Parisians seem to have perfected the art of enjoying summer. The long days keep them basking in the sunshine in the city’s many bucolic gardens or on one of its ever-growing number of hip terraces and rooftop bars, not to mention the abundance of festivals which quickly fill up agendas. If you’re looking to enjoy the season with your amoureux in alternative ways and away from the crowds, try out one of these three romantic itineraries.
A Verdant Stroll in the 13ème
Hidden away in a quiet corner of the 13th you’ll find one of the quaintest pockets of Paris: La Cité Florale. As its name implies, this is a cluster of winding villa streets, each bearing the name of a different flower. You can wander hand-in-hand along rue des Orchidées, Iris, and Glycines, admiring the cute houses overflowing with flowers. The Cité Florale is a short walk from the lovely, lesser-visited Parc Montsouris. A component of Haussmann’s 19th century grand scheme of modern Paris, it was designed along with the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, le Bois de Boulogne, and le Bois de Vincennes as the green lungs of the city. It has a lake, waterfall, and lots of lawn space to lounge with your lover. If you’re up for more ambling, head across the street to the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, a vast student residency complex. You can admire the diverse architecture of 40 different buildings; try to find the Pavillon Suisse by famous modernist architect Le Corbusier and the castle-like Collège d’Espagne. There’s also a large lawn for lazing around after your stroll.
Culture, Cuisine, and the Lady of Iron
The 16th district might be a little out of the way, but it has some nice surprises worth the trek. Start with some culture at the adorable Maison de Balzac. The only remaining Parisian home of this legendary early 19th-century French writer, it was in this little house that he wrote his epic The Human Comedy, a collection of novels, essays, and stories depicting French society after the fall of Napoléon. The small museum displays paintings, engravings, and personal artifacts of the writer as well as original manuscripts and copies of his works. Afterwards, embark on a culinary adventure through the neighborhood’s elegant streets, full of historic art nouveau buildings, to track down some of the wonderful gastronomic shops in the area, compiled in this previous HiP article. Once stocked, head down to the nearby Île aux Cygnes, the long uninhabited island on the Seine, where you can set up your picnic and admire, far from the hordes, la Grande Dame de Paris: the Eiffel Tower. Don’t leave without saying bonjour to the Statue of Liberty, another important “lady.” One of Paris’ three models sits stoically at the western tip of the island.
Fun and Funfairs in the East End
This summer we’re in for a treat. One of the coolest hidden sites of the city is opening its doors regularly: le Musée de la Fete Forain. The quirky private museum, featured in one of the party scenes of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, houses an excellent collection of vintage funfair rides and objects. It’s normally only open a few times a year, but during this test series of English tours, you can learn about this fascinating collection and even take a ride on one of its colorful carousels and merry-go-rounds (reservations required, more info here).
After you’ve had your thrills, make your way over to the Cour Saint Emilion, the former wine warehouses of Paris, to have a fitting chilled glass of rosé and take in the free exhibition Histoires de Portraits, a collection of portraits by three Magnum Photos photographers: Philippe Halsman, Elliott Erwitt, and Bruce Gilden (on through August 30). You can end your outing relaxing in the nearby Parc de Bercy or cross over the Seine to find a more lively mood at one of the cool bars with great terraces along the quais of the 13th arrondissement, such as the Dame de Canton or Nuba.
Maison de Balzac – 47 rue Raynouard, 75016. Tel: +33 (0)1 55 74 41 80.
Musée des Arts Forains – 53 avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 40 16 22.
Histoires de Portraits at Bercy Village – 28 rue François Truffaut, 75012. No telephone.
- If you love discovering things in Paris that are off the beaten path, check out our top five lesser-known art museums.
- Looking for date ideas in one of the more hip arrondissements? Here are three romantic itineraries for you for the Marais, the 11th arrondissement, and Montmartre.
- For even more romantic Paris ideas, this article by Messy Nessy Chic is full of thoughts for every personality and budget.