Paris. The city of romance. With picturesque cafes on almost every corner, countless bridges crossing the Seine begging for twilight strolls and stolen glances, architecture that dazzles for days, and the omnipresent accordion harking back to sweeter, slower days, how could you not fall in love? In a day no less. And we’re not talking about the dashing young men in lively conversation over espressos. You’re falling in love with no one other than yourself. Here is our guide to romancing yourself in the city of Light.
9am. To the heart by way of the stomach. Begin your day with a croissant or pain au chocolat still warm from the oven from a local boulangerie. For the best pastries Paris has to offer, head to Le Grenier a Pain, strategically scattered throughout the city. I recommend the Montmartre location, which won the award for best baguette in 2010!
11am. Views from the top. Montmartre is the highest of Paris’ hills and the best vantage point from which to explore the landscape. Also, climbing up the steps to Sacré-Cœur will help burn off a few of those croissant calories! Once you’ve visually mapped out the areas of Paris you will be exploring, take a moment of respite behind the doors of the famous Basilica before the crowds begin their ascent.
1pm. The art of déjeuner. Eating is certainly an art in Paris, and one that the French take very seriously. Lunch is perhaps the most delightful meal of all, if you have the time to enjoy it the Parisian way: two hours long, accompanied by a glass of wine, and ending with a café gourmand. Paris offers a number of prix-fixe menus at some of its best restaurants, so you can indulge without qualms.
3pm. Island hopping. One of the most romantic neighborhoods in Paris is neither on the rive gauche nor the rive droite; it’s right in the middle. The Île de la Cité and, my personal favorite, the Île Saint-Louis, are the ideal spots to romanticize about life in Paris, read a good book (maybe even write one of your own), or simply stare into the ever-changing kaleidoscope that is the sky of Paris. Be sure to sample the famous and historic ice-cream Berthillon at Le Flore en l’Ile, if you don’t make it to their flagship on the rue Saint Louis en l’Ile.
5pm. Sugar high. Perhaps the greatest love affair in Paris is with its sweet side. There exists such a vast selection of chocolatiers and macaron shops that you could easily spend a hedonistic afternoon in any of Paris’ 20 arrondissements. Good idea to consult the aficionados Amy Thomas and David Lebovitz for some of the best chocolatiers. As for macarons, you must experience both Laduree and Pierre Hermé and decide for yourself which reigns superior. If you prefer to make your own, La Cuisine Paris offers macaron classes!
7pm. Nocturnal art fix. You cannot properly experience Paris without sampling just a little bit of its history through the vast collections of art exhibited in the city’s 50+ museums. Where to begin? At the Louvre, of course! The architecture alone is breathtaking, but a trip inside the ancient residence of kings and emperors of France is well worthwhile. Beneath an ethereal sunset, become acquainted with historic France.
Septime, Lost in Cheeseland
9pm. Gourmet grand finale. Time to sit over a glass of wine and reflect on the many sights and tastes experienced over the past 12 hours. Where else but at a classic French bistro? A few ideas from the foodies: Septime in the 11th, Jadis in the 15th or, my personal favorite, Petrelle in the 9th. If the sights, sounds and sweets have not yet seduced you, certainly the savory will.
Petrelle, Erica Berman
Day one. The love affair has only just begun.
- David Lebovitz visits Le Grenier à Pain
- Paris in Four Months shares her dream day in Paris here
- For more in-the-know Paris tips, check out our favorite sites Do It in Paris and My Little Paris