I did the unthinkable last weekend. I organised a double date. Oh the horror I experienced, I wouldn’t know where to begin. I could start by describing what an obnoxiously sunny day it was, how the restaurant’s terrace indecently over-looked a glistening canal, and terrifyingly, the conversation post-main course turned to weekend escapes in the French countryside– couples weekends. Despicable.
Okay fine, so maybe I enjoyed it a little more than I should have. Maybe I do enjoy a double date here and there, discovering the romance of Paris, maybe I’m a big fat sucker for it all, just like the rest of you.
Alright, since we’re on the topic, I thought I might give in and do a MessyNessy guide to romance in Paris. There are plenty of articles on google search that spew predictable and repetitive tour guide ideas such as tea at the Ritz, a walk along the Seine (duh), macaroons at Laduree– absolutely nothing original there.
So voilà, a bit of local advice (yes, I just called myself a local) of romantic things to do in Paris.
You’re sat holding a pink balloon in a spot you chose along the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, a four-kilometer-long picturesque canal lined with art galleries and old warehouses converted into trendy lofts. You were given the pink balloon by Pink Flamingo, a pizza parlour down the nearby Rue Bichat, whose bicycle delivery man will use the balloon as a beacon to locate you on the canal and present you your order– a pizza pie reminiscent of some of the best New York-style slices.
A Franco-American couple co-owns the Pink Flamingo, a stylish little company that brands itself “pas comme les autres” (not like the others) on the side of its pizza boxes. Indeed, this will be one pizza delivery you won’t forget.
Pink Flamingo Canal is in northern Paris, 67 rue Bichat, 75010 (Metr0 Jacques Bonsergent or Colonel Fabien)
Tel.: +33(0)142 023 170
Pink Flamingo also has pizza parlours in various locations around Paris including the Marais and Montmartre.
Blues jazz– you know the kind that consists of a soulful harmonica player, a dirty electric guitar solo and lyrics like, “woman you ain’t no good for me”– is seriously seductive music. If you were on a date hoping to get lucky, it would literally do the job for you. On Sunday nights, Le Caveau des Oubliettes, is exactly where you need to go to be seduced by the best live blues in Paris. The oldest jazz club in Paris and remembered as a hotspot or post-war jazz, there’s nothing much to the bar upstairs, but it’s the 12th century underground wine cellar that draws in the music-savvy crowd. It’s cosy to say the least, be sure to get there before 9pm to get a seat.
Le Caveau des Oubliettes, 52 Rue Galande , 75005 Paris (Métro: Maubert Mutualité)
Follow these instructions. Wake up early (I’m talking 9 am to avoid the crowds). From the left bank, a stone’s throw from the Notre Dame Cathedral, make your way over the Pont de l’Archevêché (Metro: Maubert Mutualite). As you walk across, you’ll notice hundreds of padlocks attached to the bridge– a practice nicknamed ‘love-locking’.
They’ve been put there by couples who declare their affections by locking a padlock onto the bridge and throwing away the key into the river. Awww. Anyhoo, moving on. Continue forward and veer right onto another (ridiculously romantic) bridge that brings you to the ile-Saint-Louis– the place where every Parisian dreams of owning an apartment.
Take a front row seat to one of the most romantic spots in my professional opinion– (terrace views of the river Seine, a cobblestone bridge where a little old man sits playing on his old wooden piano)– and have one of the most romantic breakfasts of your life at the Flore en Ile. You’ll have to blow on your steaming hot pain au chocolate that’s just come out of the in-house oven.
Flore en Ile, 42 Quai Orléans, 75004 click to view map here
When thinking of romantic things to do, I’ll admit, shopping isn’t the first thing that would come to mind. But in the newly opened Parisian concept store Merci, wander from room to room as if discovering someone’s beautiful converted loft home and you’ll find it hard not to fall in love. Buy some roses from the florist, curl up on the bookshop sofa and choose your next book over a glass of lemonade, find your scent in the perfumerie or browse vintage pieces sold at manufacturer’s costs– this really is a couple’s shopping experience.
Merci’s expansive warehouse space mingles dining, shopping, and lounging areas punctuated by original art, sculpture, and furniture made specifically for the store. The most impressive thing about the whole endeavor, however, is that after paying overhead, all of the proceeds from Merci go to run a co-op for women in Madagascar. The owners, Marie-France and Bernard Cohen [the founders of the French label Bonpoint], aim to build a workshop for the women, “to give them style and patterns, materials and colors, to help them make items to sell in the markets and then maybe internationally.”
111 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris tel: 01 42 77 00 33 Métro Saint Sébastien-Froissart
If the weather is decent enough, tango enthusiasts gather at the mini amphi-theatres that look out onto the Seine in the 5th arrondissement to dance seductively until twilight. Now I’m not saying myself or my boyfriend had the ‘cohonas’ to get up and try the tango ourselves, but sitting with a bottle of wine on the steps, watching these dancers was absolutely mesmerizing. A little old man sits on the edge of the river with his radio playing tango-esque music and guarding the dancers’ belongings. Spectators watch quietly, listening to the dragging of tango feet on the stone quai. Beautiful Parisian women turn up alone here each night with their dancing shoes, waiting to be asked to dance by total strangers. It’s people watching with a very sexy twist.
Square Tino Rossi, Quai St. Bernard, in the 5th Arrondissement (Métro stop Jussieu or Gare Austerlitz)
Locals hauling around their grocery baskets, the lively market vendors, the smell of onion galettes and homemade pumpkin muffins, the taste of freshly pressed apple cider– French open-air food markets will charm your sock off, there’s no doubt about it. On my last visit, I took a few photographs, knowing there would one day be an occasion for me to feature them on here…
There are two food markets in Paris known for the best produce in town…
On Saturday morning there is the marché Avenue du President Wilson, known as the gourmande’s market, said to be the largest in Paris and boasting one the best selections of fish and vegetables in the whole city, including an endless variety of other regional and European specialties.
9 h 00 – 14 h 00 (Metro: Alma-Marceau, Iéna)
On Sunday morning there is the Marché Bio (organic market) on Boulevard Raspail. Raw chocolate, Stevia (full leaf or ground), trays of fresh wheatgrass, purple maize juice [excuse the organic foodie talk]– this is where chefs come to buy ingredients for some of the best restaurants in Paris and French screen legends such as Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu come to do their weekly groceries.
9 h – 14 h 00 (Métro Rennes)
I hope I didn’t get too cheesy on you there…
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