Paris is a rich city, full of activities, culture, history… It is impossible to get bored in the City of Light.
But Paris is, above all, the city of romance, where millions of couples come each year. It offers a warm atmosphere thanks to its architecture, lights, monuments and various restaurants even during the colder months. And if you stretch your Autumn trip till December, you have to make sure to visit some of the French Christmas markets.
Who better than Laurence, a Paris native and founder of Paris-Toujours, an expert agency that organises personalised trips in Paris and around France, to suggest a romantic 3-day sojourn in what is also known as the City of Love. She suggests some of the typical and famous parts of Paris but also some of the more unusual things to do.
I asked her to give us the low-down from her insider knowledge on Paris and propose a trip to celebrate love and even some of the best places to stay at the end of the post.
Day 1: Island hopping and river living
Assuming you arrive in the morning, take a taxi from the airport to your hotel. In the afternoon, visit one of the islands in Paris, considered the birthplace of the city. You could start with the smaller of the two, Ile Saint-Louis, the former residence of Parisian aristocracy, where you can marvel at beautiful 17th and 18th century mansions with architectural heritage value. Make sure to indulge in Berthillon ice creams, considered the best in Paris.
After Ile Saint-Louis, head to Ile de la Cité where you will be able to admire various famous monuments such as the Law Court, the Holy Chapel and, of course, Notre Dame Cathedral. I recommend visiting the tower of the Cathedral after it closes to the public and watch the sunset from above in a specially arranged small size tour.
Go home and get ready for dinner for two at one of these two options. You can book a luxurious dinner at Dom Juan, a Parisian yacht setting sail from the embarkation point a few blocks from Notre Dame and watch the sun go down over the Seine.
Dom Juan is a sumptuous yacht with a restaurant headed by Guy Krenzer, who was awarded “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, the most prestigious award in French cuisine. In the 2,5h that the cruise lasts, you will see Paris from a different perspective.
Alternatively, you could have a lovely dinner at “Les fous de l’île”. Located on Ile Saint-Louis, the restaurant serves genuine French cuisine in a warm and modern atmosphere. The prices are very reasonable for the high quality of the food.
Day 2: Paris toujours
Even if your hotel offers a buffet, go for the typical Parisian breakfast in a café-brasserie. It is hard to give a specific recommendation and almost every neighbourhood cafe will be great. So if you are feeling adventurous, go out into the street and look for one that speaks to you.
After a hearty ham and cheese baguette and a cafe au lait Paris’ most emblematic place is next on the list. A romantic trip to Paris would not be complete without the Tour Eiffel. Most people observe the structure from outside, but Laurence recommends booking a guide for the ultimate backstage visit of hidden places not accessible to the general public, like the historic elevator machinery room.
For lunch you can eat at one of Paris’ most expensive restaurants which has the city’s best views: Le Jules Verne, on the top of the Eiffel Tower. Their lunch menu is much more affordable than the decadent degustation dinner menus.
Alternatively, you may book the Ciel de Paris, another restaurant with stunning views of the city. This time from the top of the Montparnasse Tower, at more affordable prices than Le Jules Verne. Lastly, you may also choose “Chez Carette”. Located on Trocadero Square, just below the Eiffel Tower, the restaurant is a well-known address in the area for traditional French cuisine and it is especially well known for its desserts and pastries.
In the afternoon, Laurence recommends a peaceful stroll through Le Marais with a private guide who will share the history and charm of this part of Paris. While today Le Marais is a very trendy neighbourhood, it owes its name to the old dry swamps on which it was built (Marais means swamp in French) and is one of the few areas in Paris with remains from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Cultured up and having enjoyed a true Parisian day, dinner cannot be a let down. You can either book “L’Ambroisie”, a 3 star Michelin restaurant opened in 1986 that is often considered the most beautiful restaurant in Paris and, undoubtedly, a true jewel in French gastronomy. For added romance, “L’Ambroisie” is located on the Place des Vosges, one of the most beautiful squares in Paris and home of Victor Hugo. Reservation several months ahead is required.
If you prefer something cozier and less over the top, “Les Chouettes” is a pretty, nicely furbished restaurant at the heart of Le Marais with a cheerful atmosphere and a modern take on French cuisine.
After dinner, enjoy a nice drink at Le Perchoir Marais on a rooftop at the top of the BHV department store in front of the Town Hall.
Day 3: Classic Montmartre
Head out to the ‘New Athens’ district and have breakfast in one of the numerous cozy cafés of the 9th Arrondissement, near the Rue des Martyrs. One of the best bistros in Paris is Le Pantruche, so give it a try.
After breakfast, explore the New Athens area, a typical Parisian neighbourhood. You will be seduced by all the typical Parisian shops with their historical front store windows. Be sure to stop at Sebastien Gaudard pastry store on Rue des Martyrs, try the jams at La Chambre aux confitures and the cream puffs from Popelini.
Afterwards, you should visit the Museum of Romantic Life, which offers a hidden garden in a private mansion in the middle of Paris.
For lunch try “Le Grain de Folie”, a small restaurant located on Rue Notre-Dame de Lorette. There are only a few tables and the manager is very welcoming, making this quite an intimate and comfortable place where you will feel at home. Expect the food to be traditional French, simple and prepared with fresh produce, making sure that you feel exactly like you are in Paris.
After lunch, take a tour around Montmartre with a private guide and visit the most famous landmarks in the area like the Moulin Rouge, the Sacré-Coeur or the Place du Tertre. Your expert guide will also show you the other side of Montmartre. You will discover the opposite area of La Butte with the vineyard of Montmartre, the Place Dalida and the Villa Leandre, one of the most beautiful hidden streets in Paris. At the end of your tour go back to your hotel to relax.
Your last evening meal should leave a lasting memory. Choose between dinner at the Hotel Particulier Montmartre, a candle-lit meal in a hotel, hidden in the middle of Montmartre, or a modern and young innovative dinner at Seb’on.
In the warmer months, Hotel Particulier Montmartre offers garden eating, away from the crowds and the noise of the city. Seb’on is in one of the most popular areas in Paris, near the metro Abbesses. Set up by a chef and an interior designer, their mixed talents make for a sensational result. The cuisine is simple and authentic with fresh produce, simple recipes, and great talent.
Where to stay for Autumn romance in Paris
Hotel Le Clos Medicis is a lovely 3-star independent hotel located in the 6th arrondissement and 200m from the Luxembourg Gardens. The atmosphere of the hotel is warm and you can have your breakfast served on the small patio in the summer. A great place for breakfast near Le Clos Medicis is Le Hibou
Hotel Le Saint is a 4 star hotel located in the 7th arrondissement, one of the most elegant neighbourhoods in Paris. The hotel is an elegant private mansion. Grand with spacious rooms and refined decor, you will feel as if you were visiting aristocratic friends. The hotel was renovated a year ago and it now has a restaurant, Le Kult, a gym and a spa. Go for breakfast to Le Cafe de Flore for a true ‘St Germain des Prés’ experience
Hotel Regina is located just in front of the Tuileries Gardens, Le Louvre, and the Place des Pyramides. Regina has kept its old Belle Epoque style including an English Bar with wooden walls and chandeliers. The view from the Eiffel Tower Junior Suite is extraordinary with the entire city at your feet. For the ultimate breakfast nearby with what is, perhaps, the city’s most famous frame head to Le Cafe Marly, and enjoy a pastry in front of the Louvre Pyramid
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