photo Ops,” make sure to check those out, too!)
1. Pont Alexandre III
Metro: Champs-Elysées- Clemenceau, 7th arrondissement
Raise your hand if you haven’t seen English singer-writer Adele’s sulky-smooth, newly released “Someone Like You” video, and if not, then get thee to a computer. Pack a hanky!
Directed by Jake Nava, the Alexander III Bridge makes a cameo appearance like no other pont to date. In the tear-jerker video, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais (and the Petit) along with Les Invalides and Place de la Concorde. And yes, the La Grande Roue (Ferris Wheel) keeps on turning!
How to get the look: If you want the Eiffel Tower in the shot, photograph it on the Belle Époque beauty’s upstream right bank side of the bridge.
Note to fashionistas: Adele’s fetching black A-line coat with asymmetrical gold zipper is from Moschino’s fall 2010 runway line. I think she scored the very last one. Now who feels sorry for Adele? And the diva’s wild windswept hair? Not a problem, as the damp river air will merrily take care of that for you without a charge. I have been there!
2. Shhhh! Mural at the Centre Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou
Metro: Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville, 4th arrondissement
I recently stumbled upon a massive mural one recent Sunday afternoon while making my way to the Beaubourg (aka, the Pompidou Center) to buy more reporter notebooks. Neatly tucked behind the Stravinsky fountain, “Shhhh” was created by graffiti artist Jef Aerosol back in June 2011.
Measuring in at an impressive 350 square meters, it was created with spray paint, stencils, and plenty-o-scaffolding, along with the mayor’s stamp of approval and commission. The massive mural’s message? “Stop, look and appreciate the city,” according to the artist. It certainly stopped me in my tracks. Flâneurs, while strolling out and about the city, keep your eyes peeled for street art. It’s everywhere.
3. Le Passe-Muraille
Place Marcel Aymé, at rue Norvins and rue Girardon
Metro: Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
In hilly Montmartre, you’ll find Le Passe-Muraille (“Walker-Through-Walls”). The captivating bronze sculpture is a tribute to novelist Marcel Aymé.
Based on his book by the same title, the main character wakes up one morning with the fantastical ability to walk through walls. At first it’s all fun and games, until his newly-acquired gifts lead him into headlong into harm.
The statue was created by actor and sculptor Jean Marais, who starred in Jean Cocteau’s classics “Beauty and the Beast” and “Orphée.” Cheapos, perhaps it’s time to bust a move?
4. Hôtel de Ville
Metro: Hôtel de Ville, 4th arrondissement
Calling all incurable 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. 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.
Granted, the cooing couple’s relationship only lasted for nine months, but one can still dream about me and my boo and my boo lip locking, all up in the back (near the fountains) because the pigeons keep flocking—pinching from Beyoncé.
5. I’m waiting for the (meat) man on rue Lepic
Boucherie des Gourmets, 18 Rue Lepic
Metro: Abbesses or Blanche, 18th arrondissement
Meet my new boyfriend. Okay, so he’s a little stiff, but he’s never let me down. Whenever I’m out of sorts or suffering a bad hairdo, he’s there for me. With his wolf calls, he’s never failed to make me smile (except when the shop is closed on Mondays!).
Cheapos, you can find eye-catching, funky signage like this all over Paris. Backdrops for photo-ops abound! Boulangeries, fromageries, and pâtisseries, along with cafes and even pharmacies hire artists to create signs, murals or window displays of their own. Most are creatively fun, a few inevitably fall into the category of exquisitely beautiful, but each and every one contributes a little something more to the city’s evolving vistas!
Take one from Hemingway, Cheapos: “There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other.”