Paris is a fantastic source of inspiration for writers.
When we think of the French capital, it conjures up images of fashionable people, streets lined with cafés and beautiful buildings. There’s always the smell of great food and the hint of romance in the air.
The City of Light is also an inspirational place for authors who enjoy writing mysteries, horror and adventure books. We all know about the skull-lined catacombs that lie beneath the Parisian streets, holding the remains of six million people.
So with both the dreamy and the darkness in mind, here are my top 5 places in Paris for writing inspiration:
For writing inspiration, and creative inspiration in general, then we need to begin with one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
The Eiffel Tower has inspired countless writers, filmmakers, painters and artists from all walks of life. And it’s easy to see why.
The tower itself can be the setting for any writing genre. Got a love story idea? They are kissing beneath the Eiffel Tower. Writing about a monster destroying a city? He’s slowly climbing the Eiffel Tower. Writing a feminist piece and need to tear down a phallic symbol of male-dominated culture. Eiffel Tower.
Whatever your reasons, it’s hard not to be inspired by the most-visited paid monument in the world.
Be inspired by other creative people!
The streets of Paris, particularly around Montmartre, are awash with creativity. At some moment in time, likely under the cover of darkness, a street artist has shared their skills and their story with the passing world.
Who is the girl in the picture? Is there a cryptic code hidden within their scrawled words? Is that a hidden doorway? There are so many story ideas just waiting to be put into words.
In the song Acrylic Afternoons, Jarvis Cocker (from the band Pulp) sang about a a small child in dungarees who caught his hands in the doors of the Paris Metro.
Like all great stories, this song lyric turned a normal journey on a normal day into an extraordinary one. What happened to the child? Did any other passengers react?
I love travelling about the city on the Paris metro. The Art Nouveau signs for each stop, the people you meet on the journey. Where are they heading? Who are they meeting? Is it legal to have a llama on here?
The cafés and restaurants of Paris are not only a typically creative place for writers to sit and hone their craft, but can also be the setting and inspiration for the content of your writing.
New characters come to life around you, as you imagine who these people are meeting. Why is that lady wearing sunglasses indoors? Hearing snippets of conversations and piecing together the rest of the story in your head.
All while dining or sipping on wonderful French cuisine as you jot down notes. Perfect!
The Arc de Triomphe is often a gathering point for the people of Paris, both in good times and bad. And if it’s important to the people, it’s important to your story.
Sitting at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, I have seen many people risking their lives in the (somewhat chaotic) French traffic as they try to take the perfect picture. (Hint: Go in the very early hours of the morning when there is no traffic or people).
Patriotically celebrating French victories in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and holding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, this bold monument contains enough mystery and history to inspire new generations of writers.
So there you have it, my top 5 places in Paris for writing inspiration.
My advice to gain further insight into the city would be to go watch the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris. Set in Paris, it features Owen Wilson as a budding novelist and screenwriter, alongside Rachel McAdams and a host of other stars.