Five places in Paris to find inspiration.

Five places in Paris to find inspiration.

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As an author, I find inspiration everywhere, but when I walk the streets of Paris, I am flooded with ideas. The City of Lights has inspired many artists, authors and painters over the centuries – and it continues to inspire today. Whether you’re a full-time writer or testing your artistic talents for the first time, here are five places in Paris that inspire creativity.

The View from the Top of Notre Dame

Unless you arrive early, you’ll probably wait an hour in line, then climb countless narrow, spiral stone stairs before you reach the top of the cathedral, but it’s worth every moment when you get to the top. To say the view is inspiring is a huge understatement. The first time I went up, I stayed over half an hour, taking in the view of the city.

From the stone chimera guarding the top of the cathedral (gargoyles are drain spouts; chimera are statutes), to the Seine River bisecting the city into the right and left banks, the Eiffel Tower in the distance and the hundreds of people below, the view from the top of Notre Dame Cathedral ranks as one of my top favorite views in the world.

The Montmartre Market. Photo courtesy of Denise Grover Swank

Montmartre Market

If you want another view of Paris, the one from Sacre Coeur Basilica is even better than from Notre Dame, but if you’re like me, you also find creative inspiration by immersing yourself with other creatives. So head west from the basilica to the Montmartre Market. On any given day, you’ll find a wide assortment of artists selling their pieces in the square. Some even create their masterpieces while waiting for customers.

If you have time, wander the side streets and find the hundreds-year-old windmills that inspired painters Renoir and van Gogh.

The St. Martin Canal. Photo courtesy of Denise Grover Swank

St. Martin’s Canal

If you’re looking for a non-touristy place to relax in a city of over two million people then the man-made St. Martin’s Canal is the the spot for you. With the picturesque setting and the proximity to many restaurants and bars – and shopping if you stick to the area east of Gare du Nord – you’ll find the perfect place to become inspired.

The Fontaine Saint Michael. Photo courtesy of Denise Grover Swank

Fontaine Saint-Michel

Somehow I missed this fountain on my first two trips, but once I found it, I made sure to see it twice the third time I visited.

Located in the Latin Quarter, it’s surrounded by tourists, but the stop is worth the crowd. Apparently, the central figure has been changed several times, but it currently features the Archangel Michael defeating the devil, an image that might inspire your inner muse to conquer your own demons.

St. Etienne in Paris
St. Etienne. Photo courtesy of Denise Grover Swank

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church

While most tourists wait for up to an hour or more to enter Notre Dame Cathedral, you’ll find an equally beautiful church only a few blocks south.

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont isn’t nearly as old, but the original structure was started around 1492 – when Christopher Columbus was discovering the New World – and it’s a beautiful example of French Gothic architecture. It’s a cool, quiet place to rest if you’re visiting in the hot summer months while you take in the architecture and the elegant statutes.

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About the Author: Denise Grover Swank is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 27 novels for adults and teens, including ONE PARIS SUMMER (June 7, 2016; HarperCollins/Blink). She frequently speaks on the topics of writing, publishing, and building a career as an author. While she’s written in multiple genres, ONE PARIS SUMMER is her first contemporary Young Adult novel. Denise resides in Lee’s Summit, MO with her children. Connect with Denise at


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