Lily Heise doesn’t date; she stumbles clumsily into romantic mischief. Her latest book, Je T’aime Me Neither, chronicles her sometimes absurdly funny, often racy, always entertaining amorous adventures in Paris. In honor of the book’s release, we’re giving away a copy to one lucky reader today. To mark the occasion, Lily has compiled a list of her favorite romantic activities in Paris — although we’re sure you don’t need too much help finding romance in the City of Love. For your chance to win, see instructions at the bottom of the post. -Geneviève
While Paris makes for a wonderful romantic backdrop any time of year, there is something particularly special about the summer months. Perhaps it’s the long days or the short skirts, the champagne or the strawberries — whatever the reason, there is definitely increased romance energy during l’été.
… Something I’ve found out first-hand over the years. Strolling along the Seine into the setting sun is enough to pull heartstrings at any time of the year, but here are my favorite tips for the perfect summer je t’aiming.
Le Pique-nique – but where?
Picnicking might just be tied with pétanque as the official summer sport of les parisiens, though I think it would definitely win out for the romantics. While there are many excellent places to lay your blanket, the city’s various waterways provide fitting spots for varying degrees of heartbeats.
New amoureux will cherish the semi-privacy found on the pelouse of the Square Vert Galant, located at the western tip of Ile de la Cité, or they can escape the crowds piled on Pont des Arts by heading to the Solferino bridge. Long time lovers might prefer to lounge and people-watch under a shady corner of the Canal Saint Martin. Lonely hearts will enjoy the lively atmosphere of overflowing groups along the Canal de l’Ourcq or just upstream from Notre Dame on the Quai de la Tournelle.
Les Jardins Secrets – shhhh!
Paris is more famous for its large parks, such as the royal Tuileries, the shady Luxembourg or the natural Buttes de Chaumont, which are all absolutely wonderful for lovers. Nevertheless, the city’s many secret gardens offer les amoureux a discreet paradis à deux for a little romantic break in your day. You can stumble upon them in each arrondissement of the city; however, I’ve discovered that the Marais is a treasure trove of little cachettes tucked in between the district’s private mansions and narrow laneways.
The Jardin Anne Frank, just off the busy rue Beaubourg right behind the Centre Pompidou, is an excellent pit stop for artsy amants. Further into le quartier is the very well hidden Jardin Francs-Bourgeois-Rosiers, accessible through the courtyard of the Maison de l’Europe. Finally, the most secret “public” garden is at the eastern edge of the district: Le Square Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur-Pauline Rolland. With few visitors, it’s a virtually private oasis of romantic bliss, surrounded by colorful climbing roses and a regal private mansion in the background.
Luscious lunches on semi-private terraces
When not picnicking, Parisians still adore dining outdoors in summer. There are many lovely terraces all over the city, yet some are more adapted for a lovers’ lunch. One of the most romantic lunches I’ve ever had in Paris was at the historic Procope restaurant – its narrow balcony is lined with a row private tables for two, separated by bright romantic-red geraniums, creating an intimate and special atmosphere hard to find elsewhere. For a light lunch or tea, die-hard romantics or mere culture lovers can enjoy the peace of the garden of the Musee de la Vie Romantique, whereas hipster heartthrobs can settle in at one of the more secluded tables on the terrace of the nearby Hotel Amour.
Rêve Romantique day trips
When the city gets too hot even for the most chaud of lovers, it’s time to escape to the countryside. I would have to say that castle visits are probably the most romantic day trips from Paris – Vaux-le-Vicomte and Chantilly being two of the nicest smaller castles in the area (which actually also encompass all of the above suggestions as well!).
Adventurers or history buffs might prefer to hunt down 1,000 year-old castles in Normandy such as the imposing châteaux of Gisors, Falaise or Gaillard (to which I once had to escape from a serious romantic!). Those wanting to step into the shoes of the impressionists shouldn’t head to Giverny, but rather to where those artists fled to beat the heat: the Ile de la Grande Jatte, Ile des Impressionnistes or to the outdoor restaurant Guignettes along the Marne, near Joinville-le-Pont.
Do you have a favorite spot for romance in Paris? We’d love to hear it!
- Time Out shares their list over the top 50 things you can do during summer in Paris!
- How do you survive a Parisian summer? It’s not always that easy… David Lebovitz tells us more.
- And what do you actually wear during a summer in Paris? Read this article by USA Today to find out more.