Walk through the city to discover why it’s one of the world’s most romantic destinations.
In creative arts and pop culture, Paris has repeatedly been painted with such panache that for centuries, everyone from dreamers to hopeless romantics have swooned over its timeless, magical touch. But how true to life is this romanticised version? I was sceptical, but decided to give this Bohemian version of Paris a chance. With my equally sceptical husband in tow, we walked through the streets, and were pleasantly surprised. The ambience and surroundings, with classic French nuances, make you feel as though you’re walking through an endless movie set. And that is an experience you must allow yourself the next time you’re in Paris. Here’s a list of the best walks:
LATIN QUARTER: For spontaneous exploring and cafe hopping The city’s Latin Quarter is always lively and its many cafes, bistros, bars and squares are always buzzing. St Germain Boulevard and St-Michel are the main central intersections with a myriad of winding lanes breaking off into multiple, smaller lanes. Whether you find yourself at a low lit restaurant or live jazz bar, near squares like Place Saint-Michel and Place St Andre des Arts or wandering on over by the Notre Dame Cathedral before tucking into the cute 1920s-inspired bookshop Shakespeare and Company, the Latin Quarter is a perfect place to spend a romantic evening.
The Latin Quarter is a tourist hub. Go in without expectations, tune out the other tourists and you’ll soon be mesmerized by your surroundings. It’s all in the details and little moments.
MONTMARTRE: For panoramic city views and charming streets The famous former enclave of creative heavyweights like Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh, present day Montmartre still holds its yesteryear charm, attracting tourists and filmmakers from around the world. Perched on a hill, full of winding, cobbled streets and pastel coloured boutiques; be sure to wander up the steps of the white-domed Sacré-Coeur Basilica (the highest point in Paris). Cosy up to your partner on the steps and take in the sweeping views of the city below.
Go either early morning or evening. Afternoons are busy with like-minded travellers trying to find their own romantic hot spot.
LOUVRE AT DUSK: For its architecture, lighting and ambience The Louvre is a major tourist attraction in Paris. By day, you will see swarms of guidebook-toting tourists lining up to see the museum and its famous contents. But, by night, with no one in sight, it becomes a quiet haven for couples. Its surreal architecture —softly-lit in the evening—can dazzle and revitalise even the most jaded romantics.
In the distance, you can see the brightly-lit Eiffel Tower. The other romantics are over there, jostling with the hordes of tourists and screaming children. But you and your beau are at the Louvre, experiencing a slice of Paris by your lonesome twosome. If there is ever a truly romantic moment to be had in the City of Lights, this is it.
JARDIN DES TUILERIES: For romantic tree lined nature walks Not only is Paris full of architectural wonder, it also has plenty of green spaces and public gardens, both intimate and vast in size. Originally part of the private gardens of the Tuileries Palace, the Jardin des Tuileries became a public park after the French Revolution. Flowing fountains, dramatic sculptures and calming ponds flanked by leafy trees and landscaped grounds make this 28-hectare garden a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike.
During summer, Jardin des Tuileries plays host to La Fête Foraine, a summer carnival filled with fun rides, games and street food. While not inherently and quintessentially romantic, it’s fun.
SEINE RIVER + CANAL SAINT-MARTIN: For scenic riverfront nights For a truly romantic Parisian experience, a walk along the banks of the Seine is a must. Explore the many bridges, sculptures and outdoor bookshops along the riverfront. During the day, the water may not be so impressive, but a walk along the banks in the evening reveals shimmering reflections lined by rows of scenic architecture.
Already walked the Seine? Go where the locals go instead—the right bank. Canal Saint-Martin is the young and creative area resurrected by locals and its lively cafes, boutiques and wine bars bordered by picturesque canals are always lively and are set respectably away from the tourist zone.