Meat Flowers Are Here to Give You The Best Valentine's Day
Palais Royal, 1st arr
Right in the heart of Paris is Palais Royal. Originally built in the 1630s as the private residence of Cardinal Richelieu, and has been the crash pad of countless members of French bourgeoisie. The gardens, with covered galeries, cafés and trees in straight lines opened to the public in 1784 and has been a favorite place for Parisians ever since, an oasis of peace in the middle of one of the busiest districts in the city. Have a takeaway coffee at super hip Café Kitsuné and enjoy it on a bench under the chestnut trees in the North end of the garden, or pop through one of the archways to visit Verjus for a top notch dinner in a romantic setting. Make sure to book a table though!
Sentier, 2nd arr
Frenchie has been around for a while but this seasoned veteran has no trouble keeping up with the younger, prettier bistronomy restaurants. Not that Frenchie isn’t pretty. The homey atmosphere is a perfect setting for the restaurant’s elegant, five course, set dinner menu, taking the edge off the pretentiousness of edible flowers, and the end product is the perfect balance of relaxed, pretty and impressive -- exactly what you would look for in a date spot. After dinner, go for a stroll along the charming rue Montorgueil around the corner.
Art gallery hopping
Haut Marais, 3rd arr
The top part of the Marais doesn’t just have hip wine bars and minimalist fashion boutiques, there are also heaps of art galleries, making it the perfect place to take your artsy date. Start off at Michel Rein, then make your way in order to Galerie Lahumiere, Addict Galerie, Topographie de l’Art and Galerie Thadaeus Ropac, and then wrap it up at the VNH Gallery. Afterwards, head to japanese bistro Soma for a light and interesting meal. If you are up for something more relaxed (or something to relax you) cult bar La Perle is just around the corner from the last gallery.
On a perch above Paris
Marais, 4th arr
From the rooftop bar of the BHV department store you have an amazing view overlooking the very heart of Paris with the Hotel de Ville and Notre-Dame de Paris extending over the Parisian slate rooftops. Le Perchoir Marais is the perfect place to bring that special someone for a drink or to share a bottle of wine while admiring the eyeful of picture perfect Paris.
Jardin des Plantes
Jardin des Plantes, 5th arr
If your date has any sense of fun and curiosity, this wonderland might just be the ultimate spot to spend a date exploring together. Romantically set in the beautiful park is a zoo, or, if you prefer non-living animals, the Museum of Natural History. Especially interesting it the Galeries d'Anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie, housing animal skeletons and kittens in formaldehyde, though perhaps not for the weak-hearted. There is a large herbal garden, a tropical greenhouse and a labyrinth - perfect for getting lost together. When you get tired, retreat to the nearby Mosque of Paris for traditional mint tea.
Saint-Germain-de-Prés, 6th arr
There are basically about three places worth going in the otherwise touristy, expensive and overcrowded 6th arrondissement, but in return they are really good, and you can fit them all into one great date. Start out at L’Avant Comptoir with a stand out, stand up lunch by the counter, sharing plates ordered from the menu in the ceiling and picking your glasses of wine from the huge selection behind the bar. Afterwards, nearby Jardin du Luxembourg is perfect for a stroll before dessert from famous patisserie Gerard Mulot.
Musée de l’Armée
Invalides, 7th arr
This vast museum chronicles the history of France through the wars in which the nation has participated. Don’t be put off by how mundane that might sound, because there is lots to see: beautiful (and sometimes comical) gear worn by soldiers and their horses, interactive renderings of historic battles and even a taxidermy of Napoleon’s trusted white stallion Vizir, bearing the brand of the emperor on his hind leg. When your feet get tired, the Café des Officiers around the corner is perfect for sharing a bottle of red wine and discussing colonialism. Mind you, if you are the more traditional type, the Musée Rodin and the Musée d’Orsay nearby are pretty romantic as well.
Miromesnil, 8th arr
Show your date a bit of your cultural side by taking him or her to the beautiful concert hall Salle Gaveau. There are always things going on, ranging from harp concerts to musicals and singer-songwriter acoustic concerts. Check their schedule to find out what is on the roster at the moment. Afterwards, the excellent and intimate wine bar of the suggestively named Le Boudoir for an interesting conversation over a glass of red, red wine.
Opéra, 9th arr
Take your date to Palais Garnier for a night at the ballet. The stunning setting, the beautiful music and emotional dancing make might make for a stereotypically simple date idea but the classics never go out of style, do they?
La Cinématheque Française
Bercy, 12th arr
For the film buff, this is the perfect place to take a date equally interested in film. Housing interesting exhibitions and retrospectives, it will give you lots to talk about. Buying a film poster in the museum shop will make a nice memory when you tell your grandchildren about how you met.
Butte aux Cailles, 13th arr
The Butte aux Cailles is a charming, village-like area just off the busy hub of Place d’Italie, full of lively bars and bobos. Le Mélécasse, on the edge of the quartier, provides a nice and calm corner for a romantic dinner. The food is simple but delicious. Opt for the tartare de boeuf aller-retour (that is a steak tartar gently singed on both sides) and share a bottle of red -- your server will have a suggestion if you ask. Also, you have the option of a nightcap at one of the roucous bars further down the street -- try La folie en tête for the right cool, laid-back vibe.
Les Grands Voisins
Denfert-Rochereau, 14th arr
This old hospital, right in the heart of the old bohemia of Paris, has been transformed into a modern hippie enclave, with artists ateliers, organisations and creative enterprises having their headquarters inside the ancient walls. Explore the domain together, and have a coffee at the commune café In summer, the courtyard is filled with loungers to recline in while enjoying something from the canteen. The creative surroundings are bound to inspire some interesting conversation, and if not, there is bounds to look at in silence.
Convention, 15th arr
Just a stone’s throw from the excellent Gaumont Pathé Cinema by Convention (where you should head after dinner for a charmingly classic date), is this charming little restaurant, decorated with mirrored ceilings and art nouveau lamps that might be fancy if they didn’t look like they had been there forever. Still, there is a romantic air in the cosy eatery, and tables are hard to come by, which is easy to understand once you sit down and get a waft from the kitchen. Rustic platters of cured meats, duck lasagna and lamb chops glazed in honey feature on the short but lovingly prepared menu. Insiders tip: ask for the Corsican wine.
Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne, 16th arr
For an active date, this large park, one of the two green lungs of Paris, offers a multitude of activities to enjoy together. Go for a hike or a run together, or rent bikes and zoom around the vast area, stopping here and there for the perfect Instagram shot. In summer, you can rent boats by the artificial Lac Inférieur and reenact your favorite Pride and Prejudice moment (preferably the part before Mr. Darcy falls in the water) together. If you get bored just enjoying nature, there is the Fondation Louis Vuitton to tickle your senses with some interesting art, and the Jardin d’Acclimatation, an amusement park with rides and animals - all fun for both kids and adults, but there are also restaurants catering to your adult need of a stiff one when you get tired of overexcited kids.
Batignolles, 17th arr
This very sleek restaurant, named after the rather indecently funny George Brassens song, is the brainchild of Septime alumni Marc Cordonnier and Louis Langevin. At the spearhead of Parisian bistronomy, and with the haute cuisine of their mothership fresh in memory, they serve up intelligent but effortless and breezy dishes in an equally effortless yet polished surrounding. The prices are modest - thus lines are long, so book yourself a table beforehand or prepare to be waiting for a while.
Clignancourt, 18th arr
In a hidden corner on the less touristy backside of Montmartre is a pretty, blue storefront, with a beautiful but tiny restaurant behind. Their specialty is multi course dinners on shared plates -- perfect for romantic dinners, and also checking if you can agree on what to order. Beware that the service can be a bit absent-minded and you can never be sure in which order your orders will arrive (except dessert, that will come last) but you’re not in a rush anyway, right? After dinner, take a walk along the beautiful, quiet, residential rue Caulaincourt with its pretty townhouses and choose your future home together.
Buttes Chaumont, 19th arr
This unassuming bar and restaurant on a corner not far from Parc des Buttes Chaumont is a real hidden gem. Hugely popular with both locals and bobos travelling all the way from the (well, neighboring) 11th to dine, they might make you wait for a little while before seating you - but you can order a glass of wine while you wait. The well-worn leather sofas and bearded faces behind the bar give the place a homely and informal feel. Denim shirt and Stan Smiths are optional.The snails are (obviously) something of a specialty. As your main, order the huge chunk of beef, served for two: Romantic, and it will take a while to finish so you have all the time in the world to get to know each other better.
A tour of hidden Paris
The 20th arrondissement with it’s hidden corners is worth a little tour. Start by metro Bagnolet, heading up the stairs to rue Irénée Blanc. This little enclave, a remain from the area’s history, is called la campagne á Paris, a remain of the area’s history of close-lying villages (before Haussmann annexed the district, and gave it a number in the escargot that is the departemental topography of Paris). Next, continue past Gambetta and enter Cimitière du Père Lachaise. A cemetery might seem like a strange place for a date but this place in all it’s beauty and tranquility is actually super romantic. Leave through the South gate, on rue de la Réunion. After you pass the big market square, take a right on rue des Vignoles and follow the street until you reach Les Mondes Bohémes. Have a seat on one of the colorful chairs and order the house’s Pink Mojito, you’ve deserved it.
1. Verjus47 rue Montpensier, Paris
2. Frenchie5 rue du Nil, Paris
3. SŌMA13 Rue Saintonge, Paris
4. La Perle78 Rue Vieille du Temple, Paris
5. Le Perchoir14 Rue Crespin du Gast, Paris
6. Mosquée de Paris2 bis place du Puits de l’Ermite, Paris
7. L'Avant Comptoir3 carrefour de l'Odéon, Paris
8. Gérard Mulot76 Rue de Seine, Paris
9. Café des Officiers3 place de l'École Militaire, Paris
10. Le Boudoir - Restaurant & Bar à Vins25 rue du Colisée, Paris
11. Le Mêlécasse12 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, Paris
12. La Folie en Tête33 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, Paris
13. Restaurant L'accent Corse123 rue de la convention, Paris
14. Gare au Gorille68 rue des Dames, Paris
15. Uptown18 rue Francoeur, Paris
16. L’Escargot Montorgueil38 Rue Montorgueil, Paris
17. Les Mondes Bohèmes31 rue des Vignoles, Paris
Palais-Royal's Verjus serves a daily tasting menu plus an optional cheese course and wine pairing (but who are we kidding, you should get them). Below the main dining room is a wine bar that --- bless its heart -- offers an à la carte menu for those wishing to indulge in Verjus’s famed fare without draining the wallet (as much). Pair small plates like zucchini beignets, veal tartare, and pork and duck terrine with wines produced by independent French vignerons, and enjoy your dishes in the bar’s cozy, den-like atmosphere.
The most upscale of Paris’s Frenchie restaurant trio is Frenchie Restaurant, helmed by the illustrious Chef Grégory Marchand. Since its opening in 2009, Frenchie has been abuzz in the Paris food scene, meaning availability is minimal and wait times are long. But if you pay a visit at lunchtime on a Thursday or Friday, you’ll likely be able to indulge in Frenchie’s prix-fixe-only menu sans hassle. The boldly flavored dishes change seasonally, but you can expect options like calamari gazpacho with squash blossoms and braised lamb with roasted eggplant and spinach.
Soma artfully bridges Japanese and French bistro cuisine in a too-cool-for-you atmosphere, complete with exposed stone walls, a walnut bar, and an open kitchen in the center of the dining room. The menu consists of small plates whose European and Asian flavors dazzle: bonito tataki, lamb chops in a miso and yuzu sauce, and spinach in a sesame cream. For dessert, opt for the green tea tiramisu that is at once creamy and fluffy, served on a thin blue porcelain plate.
Located in the historic Le Marais district, La Perle doubles as a low-profile daytime café, and a crowded '70's-inspired cocktail bar. The spot is notorious for its crowd of young, impeccably-dressed Parisians, meandering in gaggles towards the cafè-bar as evening sets in. For prime nighttime hours, the staff rearranges the dining room to provide ample standing room, and the collection of round, marble tables and classic whicker chairs are quickly occupied by diners and drinkers alike. The sidewalk tables, framed by tasteful strings of white lights, are prime space for people-watching (or rather, for passersby to admire La Perle's glamorous crowd), and table service is still available for those who choose to sit outside. At this all-day Parisian favorite, effortlessly cool, A.P.C.-clad twenty-somethings sip espresso drinks by daylight, returning at night for carafes of the house rosè.
Among the clever speakeasy-inspired venues infiltrating the Paris bar scene, Le Perchoir is accessible only through an unmarked doorway. While the spot is generally recognizable by the ever-present, well-to-do crowd standing somewhat aimlessly by the entrance, the charming lack of advertising maintains its appeal. Once the hidden bouncer grants you entrance, you step directly into an elevator that opens just seconds later to reveal arrangements of potted-greenery, plush seating, and most importantly, panoramic views of the city below (yes, that includes the Eiffel Tower). The raved-over rooftop locale, stationed atop Le BHV department store, serves a smattering of small plates -- think ham and cornichons -- but the food is merely an accompaniment to the craft cocktails and the seemingly infinite supply of chilled rosè.
The Grande Mosquée de Paris, across from the Jardin des Plantes and in the center of the 5th arrondissement’s Algerian-Muslim neighborhood, is a stunning, peaceful oasis in the middle of Paris. As you sit in the tiled courtyard, you'll be awestruck by the green-and-white tiled minaret. You can find the restaurant, spa, and Salon de Thé just inside the structure, where, after spending a couple of hours, you will be refreshed and rejuvenated. Trays and trays of hot peppermint tea are replenished by friendly staff who also serve desserts, like baklava and Turkish delight.
In true Paris fashion, this 6th arrondissement eatery is best known for its wine and charcuterie. The space is standing-room only (the food is worth standing for), and to order, patrons must squeeze themselves into an opening of counter space and shout to the bartenders, hoping to be heard over the lively French murmur. There are plates of bread, hot mustard and cornichons out on display for the taking, and the charcuterie plates, notoriously massive, are stacked with Iberian ham, fresh-cured sausage, and cuts of local cheese. The wine selection is marvelously large (as are the servings), and the narrow tables are sloshed with spilled jams and wine-stains, lending plenty of character to this hole-in-the-wall local favorite.
A sinful haven for sweet-tooths, this colorful dessert mecca is a favorite pastisserie among locals (which is saying something when it comes to Parisian pastries). The sweetshop/bakery prepares tasty sandwiches and cheese-topped toasts, but its acclaim truly comes from the veritable selection of fresh pastries and baked goods lining the numerous glass cases. The croissants (prepared with spoonfuls of real butter), the macarons (piled regally and dusted with sugar), and the eclairs (stuffed with rich house-cream) are worth indulging in a thousand times over (the French have a remarkable capability to remain thin), and those who tend towards savory treats can choose from one of the several fresh-baked bread options. If you are not in the business of indulging (I warn you, this is a mistake), the food items in Gèrard Mulot are worth viewing, alone.
Café des Officiers was designed for people-watching, and, while tourist-heavy, it will provide you with the quintessential French brasserie meal you traversed the Atlantic to consume (with a menu in English to match). Sample charcuterie, mixed salads (Caesar, Parisian, and Auvergnate), and steaks, and pair them with a cocktail, a glass of wine, a beer, or all three. Snag a seat on the open-air terrace to take full advantage of the café’s Tour Eiffel location.
Yes, the name of this wine bar is Le Boudoir, and yes, you’re already intrigued. In close proximity to the Champs-Elysées, Le Boudoir -- as is standard in France -- aims to give you pleasure through food, drink, and cigars. The menu offers a selection of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes, like poultry pie with foie gras, onion confit, and foliage emulsion, mussel-stuffed octopus with fresh herbs, and browned catfish with semi-salted butter, which can be enjoyed in three different dining rooms bedecked with warm modern art. Complement your meal with a bottle of French wine recommended by the sommelier and a smoke in the intimate cigar lounge that only seats eight.
Unlike many Parisian cafés, Le Mêlécasse Brasserie in the Buttes aux Cailles area of Paris’s 13th arrondissement was not made for people watching. In fact, as you’re sitting at a sidewalk table, you’ll hardly see a soul, save for a cyclist or two enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. But it’s the neighborhood’s quietude that draws so many for a meal at Le Mêlécasse, which serves French fare like onion soup, escargots, smoked salmon, and beef tartare. The restaurant is studded with cranberry and forest green two- and four-tops and lit by tasteful crystal chandeliers.
Perched on the Butte aux Cailles, La Folie en Tete is a welcome alternative to the sometimes-stuffy world of Parisian nightlife. The interior is undeniably divey, but it boasts charm with walls lined with comic strips, paintings, traffic lights, and instruments from around the world. The bar’s playlist dances between jazz, world music, and rock. Drinks like beer, Ti Punch Maison (with rum, house syrup, and lime), and classic cocktails are inexpensive and well prepared.
Corsican cuisine has found a worthy ambassador in Paris’s L’Accent Corse, near the Boucicaut metro. Helmed by Corsican native Marc-Ange Spinosi, the restaurant pays homage to the Belle Epoque with its worn mirrors and warm, incandescent lamps. With ingredients sourced from the island, dishes like lamb chops in Corsican “family honey,” cold cuts, and cheeses are undeniably authentic and take your taste buds on a Mediterranean journey.
Septime alumni Marc Cordonnier and Louis Langevin helm Gare au Gorille, an ultra sleek 17th bistro known for taking traditional French dishes and transforming them into perfectly snackable tapas, like classic raw beef with tapenade and matchstick fries, French vitello tonnato with whelks and vitelotte potatoes, or tender mackerel marinated with salt, tomatoes, and raspberries. The interior is austere and immaculate; rustic oak tables are in stark contrast to the clean white walls, and bright white lights hang from industrial-chic cables.
Uptown’s selection of French tapas is ideal for a date, with a focus on multi-course dinners on shared plates. Visit for weekend brunch, which combines all of your favorite French petit dejeuner foods like pain au chocolat, fresh-baked baguette, poached eggs, beef medallions, pressed orange juice, and strawberry mousse on a fixed menu. Reservations are highly recommended, as Uptown is no secret among the Montmartre crowd.
Officially declared a French heritage site, this classic spot has been serving snails for over 200 years. The Second Empire establishment offers escargot mainly of the Burgundy region, served on 12-snail plates in an assortment of three different flavors. In addition to the classic escargot arrangements, the menu offers a number of other French food staples (try the frog legs) and an impressive selection of wines. With sand-blasted windows, a wood-paneled ceiling, and tasteful red decor, the place appears every bit the pricey, elegant eatery is it. And while the prices are certainly not low, neither is the quality of the food (according to two full centuries of dedicated customers).
If you’re looking for a Parisian lunch or dinner spot sans tourists, escape to the 20th arrondissement and have a seat at Les Mondes Bohèmes, a sidewalk café that welcomes diners for lunch, dinner, and drinks. Dishes are simple and light: a roasted Camembert (paired with frites and a house salad) joins burgers and club sandwiches on the menu, making the café an excellent destination both for a family meal and a date.