The world’s most alluring city – with its tree-shaded boulevards,
lamplit bridges, exquisite cuisine and cafe terraces lined with wicker chairs
for people watching – seduces whatever the time of year or day.
It would apparently take nine months to glance at every artwork in the Louvre but following a self-guided themed trail
makes it more accessible. Lovers should follow ‘Mighty Aphrodite, Mythical Love
Stories’, a 1½-hour circuit depicting the amorous torments of famous literary
figures, such as Eros (download the tour online; closed Tue; admission £9).
The Seine and its banks are Paris at its most seductive. From the
Louvre, stroll along the river’s edge to the islands, the Île de la Cité and
the Île St-Louis. Then cross the Seine at Pont de l’Archevêché (Archbishop’s
Bridge), the narrowest road bridge in Paris and one of several bridges covered
in padlocks – the locks are attached by couples who throw the key into the Seine
as a symbol of eternal love.
Île St-Louis is famed for Berthillon ice cream – the glacier was
founded here in 1954. Choose from 70 flavours, such as pear sorbet and salted
caramel at Maison Berthillon (29–31 Rue
Saint-Louis en l’Île), or at outlets around the island such as Le Flore en l’Île, where you can sample
a croissant and coffee as well (42 Quai d’Orléans; two scoops of ice cream £7,
pastries from £2).
The father of French romanticism lived at Musée National Eugène Delacroix, a
courtyard studio off a shaded square in the 6ème arrondissement, until his
death in 1863. Although his famous works are housed at the Louvre and Musée
d’Orsay, here you’ll find intimate pieces such as An Unmade Bed (6 Rue de
Furstenberg; closed Tue; entry £4, free with Louvre ticket).
Build up an appetite for lunch by taking a stroll along Rue Mouffetard
in the Latin Quarter – it’s filled with market stalls and food stores. At fromagerie Androuet cheeses can be
vacuum-packed to take home, while luscious macaroons in flavours such as
raspberry and blackcurrant can be found at Mococha light, alongside divine
chocolates. You can stock up on cute homeware at Mouffetard Folie’s (51 Rue
Well hidden in the Latin Quarter but known to Paris expats, Le Coupe-Chou is a maze of seven
candlelit rooms snaking through a vine-clad 17th-century townhouse and is
overwhelmingly romantic. It has beamed ceilings, antiques and serves dishes
such as beef bourguignon that capture the essence of the French countryside. As
in the days when Marlene Dietrich dined here, you’ll need to book ahead (9
& 11 Rue de Lanneau; closed for lunch May–Aug; mains from £14).
Before the sun sets, head to Musée de la
Vie Romantique, a small museum and garden at the end of a cobbled lane at
the Hôtel Scheffer-Renan. It’s devoted to the life and work of novelist
Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin (better known as George Sand) and her intellectual
circle, and is full of paintings and objets d’art (16 Rue Chaptal; closed Mon;
permanent collection free).
Chocolate is an art form at Chocolaterie
Joséphine Vannier, an extraordinary shop in the Marais. Edible creations
including musical instruments (saxophones, pianos, violins and electric
guitars) and shoes (high heels, flats and brogues) look too good to eat. At
weekends there’s a delicious collection of cookies available (4 Rue du Pas de
la Mule; closed Mon; 100g of chocolates from £7).
Finish your evening at the bistro, Le Vieux Belleville at the top of
Parc de Belleville. It’s an atmospheric venue for chansons – heart-felt,
lyric-driven music typified by Édith Piaf – featuring accordions and an organ
grinder. Songsheets are available but it’s not a tourist trap, rather a
favourite with locals, so you’ll need to book (12 Rue des Envierges;
performances 8pm-2am Thu-Sat; three-course dinner from £20).
Eurostar connects St Pancras
International and Ashford with Paris Gare du Nord (from £69). Air France, BA, easyJet and Jet2 fly to Roissy- Charles de
Gaulle and Orly airports from 11 UK cities (from £80). Ryanair flies to more
remote Beauvais Airport from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. Travel from the
airports to the city using RER trains or
express bus services Roissybus or Orlybus. Paris’s Métro is efficient (£10 for
a carnet of 10 tickets); buses are scenic but slow; while walking and Vélib’ bikes are good options (day
Where to stay
The Latin Quarter’s Hotel
la Demeure is run by a father–son team who speak English. Rooms include
iPod docks and wine glasses for BYO. Corner rooms have lovely balconies (51
Boulevard Saint Marcel; from £95). More cool than romantic, Hotel Amour, a former ‘pay by the hour
establishment’, pays homage to erotic Paris. Rooms at the black-clad Amour
feature art, erotic novels and vintage magazines (8 Rue Navarin; from £130).
With its rotating exhibitions, a stay at 18th-century Hotel Particulier Montmartre
is like staying in a modern art collector’s home. The five suites are designed
by two top French artists (23 Av Junot; from £355).
The article 'Mini guide to romance in Paris' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.