About a month ago, I received an email from the folks at the US French Tourism Office asking if I’d be interested in taking over their Instagram account. As a Francophile, I jumped at the chance to preach the gospel of Paris to my fellow Americans through my photos.
Since I’d been in Paris for basically nine weeks, I had plenty of photos to choose from. My time spanned from the start of September, when Jardin du Luxembourg was awash with the colors of summer, to October, when golden leaves at Jardin des Tuileries crunched beneath my boots, to the end of November, when the Champs-Élysées twinkled with Christmas lights.
With only three days for the takeover, it was tough to choose exactly which photos to share. I wanted to have a few quintessentially Parisian pictures, but also some that reflected my time in the city. I spent significant time in Montmartre and could have filled the Visit France Instagram stream with shots from the bohemian neighborhood. Ultimately, I narrowed down my thousands of photos to about fifty. From there, I just picked what I was drawn to in the moment.
Looking at the thirteen photos now, I realize that each one I selected is not just a snapshot in time, but also a testament to those people in which I shared the moment. From friends who visited from New York and Vienna to those who call Paris home, these photos represent some of my favorite experiences from the last three months. Paris is without question beautiful with a charm all its own, but its those whose paths I’ve been fortunate enough to cross that make the city magical for me.
So, in case you missed the photos on Visit France’s Instagram account, I’ve included them here, along with the original captions. I decided not to crop them into squares, instead showing the full original photos.
#1 A Loving Leap
Bonsoir from Paris! I’m Leah, and I’ll be at the helm of this account for the next three days. I’m a Texan who has fallen in love with all things France, especially Paris. I’ve been in the City of Light since the start of September and will be returning to Houston at the end of the week. But before I go, I’m pleased to share some of my favorite Parisian moments from the last three months, like this photo in front of le mur des je t’aime (I Love You Wall) located in Montmartre. “I love you” is written 311 times in 250 languages and was conceived by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito.
#2 Say Cheese
A list of the great attributes of France would be incomplete without cheese mentioned close to the top. With 350-400 distinct types of cheeses, you could basically try a different one every day for a year. I took this photo at a fromagerie in Saint-Germain-des-Prés on a food tour I took with Context Travel and Paris by the Glass.
#3 The Iron Lady
Let me go ahead and get the obligatory shot of the Eiffel Tower posted. I took this photo from the Right Bank on avenue de New York.
#4 Start the Day
It’s morning here in Paris, and that means coffee and croissants for breakfast. I took this photo at Chez Ginette located at the top of the Lamarck-Caulaincourt metro stop in Montmartre. I regularly stop here since my flat is only a few meters away.
#5 A Stylish Snooze
On Sundays, I often visit the Saint-Ouen antiques market. Located in the north of Paris, this massive market dates to 1885 and is filled with everything you can imagine and plenty of stuff you’ve probably never even heard of. It’s only open on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, so shoppers must plan accordingly.
#6 French Fascination
Christmas decorations have arrived in Paris. This weekend I strolled along rue Saint-Honore´ in the 1st arrondissement and found a little boy as enamored with the decor as I was.
#7 The Newest Icon
A couple of weeks ago I ventured out to the west of Paris to Foundation Louis Vuitton. This massive contemporary art museum designed by Frank Gehry is located in Bois de Boulogne and opened to the public on October 27, 2014. Art is subjective, but the brilliance of this building is undeniable. I could have stayed here all day exploring the terraces and halls. It’s truly magnificent and a must-do when in Paris.
#8 A Beacon in the Night
Paris is best explored by foot, and my favorite time to take a walk is on Sunday nights. At the beginning of October, I was staying at Hotel du Louvre and made the short walk to the Louvre. I found a nearly-full moon and just a few other people. Paris seems to morph into another city at night, especially Sunday nights.
#9 Breaking Dawn
As much as I love sunsets in Paris, I think the sunrises are underrated. I captured this moment one Sunday morning in October from the terrace of my room at Hotel Vernet near the Arc de Triomphe. The city was still asleep, and I felt like it was for my eyes only.
#10 Special Delivery
Perhaps I’m alone, but I enjoy moving about Paris using the metro. It’s simple, safe, and efficient. But what I like best is seeing the different designs of metro stations. Some of them are filled with art or historical bits of information. Often they reflect their respective neighborhood, like Rambuteau. This stop mimics the colorful George Pompidou Center.
#11 From the Heart
One of my favorite spots in Paris is Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. Sitting at the highest point in the city, the basilica offers extraordinary views. I took this photo on October 31, just after sunset. The steps were filled with people, but I like it best on the weekdays when the crowds are essentially gone.
#12 Masterpiece Marvel
When I visit the Louvre, it’s not the Mona Lisa I take photos of, but instead, it’s the people looking at the masterpiece. I was fortunate to visit in a Thursday in November when hoards of people weren’t in the museum.
And one last shot before handing the reigns back over to @visitfrance. Wherever you are, I want to wish all of the Americans a very happy Thanksgiving from Paris, France.
If you’re fiending for more French photographs then make sure to visit my Instagram account, LeahTravels. Also, don’t forget to check out the Visit France account, too. Feel free to leave your Instagram handle in the comments. I’m always looking for great people to follow.
Cacinda MaloneyDecember 2, 2014
Leah, you know I love your Instagram account and now I will have to follow France Tourism Board’s account as well! Would love for your readers to follow this fellow Texan account on Instagram: PointsandTravel http://instagram.com/pointsandtravel It includes photos from my latest trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but soon i am leaving for Europe again to visit the Christmas Markets in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands! Wish you were coming with me!
Leah WalkerDecember 2, 2014
Thank you! The feeling is mutual. You’ve got a great stream of photos. I wish I’d been able to do that trip with you, but the timing just wasn’t right. Another time and place, I suppose.
Traveling TedDecember 2, 2014
Magnifique! You sum up the beauty of this city quite well. France Tourism USA made a wise choice giving you the reigns of their account.
Leah WalkerDecember 2, 2014
Thank you, Ted. It’s easy to capture the beauty when you love a place so dearly. 🙂
ModotDecember 3, 2014
Wonderful view.The pics are very beautifully clicked that has added so much beauty in the place.
Context TravelDecember 5, 2014
Beautiful photos, Leah!
Lance | Trips By LanceDecember 8, 2014
As always, great shots. I didn’t even know you took over that account. What a great opportunity.
Leah WalkerDecember 10, 2014
Thanks so much, Lance. I posted it a couple of times on Facebook, but I figure about 95% of my fans don’t actually see my stuff. Thanks a lot, Facebook.
craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous)December 11, 2014
Nicely done. I love the photo of people taking photos (Mona Lisa)….i often snap such images… I’ll also need to see the sunset image at some point, as I recall you had some splendid sunset images from Paris….
my instagram is @stayadventurous
Stay Paris, Craig
Leah WalkerDecember 15, 2014
I did have some great sunset photos. Maybe they’ll make it into my Instagram year in review post. 🙂
Pola (Jetting Around)December 11, 2014
I enjoyed following your Paris photos throughout your stay in the city – and I can’t wait to be back there. You know how much I love it… I’d like to see #7 for myself, mostly because I like Frank Gehry’s Chicago work. Nice pics (and picks)!
Leah WalkerDecember 15, 2014
I’d love to take a trip to Paris with you. I love your keen eye. You must see Foundation LV. It’s truly the real work of art.
BARBARA MURPHYMarch 25, 2015
What wonderful captures…I look forward to more when you move there in a few weeks.