Insider: A romantic’s guide to Paris
On a romantic winter weekend in Paris it can be tempting to stick to what you know; to be drawn towards the twinkly fizz of the Eiffel Tower at night, to feel the magnetic pull of the Hotel Costes (hotelcostes.com), to find every walk at dusk brings you back to the grey, swirling waters of the Seine, or the Place de la Concorde’s obelisk.
Here, where even the most unprepossessing street corner round the back of the Moulin Rouge seems somehow impossibly romantic and utterly Parisian, the classics are classic for a reason. The Ritz (ritzparis.com) glows like a beacon of high taste, while the Place Vendome’s cobbles remain as slick and shiny as old coins. La Fontaine de Mars (fontainedemars.com) is still as traditional as its bone-warming, soul-soothing cassoulet and a café noir at a pavement table at Les Deux Magots (lesdeuxmagots.fr)on Boulevard Saint-Germain is as typically French as puffing away on a Gitanes.
Here, where even the most unprepossessing street corner seems somehow impossibly romantic and utterly Parisian, the classics are classic for a reason.
But while Le Marais’s gallery-filled, hipster-hub charms cling on, there is stiff competition from artsy Belleville, which has its toes in the 10th, 11th, 19th and 20th arrondisements. Creative folk and boundary-pushing artists have long flocked north-east to this once-working-class, coolly down-at-heel hood. The big gun museums though still hold the most sway. The Louvre currently comes up trumps with its Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of his death. And the great absinthe-addled genius of Toulouse-Lautrec is being commemorated at the Grand Palais. Clever locals visit these in the early evenings to beat the daytime crowds.
The newish Hoxton hotel (thehoxton.com) has lured a smart crowd to the old-school 2ème, the Bourse. After a tête-à-tête feast at Frenchie (frenchie-restaurant.com), a five-minute stroll away, hole up here for flirty nightcaps at Jacques Bar, then climb into bed in one of the small but gorgeous rooms.
Beelines should also be made for seafood suppers at Clamato (clamato-charonne.fr) in Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and Invalides’ Restaurant David Toutain (davidtoutain.com), with its two-Michelin-starred vegetarian leaning, is equally enticing.
This is the magic of the capital in winter, a city where old is, arguably, the new new. And where everything puts you in the mood for love.
Plus, discover La Vallée Village, a member of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, just 40 minutes from Paris.