Finding your cafe terrace
I will start with an obvious spot: the sidewalk cafe terrace. There are thousands of such in Paris, and lovebirds are a common sight there.
The cafe terrace is an enjoyable spot in more than one way. First, they offer a nice resting spot. Second, they make an ideal observatory. The streets become an aquarium, passer-bys are the fish, and you two become the observers. Third, sit down at a terrace where other couples are smooching, and you are part of a community setting a good example to the rest of the world. For all we need is love!
But where to turn to? Which cafe to choose? The choice is entirely yours, but I will dare a few recommendations.
- A favorite spot of mine is located in one of the wings of the Louvre museum. Les Chevaux de Marly (Horses in Marly) has I.M. Pei's Pyramid on its left, and is built inside the wing which borders Rivoli Street (if you look towards Place de la Concorde, this is the right wing of the museum). The place offers a selection of snacks, and a nice warm chocolate. Its terrace is relatively protected from the wind and rain, which makes it a good spot in wintertime.
- Now if you are a die-hard fan of the Latin Quarter, and the St Germain des Pres area, you will certainly want to sit at the terrace of Les Deux Magots (A Pair of Old Bachelors). French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and his wife, writer Simone de Beauvoir, used to hole up there in the 50s. Rather large and well protected by a long awning, the terrace is a great spot to observe the foot traffic moving along the busy Boulevard St Germain. The atmosphere inside the cafe has kept some of its mid-20th century flavor. A tad on the expensive side, but history and a great view have a price, haven't they?
- In my list of fave areas, Place de la Contrescarpe ranks high. It is located in the 5th district, atop the quaint Rue Mouffetard. There are a couple of sidewalk terraces to sit at there, and the view is great.
- I would also recommend Place des Abbesses, on the Montmartre Hill. Though the local cafe terraces are usually packed, I just dig the place for its early-fall, after-school feel.
- Lastly, I would not miss the cafe Flore en L'Isle which sits at the end of the Pont St Louis (St Louis Bridge), at the western tip of the Saint Louis Island. They serve Berthillon ice creams and sorbets, and the view is great.
Cool streets to roam
The best way to visit Paris is on foot and subway. Don't take cabs, traffic is awful. Use the subway to move from one spot to a distant other. Otherwise, just walk. And while walking, never forget to raise your eyes. Interesting details will pop at you which are rarely noticed by those who only look at eye level.
For romancing the love of your life, certain places have these very special qualities which will set them apart in your memories of togetherness. I will tell you about three for now.
Walk to the Pont Neuf bridge, go down the flight of stairs opening behind Henri's statue, and you will wind up on the wharf. There, lined with century-old trees, the park offers a magnificent view of the river Seine and the Louvre Museum. I recommend discovering the spot together during daytime. It is also the port of call of a boat tour operator. Seize this opportunity to boat upstream and downstream. Don't forget to bring an extra sweater, the temperature at water level is chillier.
More romantic recommendationsI love a good romance, and I would love to contribute to yours in my own way. So I'll write more about these special Parisian spots in further installments to this series. Meanwhile, you will find more resources on the website Paris-Eiffel-Tower-News (see 'About the Author' section in this page below). 'Til then, I wish your couple to grow even stronger.
About the author: Phil Chavanne spent 30 years in Paris. Share in his personal knowledge in his free Paris city guide - an insider view of Paris and its most enjoyable spots.