It’s the final day of my Paris photography adventure, and Versailles is the main thing on the agenda.
I got there soon after it opened at 9 am, and the line was humongous (a recurring theme of my trip). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, as a photographer at least, you can skip the Palace tour and go straight to the gardens. That’s where you will get the best shots, and it’s free and there are no lines to deal with. It is an absolute zoo inside the palace, they will confiscate your tripod, and you aren’t allowed to take any photographs in the special exhibitions.
I did end up going into the Palace, thinking I had to in order to get to the gardens. Since I had already bought my ticket, I shoved and plowed my way through the masses to see if there were any shots to be had. I got a nice ceiling shot with my fisheye:
Other than that, it’s just a lot of paintings and gaudy ornate gold decorations. Take a look at the pictures online and save yourself the hassle.
One thing I’ll never understand is why people take pictures with an iPad. The iPhone has a better camera, and the iPad just seems so unwieldy. Nevertheless, there were iPad photographers all over the place.
Finishing the palace tour and getting out to the gardens was literally a huge breath of fresh air. There’s tons to shoot there.
There are plenty of sculptures in the gardens you could shoot. My favorite composition was to use f/4 and focus on a statue and blur out the palace in the background. I also used HDR to bring out more of the texture in the statue itself.
I got a little lost finding the train station, and ended up taking the SNCF train at Versailles Rive Droite back to Paris. That turned out to be fortuitous, as it was a very scenic ride, with views of La Défense, the Eiffel Tower, cemeteries, graffiti, and some very interesting building design. I highly recommend it and sit on the right side.
During that ride, I noticed a view along the river Seine down to La Défense. I’d been wanting to take some night shots of those buildings, so I dropped a pin for reference on my iPhone map and then figured out how to get back there later using the RATP app. That pin drop technique is very useful in this kind of situation.
I ended up in a lovely neighborhood called Pont de Neuilly. I wandered around quite a bit and I didn’t get the shot I was looking for, but I still got a nice shot of a couple of La Défense skyscrapers against a beautiful blue hour sky.
I headed back to the Pont de Neuilly Metro station and found myself at a spot looking at the Grande Arche in one direction and the Arc de Triomphe in another. That’s the Ave Charles de Gaulle, which is basically the continuation of the Champs d’Élysées on the other side of the Arc de Triomphe. The blue cloudy sky came out nicely here.
I switched to my telephoto lens to zoom in tighter, and before I tried to focus, I saw all of these beautiful blurry lights. I really liked what I saw so I captured it, and I’m calling it the “Arc de Blur.” You can barely make out the Arc de Triomphe in the center.
That’s an appropriate shot to end with, as these past 19 days have gone by in a blur. I hope I’ve been able to give you some useful information for your own Paris photography adventure. It’s an incredibly picturesque city, a real photographer’s dream. And if you aren’t able to make it to Paris yourself, I hope you’ll be able to enjoy a slice of that beauty through my own images.
Au revoir for now!