The 9 Best Coffee Table Books About Paris

Night shot of Paris
Night shot of Paris | © MustangJoe / Pixabay
Photo of Paul McQueen
30 September 2016

In an age when everyone with a smartphone thinks of themselves as a semi-professional photographer, it can seem like eye-catching pictures of Paris are a dime a dozen. Trust us when we say that the images contained within the pages of these coffee table books are like nothing you’ll see popping on your social media feeds. They represent the work of the most renowned French photographers of the past century and that of a new crop of talent who are intent on capturing the City of Light in new, inventive ways.

Paris in Color by Nichole Robertson

Published: April 18, 2012 by Chronicle Books

Nichole Robertson offers an original insight into what is surely one of the world’s most photographed urban spaces. Her book arranges the many wonders of Paris according to their colors, demonstrating a sharp eye for detail and shade. Canary yellow, for example, dazzles in the paintwork of a vintage car, tulips in a florist’s basket, the wicker chairs of a brasserie, and, of course, the glowing ‘M’ of the metro sign. It’s a collection of photographs that is sure to brighten any coffee table, bookshelf, or gloomy day.

Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views by Gail Albert Halaban

Published: October 31, 2014 by Aperture

This pleasingly voyeuristic photographic collection is a continuation of Halaban’s New York series Out My Window. Again, windows frame the works, which were created between 2012 and 2013, and draw the eye into the inner worlds of their subjects. It is a meditation on modern, urban life, where people live in such close proximity yet often in total isolation from one another. We’ve all imagined a backstory for our neighbors based on the limited access our apartments’ vis à vis offer to their habits – this book allows us to do this on a city-wide scale.

#ParisViews by Gail Albert Halaban. More @thecut 🇫🇷🗼🏢

A photo posted by The Cut (@thecut) on

Paris by Robert Doisneau

Published: November 15, 2005 by Flammarion

Anyone who proclaims to love Paris must be familiar with Robert Doisneau’s work, at very least his iconic shot of two lovers kissing in front of the Hôtel de Ville. This collection of more than 600 images, many of which are rare, forgotten, or previously unpublished, were selected by the photographer’s daughter and demonstrate his poetic photojournalism at its best. Their accompanying commentary reveals how Doisneau thought and felt about the city and its residents, whose daily lives he spent most of his career chronicling.

"Girl Dancing Be Bop" by Robert Doisneau, Paris 1951

A photo posted by Olivia Hipp (@oliviabhipp) on

Henri Cartier-Bresson: À Propos de Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Published: May 1, 1998 by Bulfinch

This collection from the legendary Frenchman who pioneered street photography, philosophized about its role in capturing a decisive moment, and gave us the immortal quote, ‘Photography is nothing, it’s life that interests me,’ is a must-have for anyone serious about the city’s visual heritage. Taken over the course of 50 years, the 131 images were selected personally by Cartier-Bresson and offer a unique vision of the Parisian landscape.

Henri Cartier-Bresson ❤️

A photo posted by Think Outside of the Box (@thebewitchedamerican) on

Paris by Serge Ramelli

Published: May 15, 2015 by teNeues

Serge Ramelli’s cinematic vision of Paris presents the city in its most magnificent and fabulous form. His scenes, both day and night, show the city almost emptied of its inhabitants but somehow still charged with life, as if the buildings, streets, bridges and lampposts themselves emanate the energy which makes it such a captivating subject. A young, French photographer, Ramelli is inspired by the cinema of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Ridley Scott and is, himself, a filmmaker.

Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart by Janelle McCulloch

Published: October 3, 2012 by Chronicle Books

Janelle McCulloch’s beautifully shot and packaged book takes readers on a journey through Paris, arrondissement by arrondissement. In each neighborhood, she finds a small, wonderful detail – macarons in a patisserie window, a quiet corner in a park – that draws out the subtle magic of the place. Her easy-reading texts are also filled with insider tips on where to go and what to see, giving up some of the city’s best-kept secrets.

Elliott Erwitt’s Paris by Elliott Erwitt

Published: September 15, 2015 by teNeues

Another master of street photography, Elliott Erwitt took pictures which encapsulate the real essence of Paris: a city as much about its grand monuments and striking architecture as it is about the tiny, human moments that unfold in their shadows. Remembered mostly for his black-and-white photography that captured the absurd amidst the mundane, Elliott Erwitt’s Paris is a stunning tribute to a city that doesn’t forget to mention its wicked sense of humor.

Eiffel tower's 100th birthday #eliotterwitt 1989 #paris #eiffeltower #eiffel #france

A photo posted by @christopheriedel on

Paris: Portrait of a City by Jean-Claude Gautrand

Published: March 1, 2012 by Taschen

In one book, Jean-Claude Gautrand, a photographer, historian, journalist, and critic, has managed to assemble works that perfectly trace not only the evolution of the city over the past 150 years but that of photography itself, from its creation on the bank of the Seine at the hands Niépce and Daguerre to the present day. Photographs by some of the art’s biggest names – Daguerre, Marville, Atget, Lartigue, Brassaï, Kertész, Ronis, Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson – sit alongside those by unknown photographers in a patchwork collection stretching to 500 images and 600 pages.

Paris – Taschen / Jean Claude Gautrand…

A photo posted by Street art by Lck (@street_art_by_lck) on

The Light of Paris by Jean-Michel Berts

Published: October 1, 2006 by Assouline Publishing

In creating this work, Jean-Michel Berts set out on a distinct photographic mission: he wanted to capture the City of Light after the sun went down and before it came back up again, while its residents were dreaming but the city was still wide awake. The ethereal, black-and-white images he collected of the city’s deserted streets sit alongside beautifully written text by French novelist Pierre Assouline. It is a stunning book that renders Paris in a way you are unlikely to have encountered before.

Pray for Paris #photojeanmichelberts #photoblackandwhite #photoparis #jeanmichelberts #prayforparis

A photo posted by Valeriesanyas (@valeriesanyas) on

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