The Parisian macaron has become a tea-time institution, a sweet, meringue-based confection made with ground almonds and available in a rainbow of colours and flavours. Don’t visit Paris without stopping by at Ladurée on the grand Champs-Élysées, a chic patisserie which first shot to fame thanks to its diamond-standard macarons. You can choose and buy individual ones to take home in an exquisite turquoise box, but if you have time, book a table for tea and do it all properly in the elegant surroundings.
Oysters are famous aphrodisiacs – and you don’t have to be in Normandy or Brittany to taste them. Paris has some fabulous seafood restaurants among its gastronomic line-up; La Coupole in Montparnasse has a reputation for its oysters, delivered fresh every day and expertly shucked and served on vast gleaming platters. Try several different varieties: Marennes d’Oléron, Spéciale Gillardeau, flat oysters and those from Normandy’s Utah Beach, and who knows – it could really heighten your romantic experience!
Cheese and wine pairings
Arguably two of France’s most iconic products, no romantic stay in the capital would be complete without cheese and wine. Brimming with dairy delights and seating just 14 people, this tiny fromagerie beside the Canal St-Martin is the ultimate intimate foodie retreat with its warm, cosy atmosphere overlooking the water. The helpful staff will let you taste numerous cheeses expertly paired with wines, and if you’ve over-ordered don’t worry: whatever you don’t eat can be wrapped up and taken home. There are large wheels of classic favourites as well as lesser-known varieties, so whether you’re a cheese snob or a novice, you’re bound to be satisfied.
Booking ahead at weekends is advised.
Many of the world’s most famous cocktails originated in Paris. Drink like a Parisian at a plethora of beautiful bars, watching expert mixers making you the perfect aperitif. You could order a French 75 (a Soixante-Quinze), a simple but stunning blend of gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar. Or try a Sidecar, with cognac and orange liqueur. If love is in the air, perhaps only a pink cocktail will do: in which case the vermouth-based Rose, created at renowned Parisian bar The Chatham in the 1920s, should do the trick, or a Kir Royale with its dash of purple Crème de Cassis.
It’s hard to talk about cocktail bars without mentioning the Experimental Group. It’s been almost 10 years since the three childhood friends opened their first Parisian bar together – the Experimental Cocktail Club in Montorgeuil. Already the height of fashion in New York, Paris was seriously lacking in cocktail options, and it was an immediate hit. The brothers soon opened a sister establishment in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés – the Prescription Cocktail Club – with the same combination of cosy décor, groovy jazz music and super-professional bar staff who delight guests with personalised concoctions. Don’t miss these cosy cocktail bars…
- In the Haut Marais district, Le Démon’s cocktails are a must. Take a seat in the real gem of a bar above the Beaucoup restaurant and settle into the cosy atmosphere: sheepskin throws on the armchairs, a brass bar top, and a magnificent black and white mural signed by the artist Paola Parès.
- Le Kult at the Hôtel Saint is the answer. In a charming quiet street on the outskirts of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the romantic floral façade of the hotel draws you in immediately. Soft and refined, the interior design combines 19th-century Parisian charm with an English gentleman’s club feel and a mahogany bar. Once settled in, taste one of 10 cocktails created especially for the hotel.
- A few streets away, explore another hidden gem, L’Hôtel designed by Jacques Garcia, on rue des Beaux Arts. Built in 1828, the hotel has welcomed many celebrities over the years: Oscar Wilde, Salvador Dali, Princess Grace of Monaco, Frank Sinatra, Jim Morrison and Serge Gainsbourg. The glamorous, flamboyantly-decorated bar is the perfect setting for a Plytchi, one of the house cocktails with a gin and rose syrup base.
- Same district, different feel, the Cinq Codet’s bar has a more contemporary but refined atmosphere. With a loft-like feel, softened by the green and black 1930s tones, the hotel lets customers sip cocktails in its bar or on the fabulous patio.
- Crossing the river Seine, we come to the Montorgeuil district to relive the crazy years of the Hôtel Bachaumont. Its bar – the Night Flight – developed with the cocktail-bar masters of the Experimental Group, has décor and indeed a menu inspired by travel. It’s all about velvet, black marble and open fires… luxurious surroundings for cocktail tasting!
Wines from a secret vineyard
Vineyards in Paris? Mais oui! It’s not easy to make good wine in a polluted city, but it’s not impossible. Discover this tranquil place in the north of the city. Owned by the mairie of Paris, the Clos Montmartre is the oldest and last active vineyard in the capital and consists of 1,900 vines of the most classic varieties from France’s wine-producing regions, plus a number of hybrids. Each year’s wine labels are painted by local artists and the money raised goes to charity. Oenologist Francis Gourdin leads guided tours during the vendange(grape harvest), welcoming wine-lovers from all over France. The Clos Montmartre wine is available to buy for around €45 per bottle – something to drink back home when you’re feeling romantic?