Valentine’s Day is less than a week away and there isn’t any place more romantic than Paris, the City of Love. Just walking down the cobblestone streets, cuddled up on a sidewalk café, or sitting in a museum and staring at an amazing piece of art, it’s almost impossible not to be in love in Paris. The many lovers that can be seen strolling down the historic streets, hand in hand, help prove this point. Here are some favorite spots for soaking up the romance.
Every day in Paris my feet need to walk across the beautiful Pont des Arts. This pedestrian bridge over the Seine connects the Institut de France (housing the Académie Française that guards the art of the French language) on the rive gauche to the Musée du Louvre (home to the treasures of France) on the rive droite. On one side as you look to the horizon you will see the Musée d’Orsay, Louvre, Grand Palais, and of course the Eiffel Tower. Turn around and you see the spires of Notre-Dame de Paris and the willow tree dancing on the edge of the Seine in the Square du Vert-Galant named for the amorous King Henri IV who stands just above on the Pont Neuf atop his horse. As you stand on the wood slats of the bridge, you can hear La Vie en Rose from the resident accordion player and the river slowly moves below your feet. Time it just right and as it gets dark on the strike of the hour, you can see the Iron Lady sparkling against the night sky.
At the east end of the Jardin des Tuileries, you get a great “two for one” on the romantic scale. As you wander through this beautiful garden that stretches from the Musée du Louvre to the Place de la Concorde, you will pass the pond that on a sunny day will be crowded with Parisians in the iconic green chairs tilted towards the sun. Walk up the left side, towards the Musée de l’Orangerie on the Fer à Cheval. When you reach the top, you will be greeted with one of the best views of Paris at sunset. The pink and orange sky is the backdrop for the Eiffel Tower, the Obelisk, and the allegorical statues representing Lyon and Marseille. Along the terrace is the bronze copy of August Rodin’s famous statue Le Baiser, The Kiss. It was originally made for his ambitious project called “The Gates of Hell”– which was based on Dante’s Inferno story of Francesca falling in love with her husband’s brother Paolo over the tales of Lancelot and Guinevere, which you can see in the sculpture’s hand. The embrace and passion that exude from this statue is sure to get anyone in the romantic mood.
A visit to Montmartre is always necessary, but plan your trip to the historic home of the great artists for after sunset. The streets will be empty and you will have most of it to yourself. No tourists snapping selfies or looking for the sites they have seen in the Amélie film, just a few people enjoying the glowing white stones of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica under the moonlight. In front of the Basilica is a long set of steps, but instead of looking down, look straight out. In front of you is all of Paris. The city will be lit up as far as you can see; the golden dome of Les Invalides, Notre Dame de Paris and the sparkling Tour Eiffel stand out like jewels on the horizon. All around you, couples will be embracing on the steps, like a Rodin sculpture appreciating this special moment. Take a minute to admire the beauty that is spread out in front of you.
No matter the season, a walk along the Seine is one of the best ways to cut out the hustle and bustle of the city. Early in the morning, walk along the edge towards Notre Dame and you will see the golden glow on the river as the sun rises. While most of Paris still sleeps, the smooth, glass-like surface of the Seine reflects the iconic buildings and the sun’s rays. As the weather warms up, grab a picnic complete with cheese, baguettes and a bottle or two of rosé and find a spot in the sun. As your legs dangle over the edge, glass in hand, nestled close to your loved one, it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else in the world.
Lead photo credit : A night-time view of the Pont des Arts leading to the Institut de France. Photo: Joe de Sousa/ Flickr/ Public domain