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12 Secret places for romantics in Paris

BY Richard Mellor

1st Jan 2015 Travel

12 Secret places for romantics in Paris

Heading to Paris for Valentine’s Day, but determined to dodge the masses? Only the locals know about these smooch-worthy spots.

1. La Butte aux Cailles

A ghost of 19th-century Paris prolongs in this beautiful microquartier to the southeast. There’s a definite Montmartre echo to the cobbled hilltop streets but, crucially, camera-clickers are absent. Amble around and finish with a glass of wine on Place Paul-Verlaine.


2. Passage couverts

Paris once boasted about 130 glass-roofed arcades—posh places where the beau monde came to stroll, shop and socialise. Only 24 now remain. Among the best preserved is Galerie Vivienne, complete with mosaic floors and domed rotunda.


3. Rue Georges Lardennois

From beside lovely Parc de Buttes-Chaumont in eastern Paris, climb this wiggly suburban street to enjoy Paris’s finest views, found next to an unexpected vineyard. If you’re lucky, sunlight will illuminate the Sacré-Cœur’s milky roof.


4. Petite Ceinture

A former perimeter railway, the Petite Ceinture (Little Belt) was abandoned to plants, graffiti artists and tramps for years. Now sections are open as urban nature trails, and their surprising tranquillity lures lovers.


5. Le Perchoir Marais

Le Perchoir run rooftop bars around Paris. In cooler climes, their most central haunt— atop Le Marais’s BHV department store—comes to the fore. Why? Because it’s reminiscent pf a chalet, courtesy of heaters, cushions and animal pelts. Also helping to eliminate goosebumps are a selection of superb cocktails.


6. Place Furstenberg

Paris excels at romantic squares: dusty places of plane trees, benches, the odd motorbike and gorgeous buildings. This chic snoozer ranks among the best, aided by its Musée Eugène Delacroix: a little museum in painter’s former flat-cum-studio.


7. Temple d’Amour

To spy the Temple of Love you must journey to Bois de Vincennes, the city’s biggest green space. That requires a long metro ride (to Porte Dorée) and 20-minute walk. From March–November, you can also charter a boat and sail across Lac Daumesnil to the temple’s island. Phew. Then again, there’s no length you wouldn’t go to for your amour, right?


8. Best bistros

It’s almost impossible not to dine in a small, wicker-chaired bistro while visiting Paris. Finding a great one is much tougher. Head to Rue Paul-Bert in the 11th arrondissement, however, and you’ll almost exclusively encounter high-quality establishments.


9. Musée de la Vie Romantique

Romantic” here refers to the paintings by luminaries such as Ary Scheffer. Yet a lower-case r is also applicable, especially to the gallery’s surrounding leafy lane and its lilac beds. An adjacent greenhouse serves lunches and teas.


10. Riverside dancing

Unless it pours with rain, dancers gather in semi-circular squares along the Seine’s 5th arrondissement boardwalk between Wednesday and Sunday. There are free classes from 7pm, then demos from 8.30pm. Jive, salsa and sultry tango are covered until twilight. Many people just bring some wine and come to watch.


11. Musée de Montmartre’s garden

Montmartre is lovely, but so busy. There is one more tranquil spot, though: find the Musée de Montmartre, and venture out back into its chaotic garden where Renoir once maintained a studio. At the far end, past brambles, is an unpromising staircase— go down it, and a magnificent vista soon stretches away over the Clos Montmartre vineyard. 


12. Square du Vert-Galant

Île de la Cité is an isle on the Seine, which acts as a stepping-stone for five bridges. As well as Notre Dame, it contains a tiny, pointy garden at its western tip. Surprisingly few people visit, despite the wondrous riverscapes and visibility from Pont Neuf.

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