by Raphaelle Pasquier
That Paris is one of the world’s most romantic cities, is a universally accepted axiom. Who can resist the expressively curvaceous architecture, flower-bedecked parks filled with classic (mostly nude) sculpture, the Seine winding gracefully under ornate bridges -- and the coup de grâce, a spectacularly grand Tour Eiffel presiding over the entire scene.
To walk the streets of Paris is to imagine being with your beloved on a park bench at the Jardin des Tuileries...arms entwined, lips exploring...or walking hand-in-hand down a charming side street in Montmartre...then stopping at an adorable built-for-romance hotel....olala!
To aide our TCO pursuit of romance, Raphaelle Pasquier has complied a list of Paris’ most-alluring spots. In addition to being a native Parisian, Raphaelle is also uniquely qualified for this task as the digital ambassador for Vinealove.com -- the first online community to bring together wine lovers from around the world. Vinealove made its debut this past month on opening day of Vinexpo Bordeaux. It is a dating website, social network and communication hub for the wine industry all rolled into one. After all, what would romance in Paris -- or anywhere -- be without a good glass of wine?
MOST ROMANTIC PLACES
Musée Rodin: There’s nothing more romantic than strolling around the Musée Rodin on a sunny day. Most sculptures (including The Kiss, The Thinker) are outside, within one of the Paris’ most beautiful and intimate gardens. From the park you also have a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
Métro: Varenne (ligne 13) ou Invalides (ligne 13, ligne 8)
Formal gardens at the Musée Rodin
The Kiss by Auguste Rodin
Musicians playing along the Canal Saint Martin.
Canal Saint Martin: Avoid the crowd and tourists by escaping along the Canal Saint Martin. The Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood is located between Gare du Nord and République (Northeastern Paris) in the 10th arrondissement. It is a very romantic area where most locals come to picnic and play guitar along the banks of the Canal or on the iron footbridges.
Beautiful cafés and boutiques along the way.
Métro République (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11)
Promenade Plantée: One of the most original ways to explore eastern Paris (between Bastille and Bois de Vincennes). Take a break from city sidewalks and street traffic while seeing how historic preservation and modern urban-design objectives can work in harmony. The walk will take you overhead and underground, on viaduct footbridges and in tunnel trenches. The walk follows on railroad tracks that took trains from Bastille to Varenne-Saint-Maur from 1859 to 1969, when the line was abandoned and replaced with a sprinkling of gardens.
From Avenue Daumesnil to the Bois de Vincennes, up and down stairs and lifts (Paris 12) - Métro: Bastille.
Jardin du Luxembourg One of the finest gardens in Paris. Join the locals and bring your blanket, a bottle of wine and some snacks and spend the afternoon relaxing in the park. Bordering with the Sénat building, it is embellished with numerous statues and offers many attractions.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Love locks on Le Pont des Arts Bridge with Notre Dame in the background.
Le Pont des Arts: As countless films have proven, the Seine is the perfect backdrop for any romantic Parisian rendezvous. The Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge over the river, offers a picturesque view of Île de la Cité and has become a display place for artists and street performers. With street musicians providing the soundtrack to movie-perfect liaisons, it’s also a favorite spot for lovers, who come from near and far to visit the bridge, to attach padlocks emblazoned with initials and messages before throwing the locks' keys into the Seine below.
Métro Pont Neuf
MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS
Whimsical interior of Que Plume la Lune
Qui Plume la Lune
50 rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
Located in the heart of Bastille. Chicly elegant, with wooden tables and brick walls. A very intimate gastronomic restaurant with no menu. The chef changes the menu daily and even during the day depending on his mood and inspiration. So every table in the restaurant always gets something different.
Romantic views from the 425-year-old penthouse restaurant, La Tour d'Argent
La Tour d’Argent
15 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris
At this 425-year-old penthouse restaurant, couples can enjoy a panoramic view of the Seine and Notre Dame while drinking wine selected from a 500,000-bottle wine cellar. Ducks for the canard au sang are raised on La Tour’s private farm, and when the dish is ordered the diner receives a card with the bird’s serial number. For a romantic dinner the restaurant serves the quintessential French cuisine: not just a meal, but an event.
Entrance to La Tour d'Argent
500,000-bottle wine cellar at La Tour d'Argent
Interior of Semilla in Saint-Germain
54 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
American Juan Sanchez and New Zealander Drew Harré have become popular food and wine fixtures in their Saint-Germain neighborhood (with restaurants Fish, Cosi, and wine shop La Derniére Goutte). Semilla, is a tapas, or small-plate style restaurant. A trendy spot, located on rue de Seine in Saint Germain. Semilla is not quite a bistro, not quite fine dining, not quite Parisian-feeling, but very nearly all of those. The food is outstanding!
Terrace at La Palette
43 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
Located in the gallery and art district of Saint Germain in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The cafe is known for its large terrace that overlooks rue Jacques-Callot and is also popular among Fine Arts students and gallery owners.
In years past, La Pallete was frequented by Cézanne, Picasso and Brauqe and later by Ernest Hemingway and Jim Morrison. These days, celebrities like Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts have been spotted enjoying the romantic setting.
La Palette was once frequented by Cezanne
Tiny L'Ardoise offers a first-rate menu.
28 rue du Mont-Thabor, 1st E
A tiny café with a first-rate prix fixe dinner menu, for about $35E. Entrées include traditional French plates beautifully prepared: mushroom and foie gras ravioli with smoked duck; pork with procini mushrooms; red mullet with creole sauce. The staff is efficient and the wine list well chosen.
Au Passage specializes in small plates with equally appealing prices.
1 bis Passage Saint Sébastien, 75011 Paris
Located at the end of a long alley, this tucked away bistro offers a variety of small, well-priced plates: Burrata, oysters, lentil salad, escargot, and braised lamb are a few of the features. A solid wine list and music help create a mood for wooing.
9 rue de l’Eperon, 6th E
The pretty setting in this bistro is made for romance -- charming striped chairs in a spacious dining room that helps accommodate private moments. Menu offerings include stuffed suckling pig with turnip choucroute, seared slices of lamb with root vegetables, goose liver in wine. Best of all, the prices are extremely reasonable -- guaranteed NOT to break your heart.
The pretty, inviting setting at L'Epigramme is made for romance.
Chef Aymeric Kraml of L'Epigramme
For additional dining options see A Country Countess Visits the City of Lights by Countess Marnie de Vanssay featured in a previous issue of TCO.
MOST ROMANTIC HOTELS
Glamorous lobby of the Legend Hotel in Saint Germain.
151 rue de Rennes, 75006 Paris
This boutique hotel located in the heart of Saint Germain, on the bustling rue de Rennes, offers romantic rooms imaginatively decorated. Contemporary furniture and fantastic lighting created by the French designer Virginie Cauet create a warm and romantic ambiance.
Chic guest rooms at the Legend Hotel
Hôtel du Petit Moulin with eye-catching decor by Christian Lacroix
Hôtel du Petit Moulin
29/31 rue de Poitou, 75003 Paris
The Hôtel du Petit Moulin is an authentic residence, decorated throughout by Christian Lacroix. With its location in the Haut Marais district, guests will discover a host of treasures.
Colorful guest rooms at Hôtel du Petit Moulin
Raphaelle Pasquier Graduated from the International business school of La Rochelle in France and Fort Lewis College in Colorado, then started her career with a family-owned winery in the Loire Valley.
After a year of exploring the historical wine region of the Loire, she decided to move to California to learn about American wines. Raphaelle worked at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley guiding visitors through the Domaine and acquiring a new taste for “New World” wines. A year later, she continued her travels across the Pacific Ocean and landed in Shanghai. There, she worked for DT ASAIA, an importer of international wines, where she was in charge of wine education.
Later, she decided to switch continents again and moved to New York as the US export manager for Labouré-Roi, the third largest winery in Burgundy, traveling frequently between Burgundy and the United States.
Says Raphaelle: “After 4 years with Labouré-Roi I have decided to start a new adventure -- a new challenge called Vinealove.com, where I am working as a digital ambassador in the United States.
Hope to see you soon on Vinealove.com. Santé!
Click on the map pins for information about locations mentioned in the article.