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magazine on travel

There is no escaping the

There is no escaping the romance of Paris. In the early 19th century Paris revelled in the artistic and literary liberation of Romanticism, yet this graceful city has always inspired love. It permeates through the city where loved-up couples laze in its manicured gardens, get intimate in candlelit wine bars and stroll along the Seine arm-in-arm at sunset. 1. Take in the view from the Eiffel Tower It’s no surprise why the Eiffel Tower witnesses so many marriage proposals: scaling the three floors of the 324m Parisian icon to the sweeping panoramic views of the city is utterly romantic – and even more irresistible with a glass of pink Champagne in hand at the top-floor Champagne Bar. Rev up the romance stakes with an ascent after-dark when the tower sparkles every hour on the hour with 20,000 gold lights 2. Say ‘Je t’aime’ in Montmartre Montmartre and its signature Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart Basilica) is a place of pilgrimage for romantics as well as the religious. Steep staircases scale the hillside to the basilica’s lofty dove-white domes, from where vistas of the city – from the front steps or from inside its main dome – are second to none. Delve into the fabled heart of this artist neighbourhood at the Musée de Montmartre, set in the 17th-century manor where Impressionist painter Renoir and later Realist painter Suzanne Valadon had studios. The intimate garden here – with a rope swing hung from a tree evocative of Renoir’s The Swing (1876) – is particularly romantic 18

Weave your way to place des Abbesses and discover how to say ‘Je t’aime’ in 250 languages on the Le Mur des Je t’aime. Dedicated to love, the I Love You Wall, painted on enamelled lava tiles, is the creation of artists Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito. 3. Admire the French Romantics From place des Abbesses walk south to the Musée de la Vie Romantique, incongruous yet still at home in red-light Pigalle. The romantic mansion with green shutters and tangled garden sits in a cobbled courtyard at the end of a tree-shaded alley. Writer George Sand and painter Ary Scheffer lived here, and objects exhibited create a wonderful flashback to Romantic-era Paris when Chopin, Delacroix et al attended salons in the house. Admire works by Romantic painter Delacroix in the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay (in either museum hook up with THATLou for a love-themed treasure hunt). Or head to Delacroix’s studio-home Musée National Eugène Delacroix to peek at more intimate works like An Unmade Bed (1828). In the genre of sculpture Rodin was the man: be inspired by his The Kiss (1889) and other curvaceous works at the Musée Rodin. Writer Victor Hugo was another great French Romantic, inspired by Notre Dame. Get close to him at house-museum Maison de Victor Hugo on place des Vosges – a city square full of romancing couples on warm days 4. Discover covered passageways Indulge in the romantic nostalgia of 19th-century Paris in the Right Bank’s covered shopping arcades. Browse antique and secondhand bookshops in Passage Verdeau, and doll house miniatures and old-fashioned toys in Passage Jouffroy. Tea room Le Valentin seduces with homemade gâteaux (cakes). Stroll south to Passage des Panoramas, the first arcade to be lit with gas lamps in 1817. Vintage boutiques burst with collectibles here (stamps, coins, medals, postcards etc) and old-world bistros mix with on-the-trend eating addresses like gluten-free Noglu and Philippe Starck’s Caffè Stern in an old engraving workshop at No 47. From Passage des Panoramas continue to Jardin du Palais Royal, wrapped within the elegant arches of Galerie de Montpensier and Galerie de Valois. Guy Martin’s gastronomic Le Grand Véfour here is the last word in 18th-century opulence. 5. Stroll arm- in-arm down Canal St-Martin finer spots for a romantic stroll or cycle than along 19th-century tow paths of tranquil Canal St-Mar- the iron footbridge by the intersection of rue de la Belles and quai de Jemmapes to watch the vintage swing open to let canal boats pass. Or grab a wa- Chez Prune to boat-watch and fall in love with this Soho-boho quartier. feast on traditional French in the vintage romance sonnier or play it cool with a bottle of wine from and a pizza to take away from Pink Flamingo. There are few the shaded tin. Linger on Grange aux road bridge terside pew at fashionable For lunch of Le Chan- Le Verre Volé 19

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