Is there a better place for a romantic Valentine’s weekend than Paris? I know, I know, it might be a little cliché but seriously, even after having lived in this city for 6 years, I still get all mushy inside when I see the Eiffel Tower, walk through parks, or cross the Seine on one of the many gorgeous bridges. There simply is no better place than Paris when it comes to romance.
But this romance can come with a hefty price tag, which is great if you either have the budget or you have saved up for a special occasion, but fret not. Even if you are a little strapped for cash, Paris can serve up a romantic experience in no time.
Here are some of my best tips for romantic experiences and places, no matter your budget.
Best Romantic Experiences In Paris
Romantic experiences are plentiful in Paris, all you have to do is walk along the Seine, and there you are. But for that little bit of extra special, be it celebrating an anniversary, a proposal, or simply a loved-up weekend away, there are some extraordinary little things you can organize to make your Valentine’s Day even more special.
Dinner Cruise In The Heart Of Paris
There are dinner cruises and then there are dinner cruises. Sailing up and down the Seine at night in a Bateaux Mouche is simply magical with all the sights lit up and sparkling in the dark along the way. Add a nice dinner and some champagne and you’ll have the makings of a unique romantic evening. But there is an extra step you can take, complete with a chauffeur picking you up from your hotel and dropping you off again, and that is with a “marriage proposal” dinner. No, you don’t have to propose, but you can simply enjoy the extra little touches throughout the evening.
You don’t have to forgo a cruise in Paris if your budget doesn’t stretch to a chauffeur-driven car, instead hop onto a guinguette, a typically French café boat famous for live music and dancing. Setting off from Bastille, you’ll take a cruise along the canal in the heart of Paris. Enjoy cocktails and live music while enjoying the setting under a myriad of twinkling lights. And you can add a cheese and charcuterie board for a mere 10 euros ($11.14), so who says you can’t afford a dinner cruise?
Picnic In The Park
Sitting on the Champs de Mars under the Eiffel Tower, maybe wrapped in a warm blanket because it is February, sipping champagne and enjoying a feast on the grass is terribly romantic, and especially if someone delivers the picnic to you. Love Picnic Paris is a service that allows you to book a selection of picnics to be delivered to a park of your choice with the food and drink of your choice. From Foie Gras and smoked salmon or sweet treats and cake, just add champagne and enjoy.
The good thing about Paris is a) champagne is cheap and available, chilled in every supermarket, even the small corner shops, and b) a fresh sandwich from Paul’s comes with a macaron, included in a lunch deal, so you can have a champagne picnic whenever you want. Just pop into Monoprix or the inner-city IKEA for a couple of cheap glasses and a blanket, and off you go.
Take A Stroll In Versailles
For a super luxury touch, you can book a helicopter tour taking you from Paris, with a loop across the sights, all the way down to Versailles, across the Seine and the parks, dropping you off for sightseeing, before whisking you back to Paris. This is a real treat, and a very special way to not only see Paris from above, but also the beautiful surrounding countryside and the vast palace and gardens of Versailles. And you’ll miss all the traffic.
Another way to miss the traffic is to head to Versailles by RER C, the local suburban train. Start at the station Champ de Mars next to the Eiffel Tower and take the RER train to Versailles Château Rive Gauche. Keep a lookout for the special carriages which are decorated like the rooms in Versailles, with either books lining the walls or fancy ceilings, allowing you to start your train journey in royal style at a fraction of the price.
A Rooftop Drink
There is nothing better than sitting high above Paris with a view to take your breath away. For a truly luxurious experience, head to the Peninsula Paris Hotel and its rooftop bar next to the beautiful restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc. Views extend across to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, so close you can nearly touch them, with Paris sparkling below.
For another stunning view, and one of the places to enjoy the sunset in Paris without breaking the bank, is the rooftop of the department store Galleries Lafayette. It’s especially perfect for Valentine’s because the store and the rooftop close at 8 p.m., meaning that in summer you miss sunset hour, but not in February!
Have A Photoshoot
For lasting mementos of your romantic Valentine’s break in Paris, why not feel like a celebrity for a few hours, and have a photographer follow you around in the morning, or at night, taking pictures of you in all the charming places, without you having to ask a stranger? Hire your own professional photographer, dress up, and smile for the camera.
Alternatively, you could either search out the best selfie spots in Paris, from Montmartre and la Tour Eiffel to Pont Neuf and the Tuileries Gardens, or you can do an Amelie and head for a photo booth. There are some in larger metro stations, but my personal favorite is in the Palais de Tokyo, where you can combine fun with some contemporary art and snacks with a view from the terrace.
Best Romantic Restaurants In Paris
Paris is full of romantic-looking restaurants, but not all serve you great food. Sometimes, it does not matter, because you will live off love, but it’s best to go somewhere where both the setting and the food is good.
It doesn’t get more romantic than sitting right inside of the Eiffel Tower, right? One of the most luxurious restaurants in Paris, the Jules Verne is THE spot for marriage proposals, with two taking place when I went there for an anniversary. Definitely romantic, definitely luxurious, and definitely memorable.
La Tour d’Argent is one of the most famous restaurants in Paris, with views of Notre Dame and food that you will talk about forever. And it’s in a perfect location for a romantic after-dinner stroll.
Just as memorable is the brasserie Chez Julien by the Seine steps away from the Hotel de Ville. A beautiful and historic setting, oh-so photogenic, and the food is fab. You must choose to either sit outside or inside.
One of my personal favorites, always full of locals and no tourists, is the tiny Buvette in South Pigalle. The food is superb, the prices low, and the atmosphere lovely.
Best Romantic Hotels In Paris
So many hotels, so few nights. In Paris, you don’t have to splash out to stay in a romantic hotel, there are so many tiny ones that ooze charm. But if you can splash out, then go for it. But also please be aware that when it comes to stays, “budget” in Paris is somewhat above “budget” elsewhere.
If you can afford the Plaza Athénée, don’t even hesitate to book it. With its façade of balconies dripping with red blossoms, red canvas shades, and, in winter, twinkling lights galore, this is luxurious romance personified. It has excellent service, restaurants, and is steps away from the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel Tower.
Maison Souquet is a former bordello, but don’t let that put you off. Carefully restored, decorated with bespoke fabric wallpaper in each room, sumptuous furnishings and the coziest bar and courtyard, this is a little gem that oozes romance.
Hotel des Marronniers, this is an extremely quaint and romantic hotel in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres with a little courtyard, some rooms with beams, others decorated brightly, yet others with exposed stone walls, all oozing charm. And it’s in a perfect location.
Hotel Regent’s Garden might not sound terribly French, but it is a cute small hotel in my neighborhood, steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, but in a residential quartier that allows you to experience the real Paris. Don’t miss the Môm Bar, which serves great champagne and nibbles on the terrace with great people-watching.
Paris in February can be chilly and a little damp, so pop into Angelina on Rue de Rivoli by the Tuileries Gardens for the most sumptuous hot chocolate you ever have experienced. It was Coco Chanel’s favorite and she often popped down from her apartment at the Ritz Paris, just around the corner. Book ahead though, as this is a popular spot.