Parisian Living

Where to go on a First Date in Paris

by Neil Kreeger
Left, inside Castor Club, a bar with warm golden lighting that's perfect for a first date. Right, two cocktails at a bar in Paris against a chequered floor.
Castor Club, Irma Fashion Blog

I’m not sure I’m qualified to give instruction on matters of the heart as my love life resembles something that was passed through a meat grinder. That said, my relationships do usually get off to a roaring start thanks to my ability to find fun, original ideas for dates that demonstrate my inventiveness and penchant for tailor-making romantic outings. To be honest, the most difficult thing nowadays is just getting that first date, so overwhelming the art of seduction has become in this digital age. I can’t help you on that front, but once you do score a rendez-vous, here are some ideas on how to secure a second one. Bon courage, my fellow singletons!

On left: Two friends hold bright cocktails from the bar Le Très Particulier in Montmartre, one a bright red and the other a soft grapefruit pink, garnished with a slice of blood orange. On right: The bar at Chez Bouboule in Paris' Pigalle neighborhood welcomes patrons to hop in for a drink and a game of pétanque, a classic summer pastime.
Irma Fashion Blog, Chez Bouboule

Row, row, row your boat

Now, I admit, this is a risky one. But is also has the potential to be a wholly romantic experience. Paris is blessed with numerous bodies of water from rivers to lakes to canals, and in most cases it’s possible to hire a boat with varying degrees of manpower required. If you’re feeling confident in your physical prowess, then why not take out a rowing boat on one of the capital’s lakes? The Bois de Boulogne, to the west of Paris, was conceived by Napoleon III and has a sizeable lake from which you can spot a pagoda, a waterfall and, of course, white swans.

On left: Two friends enjoy a sunny afternoon at Lac Dausmenil in the Bois de Vincennes right outside of Paris, where rowboats are for rent. On right: A couple paddles a rowboat on the lake in the Bois de Boulogne, in west Paris, amidst tall trees on a sunny day.
Val de Marne Tourisme, Lucky Mornings

Over on the other side of the city is the Bois de Vincennes, whose lake, Lac Daumesnil, is hugely popular and features a rotunda and a couple of beautiful islands. If you’re feeling lazy but still want to impress by means of your marine skills, then perhaps the electric boats available for hire on the Canal de l’Ourcq would be more suitable. The two of you can observe those on the banks playing pétanque, take in the interesting architecture along the route, and enjoy the street art on either side. 

On left: A ping-pong player readies her serve in the dim light of Gossima Ping Pong Bar. On right: Gossima Ping Pong Bar, in Paris' 11th arrondissement, serves up shareable bar food and drinks that you can enjoy in between sets.
Gossima Ping Pong Bar

Have you got the balls?

OK, so you want something more original than going to a bar for a drink. But what if that bar had ball games? The element of competition can add an exciting twist to the outing and gives you the opportunity to see sides of your date that you may not have witnessed otherwise. Yes, it is also the chance for you to get your ass whooped and suffer humiliation, but that’s charming, right? At Chez Bouboule, you can both enjoy a drink while playing the national summer pastime, pétanque, any time of the year.

Their location south of Pigalle would be my pick, not only because they also have a foosball table, but also because if the date goes well you’ve got some of Paris’ best cocktail bars next door to move things to the next level. If throwing heavy metal balls doesn’t sound like your bag, then how about a game of table tennis? Gossima Ping Pong Bar in the 11th arrondissement of the capital has eight tables and serves good value bar food and drinks. Game, set, and match

On left: Patrons of the Gossima Ping Pong Bar, in Paris' 11th arrondissement, descend on a sumptuous spread of cheese, charcuterie, bruschetta, and other shareable plates. On right: Two friends share a laugh at the trivia night hosted by The Highlander Scottish Bar in Paris' 6th arrondissement.
Gossima Ping Pong Bar, The Highlander Scottish Bar

Riddle me this

If you like the idea of including an element of competition into your first date, but are someone whose brain trumps their brawn, then how about a trivia night? Unfortunately (in my opinion), this involves going to a British pub, but it could be just the atmosphere you’re looking for on your first tryst. A quiz would mean you have to work together and the opportunity to get to know your date’s likes, strengths, and personality.

On left: A bartender serves up electric-colored drinks at Gossima Ping Pong Bar in Paris' 11th arrondissement. On right: Gossima Ping Pong Bar serves up cheese and charcuterie boards as the perfect snack between games.
Gossima Ping Pong Bar

And if you happen to win, then you may get the ultimate prize! The Highlander Scottish bar has a couple of quiz nights with a music-themed one on Sundays and a general knowledge-based evening on Mondays. It’s not the most classy joint in town, but it gives you the opportunity to up your game if things go well and head to a quieter, more elegant bar for a night cap, such as the nearby Castor Club or Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. An alternative quiz venue is the Frog and Princess down the road.

On left: A peachy floral cocktail sits in a sparkling glass at Le Très Particulier, the bar of Hôtel Particulier in Montmartre. On right: A bartender shakes up cocktails under the orange glow of the lights at the Terrass Hotel, a rooftop bar in Paris' 18th arrondissement.
Le Très Particulier, Terrass Hotel

Twinkle twinkle

For those of you confident enough to feel you can rely on your charm alone to woo your new love interest, then you’ll need some recommendations for bars where you can work your magic. Honestly there are literally hundreds of places you could go that would impress, so I’ll just go with a couple of tried-and-tested (wink wink) spots in my neighborhood. The first of these is Le Très Particulier at the Hôtel Particulier. The house, originally built for the Hermès family, stands at the end of a passage off of an exclusive Montmartre avenue. Buzz to get in and then head downstairs to the bar, which has an interior, boudoir-style space or a luxuriant patio. One of the coziest joints in Paris, it also boasts, upstairs, the second largest outdoor terrace in the city. (Tip: if you feel there’s a chance of a smooch, take your date outside on the hour after dark and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle in full view behind the big rock right outside the hotel’s entrance). Another great hotel in the area for a drink is the Terrass Hotel, which has a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the city

On left: The renowned olive tree at La Mangerie in Paris' Marais neighborhood invites diners to gather around for tapas. On right: A fresh green salad topped with pine nuts sits on the earthy, wooden farm table at La Mangerie in Paris' Marais neighborhood.
La Mangerie

Sharing is caring!

They say that going for dinner on a first date is an extremely perilous exercise as if it doesn’t go well, you’re stuck there until dessert. It’s true that there are multiple potential stumbling blocks with a restaurant-based rendez-vous, however, it can always make for a very intimate and sensual experience should you choose the right place. My advice would be to go for an eatery that specializes in sharing plates so that the pleasure of the meal is shared. One of my go-to joints is La Mangerie du Marais, which always has a lively atmosphere (thanks to owner Serge), original deco (an olive tree right in the middle of the dining room!) and, most importantly, delicious tapas dishes.

On left: A delicate biscuit sits in a pool of golden fruit coulis, dotted with cream and fresh herbs. On right: A fresh cookie is adorned with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and encircled by a crown of fresh, vibrant raspberries, blueberries, and currents.
La Mangerie

Another one of my newer default choices is Neni at the 25 Hours hotel opposite the Gare du Nord. With its walls chock-a-block with provocative framed art, this Israeli eatery is a perfect venue for a first date as it also has an adjoining bar (and rooms if things go really well!). But perhaps the ultimate sensual eating experience is the gursha used in Ethiopia, where diners feed each other. I did this for the first time in New York and it was a revelation. There’s nothing more arousing than licking your date’s fingers clean as they feed you injera (Ethiopian bread). My favorite Ethiopian in Paris is Le Négus, mainly for the jovial patron

Marissa Wu

Addresses

Chez Bouboule – 0 Avenue Trudaine 75009 Paris

Gossima Ping Pong Bar – 4 rue Victor Gelez 75011 Parisian

The Highlander – 8 rue de Nevers 75006 Paris

The Frog and Princess – 9 rue Princesse 75006 Paris

Le Très Particulier – 23 Avenue Junot 75018 Paris

Terrass Hotel – 12-14 rue Joseph de Maistre 75018 Paris

La Mangerie du Marais – 7 rue de Jarente 75004 Paris

Neni – 12 boulevard Denain 75010 Paris

Le Négus – 52 rue de Montreuil 75001 Paris

On left: A marbled table is filled with dishes from Neni, an Israeli eatery located in Gare du Nord. On right: Dishes from Neni, an Israeli restaurant in Paris' Gare du Nord, feature beet hummus and crispy falafel.
Neni

Written by Neil Kreeger for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a  fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.

Written By

Neil Kreeger

Originally from London but living and working in Paris for more than 10 years, Neil started out as a travel journalist mainly reviewing hotels all over the world for an online magazine based in Paris. While he still writes for various publications including Luxos Magazine and Pullman Hotels' Junction Magazine, he has more recently turned his attention to the food and beverage industry and has worked at several well-known restaurants in Paris. View Neil Kreeger's Website

2 comments on “Where to go on a First Date in Paris

Chez Bouboule was being gutted in November. Closed? Renovated?

Hmmm we will check it out, thanks for the tip. Let us know if you find anything on your end!

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