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16 romantic things to do in Paris

Going on a date in the City of Love? Avoid the clichéd tourist traps – these are the most romantic things to do in Paris

By Flora Hudson and Huw Oliver |
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Romantic things to do in Paris
Photograph: Pixabay

A trip to Paris with your special someone is a romantic rite of passage. Everyone comes here en couple at some point, probably multiple times – so the pressure’s on to find some seriously magical things to do while you’re here. If you’re keen to avoid the clichéd tourist traps, we’ve hand-picked a range of the less obvious, more under-the-radar date spots across the city. From a gentle stroll through one of the French capital’s prettiest parks to cocktails à deux at one of many world-class bars, there’s something to impress any date here. These are the most romantic things to do in Paris according to us.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Paris

Romantic things to do in Paris

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The park in the Place des Vosges in the Marais
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Zairon

Places des Vosges

Date idea: An early-evening picnic in a stately square

Place des Vosges is pure eye-candy – a 17th-century peach stone beauty that was built for Henri IV, with shop-filled arcades and a stately park that lets you lounge on the grass (a rarity in Paris). It’s the ideal spot for a picnic on a warm summer evening, and there’s plenty more to get up to afterwards in the vicinity, including the Maison de Victor Hugo and countless charming cafés, restaurants and bars.

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Château de Versailles
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Château de Versailles

icon-location-pin Paris et sa banlieue

Date idea: Rent a rowing boat on the Grand Canal

It goes without saying that the flamboyant gardens at Versailles are a decent place to take a date. But if you want to do something that’ll really blow them away, then why not rent a rowing boat on the Grand Canal? Be sure to explore the rest of the garden as well  terraces, parterres, lush groves and a spectacular series of fountains mean a date at Versailles will definitely be one to remember.

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Promenade Plantée
Photograph: David Lefranc / Paris Tourist Office
Things to do

La Coulée Verte

icon-location-pin Bercy

Date idea: Stroll along an abandoned city-centre trainline

On this spot there used to be a trainline between Bastille and Vincennes. While the Bastille station was eventually replaced by today’s Opera house, the viaduct was converted into glass-fronted workshops and boutiques for local artisans and the old lines became La Coulée Verte – a 5km long trail (also known as the Promenade Plantée) made up of elevated gardens, the Jardin de Reuilly and tree-lined cycling paths.

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Grand Action cinema in Paris
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / LPLT
Cinemas

Grand Action

icon-location-pin Jussieu

Date idea: Catch a vintage movie at a Left Bank institution

Let’s be honest, taking a date to the movies is a pretty safe option. But in Paris, even this becomes a whole load more romantic. We say try the Grand Action, in the historic area around the Sorbonne on the Left Bank. One of our favourite independent cinemas in Paris, it’s renowned for screening new prints of old movies. Heaven for anyone who’s nostalgic for Tinseltown classics and quality US independents.

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5
Musée de Montmartre
Photograph: Jean-Pierre Delagarde
Museums, History

Musée de Montmartre

icon-location-pin Montmartre

Date idea: Explore one of Montmartre’s most charming buildings

Hidden down a cobbled street around the back of the Sacré Cœur, this museum must be one of Montmartre’s most charming buildings (and there’s plenty of competition). Formerly a home and meeting place for artists, number 12 Rue Cortot overflows with recognisable works by Auguste Renoir, Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo.

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The interior of Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité
Photograph: Flickr / Pedro Szekely
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Sainte-Chapelle

icon-location-pin Ile de la Cité

Date idea: Admire kaleidoscopic stained glass on the Île de la Cité 

Devout King Louis IX had a hobby of accumulating holy relics. In the 1240s, he bought what was advertised as the Crown of Thorns, and ordered Pierre de Montreuil to design a shrine. The result was Sainte-Chapelle. With 15m (49ft) windows, the upper level appears to consist almost entirely of stained glass. The windows depict hundreds of scenes from the Old and New Testaments, culminating with the Apocalypse in the rose window.

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Yuzuka
Photograph: Yuzuka

Yuzuka

Date idea: A massage à deux in a Japanese salon

A massage may not be the most obvious date suggestion, but we think Yuzuka in the 7th arrondissement is pretty special – and definitely worth taking someone special to. The décor of this Japanese salon is calmly minimalist, with soothing neutral tones bathing the walls. If you’re after a first-rate massage à deux, Yuzuka is a great way to let off steam together.

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Photograph: Septime
Bars and pubs, Wine bars

Septime La Cave

icon-location-pin Roquette

Date idea: Five-star bottles and delectable small plates 

A superb selection of wines, delectable smoked meats on toast, and a cosy environment to enjoy it all in. Sounds a bit like heaven, or maybe just the annex of Septime, Bertrand Grébaut’s buzzing Michelin-starred restaurant, which has become particularly popular since Beyoncé’s much publicised visit in 2013. A rotating selection of five whites and five reds are sold by the glass (between €4.50 and €8), including an exquisitely fruity Fleur Sauvage Jouret.

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Duc des Lombards
Photograph: Philippe Marchin
Bars and pubs, Café bars

Au Duc des Lombards

icon-location-pin Les Halles

Date idea: Snuggle up at Paris’s top jazz club

Cosy up at this venerable jazz spot that goes from strength to strength, attracting a high calibre of performer and a savvy crowd. Claim a pew, order a glass of wine, and enjoy a foot-tapping evening ensemble

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Musée de la Vie Romantique
Photograph: Didier Messina
Museums, Art and design

Musée de la Vie Romantique

icon-location-pin Saint-Georges

Date idea: Tea and cake in a quaint, tucked-away museum

Sure, it’s the wrong kind of Romantic, but this place is romantic with a lower-case ‘r’ all the same. When Dutch artist Ary Scheffer built this small villa in 1830, the area teemed with composers, writers and artists. Novelist George Sand was a guest at Scheffer’s soirées, along with great names such as Chopin and Liszt. The museum is devoted to Sand, plus Scheffer’s paintings and other mementoes of the Romantic era. The museum’s tree-lined courtyard café and greenhouse are the perfect secret summer retreat.

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Photograph: La Belle Hortense
Bars and pubs, Wine bars

La Belle Hortense

icon-location-pin Le Marais

Date idea: Share a carafe at a book reading

A tranquil boozy and literary escape from the frenetically trendy streets of the Marais, La Belle Hortense with its pretty blue frontage is all about settling down with a good book and a nice wine. Hosting readings and literary events, the bar-boutique’s walls are lined with bottles and books, including new releases, rare volumes, independent poetry and classic collections. The wine list is enormous – quite pricey by the glass but much better value by the bottle or carafe.

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La Vache dans les Vignes
Photograph: Edouard
Shopping, Specialist food and drink

La Vache dans les Vignes

icon-location-pin Canal Saint-Martin

Date idea: A luxury cheese tasting in a dinky setting

This tiny cheesemonger by the Canal Saint-Martin brims with dairy delights. Selling a wide range of cheeses, wines and cured meats to take home, La Vache dans les Vignes also serves its produce on the spot for just a few extra euros. With seating for just 14, the owners have created a warm atmosphere with bottles of wine stacked to the ceiling on wooden shelves, and a glass shop front looking out onto the canal.

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Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Ben Lieu Song
Shopping

Galerie Vivienne

icon-location-pin 2e arrondissement

Date idea: Browse upscale boutiques at an atmospheric passage couvert

An elegant arcade dating back to 1873, the Galerie Vivienne is in perfect condition, all polished wood, glass and wrought iron, its mosaic-inlaid corridors lined with plants. Even during busy times it feels relatively tranquil, making it a pure pleasure to browse the chic boutiques – look out for Jean-Paul Gaulthier, Nathalie Garçon, bijou toystore Si Tu Veux and venerable wine cellar and deli Legrand Filles et Fils. At the entrance on the Rue des Petits-Champs, Bistrot Vivienne is a charming and reliable pitstop, with a romantic private dining room upstairs.

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Photograph: Terrass Hotel
Hotels

Terrass Hotel

icon-location-pin Abbesses

Date idea: Classy cocktails – with panoramic views

For a night at the top, the bar of Montmartre’s Terrass hotel is exceptional even by Paris’s standards. Yes, it’s had a swanky, contemporary makeover, mixes expensive cocktails, and serves an above-average menu to its extremely well-heeled clientele in an atmosphere of velvet-lined chic. That’s all very nice, but can be found in endless permutations across the city. But nowhere else has this view.

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The elevated folly and artificial lake at the Parc de Buttes-Chaumont
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Traktorminze
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

icon-location-pin Buttes-Chaumont

Date idea: Kick back at Paris’s hilliest (and most beautiful) park

If you’re looking for something a little less formal than the Tuileries, one patch of greenery definitely worth a stroll is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Set high up in Belleville and often missed by weekenders keen not to stray too far from the tourist loop, this 19th arrondissement paradise is one of the city’s most magical green spaces. Expect meandering paths, waterfalls, temples... and cliffs. In Paris.

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Lavinia
Photograph: Lavinia
Shopping, Off licences

Lavinia

icon-location-pin 1er arrondissement

Date idea: Sample fine international wines at a magnificent cave

Lavinia stocks a broad selection of French alongside many non-French wines; its glassed-in cave has everything from a 1945 Mouton-Rothschild at €22,000 to trendy and ‘fragile’ wines for under €10. Try the dégustation machines on the ground floor, which allow customers to taste a sip of up to 10 wines for €10.

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Going on somewhere afterwards?

Bars and pubs, Wine bars

The 50 best bars in Paris

We all know Paris has a decent rep when it comes to food. You might even say it’s Europe’s gastronomic capital – just walk down any road off the Place de la Bastille and that should become quite clear. But it’s only recently that this city’s turned into one of the coolest places to drink too. Here’s where we think you should head first. 

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