Paris is the ultimate weekend break for couples, and the city of love certainly deserves its reputation. There’s a tangible charm that oozes through its streets, making it almost impossible not to get caught up in a romantic whirlwind.
Of course, if you’ve never visited Paris before, you’ll be looking to tick off all the must-dos. It would be a crying shame not to take in the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower, walk the Champs-Élysées and snap a selfie beneath the Arc de Triomphe. But if you don’t venture out from the usual tourist haunts, you might just miss what it is that makes this city so dreamy – the real Paris that’s hiding beneath the surface – and that would be an even bigger shame.
To make sure you mix up your sightseeing with plenty of off-the-beaten-track adventure, check out some of our favourite undiscovered spots that’ll ramp up the romance on your Parisian city break.
An afternoon in Saint Germain des Prés
The cosy quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Prés may be situated right at the heart of the city, but to the typical landmark-hopping tourist, it’s all too often missed. It lies on the south bank of the Seine, unassumingly nestled between cathedrals and palaces, and what’s hiding in this narrow network of streets is Paris at its finest.
Elegant, art-nouveau-styled bistros spill off street corners as the smell of freshly-baked bread fills the air. For a real treat, head to Les Deux Magots. Their outdoor terrace is the perfect place to while away an hour with a coffee and a pastry, all in the shadow of a beautiful church.
A stroll in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Paris is packed full of beautiful parks, so you’ve plenty to take your pick from. Most visitors to the city simply opt to lounge on any patch of grass they can find, such as the Champ de Mars, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. But travelling a little further afield will be well worth it if you take a trip to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
An hour’s walk northeast of the Seine, this landscaped garden is one of the city’s most magical. Grown in the hollowed-out remnants of an old quarry, the towering rock formation at its centre is its grandest feature. On top of this sits the Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature version of the Roman Temple of Vesta. Wonderfully whimsical, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic summer’s eve.
A boat ride at the Bois de Boulogne
Once the hunting grounds of the French royal family, this vast city park offers over 28 kilometres of footpaths to explore. There are grand lawns, beautifully arranged gardens and acres of forest; but its greatest feature has to be its boating lake. For just a few euro you’ll get your hands on a long wooden boat with plenty of room for two. To the sound of the gentle rippling of water, push out across the pond and between the trees, until you find a space all to yourselves to settle for a while. It doesn’t get much more romantic than this.
A candlelit dinner at L’Encrier
One of Paris’s best kept culinary secrets is family-run restaurant L’Encrier. Just a short walk from Place de la Bastille, this cosy hideout was founded over 20 years ago on an ethos of good, fresh, authentic cooking. Every detail is catered for, from the traditional décor through to the tantalising dishes. Grab a menu and choose between Pear with Roquefort and Two salmon saupiquet to start; or opt for the Poached eggs with snails if you’re looking to try something new. There’s a variety of steak and fish options for your main, while their Crème brulee is a must-have for desert. All served alongside a selection of local wines, of course.
A night at the Opéra-Comique
With its unusual mixture of sung and spoken lines, the Opéra-Comique is not your usual opera. This makes it a perfect starting point for newcomers looking to experience Paris’s musical institutions for the first time. In its third incarnation, the theatre that houses the company – Salle Favart – is a spectacle of its own. Recently refurbished, its beautiful baroque detailing spills off every wall, balcony and ceiling; and marble adorns almost every surface. Grab yourself a glass of wine and take to your seat – when the curtain comes up, you’re in for a treat. Whatever you’ve managed to catch on their busy schedule, you’re sure to see something like nothing you’ve seen before.
From beautiful parks to cosy cafes, this city’s flavour for romance is impossible to resist. Whisk away a loved one for a romantic weekend in Paris, with flights to Paris from Manchester Airport.