Using a tripod in public places in Paris

People frequently wonder if it is possible to use a tripod on the street in Paris. We did some research to find any law preventing it. Here are our findings.

What the French law says

It is difficult to find anything related to the quite particular issue of using a potentially dangerous item as a tripod in a public area or on the street. There is one article of the Code de la Route (regulations related to driving) that is supposed to be applicable in this case. 
It (more or less) says: 

Article L. 7. Whoever has set up a device blocking the circulation of vehicles in a zone opened to the public or has used another means to block it can be punished by up to 2 years of prison or a fine of up to 6000 Euros.

Looking at it more closely, this article seems to be designed to prevent people from setting up barricades or other means of blocking road trafic and will probably not be usable against you and your tripod unless you put it in the middle of a street! 

I could not find anything more relevant than this article.

Local regulations

Mayors have the right to set up special regulations that are only applicable locally, but supersede national laws. It is the case in Paris where shootings in the street are regulated. You need an authorization, but only in some particular cases, especially if:

  • you use a crew of more than 10 persons
  • you need to block a street to car or pedestrian trafic
  • you use a military or police vehicle during the shooting
  • you use heavy gear (typically more than one camera on tripod, )

As you may have guessed, the above rules apply mostly to the shooting of movies and the individual photographer is not to be worried by them. 

Here is the link to the text I have found: filming in Paris

An example: shooting inside the Louvre courtyard

Even though I have never been bothered when taking photos there, I have heard reports of security guards preventing persons from using tripods in the Louvre museum courtyards. 

I searched the Louve official website and found this document that lists the updated museum regulations. It states that:

  • taking photos inside the Louvre is forbidden in some areas. This could be gradually extended to the whole museum
  • professional photographers should ask for a permit to shoot inside the Louvre

But it says nothing about tripods being forbidden in the courtyard. A previous regulation was forbidding to use a tripod inside the museum, but did not say anything about its use outside the buildings.

Safety issues

Setting up a tripod in an area where a lot of people walk around, sometimes without paying attention can be hazardous (including for your camera). I generally try to avoid crowded places, which is easy, except during warm summer nights in areas like the Pont des Arts or Notre Dame. 
If I need to setup my tripod in such an area, I stand with my legs around one of the tripod legs, in order to protect it and keep people from getting too close. This way, I have never had a problem.

Another solution

If you do not want to use a tripod, but still want to take night shots of Paris, an alternative is the use of a mini-tripod (or table tripod). It would be easier to carry anyway and you can put it on bridges and other areas to use long exposures, provided you make sure your camera is not too heavy for it.