Labelled as the most romantic city in the world, Paris is the perfect place for a Valentine’s Day break. Take a look at our must-see sights for any Valentine’s Day in Paris. And just for fun, we’ve included some Valentine’s Day facts to impress (and definitely not bore) your other half.
At only 2 hr 16 mins from London, you’ll be in the city of love quicker than you can say ‘Je t’aime’.
In 2020, Valentine’s Day is on a Friday, giving you a chance to turn this one-day celebration into an extended romantic weekend in Paris.
With so many iconic landmarks and cute districts to explore, you can easily spend hours strolling the streets hand-in-hand. Oh, and don’t forget to take lots of snaps along the way – they’ll be cherished mementos for years to come.
Symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic sights in the world. A marvel of engineering, it was built in 1889 and has been visited by over 300 million people ever since. If it’s your first trip to Paris, the iron lady is an absolute must-see. Hot tip: try going there at night to see the 20,000 bulbs light up this world-famous landmark.
A cruise on the Seine is undoubtedly one of the most romantic things you can do on Valentine’s Day in Paris. Jump in a typical Bateaux-Mouche (an open excursion boat) for just over an hour and navigate across the city and its bridges to admire the many gilded monuments. If you can, do it at night when Paris is all lit up – it’s simply magical. With departures every 30 minutes or so and prices starting from €14, it would be a shame to miss it.
Fancy a little bit of exercise to work up an appetite for your Valentine’s Day meal? Climb up the 284 steps of the Arc de Triomphe, the biggest arch in the world. Once at the top, you can enjoy an amazing view of the Champs Elysees, which stretches over two kilometres. L’arc de Triomphe is open every day from 10am to 10:30pm between January and March and tickets only cost €12.
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Valentine’s Day in Paris, head over to the Luxembourg Gardens for some quiet time. Located next to the Latin Quarter and the fashionable Saint-Germain-des-Pré, this manicured 25 acres of parkland is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll. This is also where Parisians go jogging or take their children for an impromptu Punch and Judy show.
Quintessentially romantic, Montmartre is one of the most picturesque areas of Paris. Sitting at the top of a 130-meter hill, it is also known as the artist district due to the number of street painters who gather every day to paint tourists’ portraits. Its steep cobbled streets are strewn with French brasseries’ terraces, where people sit to watch the world go by - giving Montmartre a captivating bohemian-chic vibe not to be missed.
While places like the Eiffel Tower and a cruise on the Seine seem like obvious choices to inspire romantic experiences, it is worth exploring some off-the-beaten track places too. We’ve picked some addresses to get your hearts racing, from seductive cocktail haunts to a bridge with a view. For lovers, it’s often the smallest details that make a trip truly special, like slipping out early to fetch your beloved a fresh-baked pain au chocolat for breakfast in bed.
Be whisked back to a more romantic age at this elegant mansion in Montmartre, built in 1830 by painter Ary Scheffer. The artistic and literary greats of the day attended his Friday-night soirées, including George Sands and Charles Dickens. Today, it’s an atmospheric time-capsule of mementos and objets d’art, with an utterly charming tearoom set in the rose-tangled courtyard, making it the perfect spot for a cup of tea this Valentine’s Day in Paris.
For jewellery that’s handmade in the Marais, drop by Nadia Azoug’s bijou workshop, where every piece can be customised on request. Her designs exude Parisian cool, without being overstated – like the tiny, eye-imprinted amulets and artfully-stacked gold bracelets. Rings run from simple, sculptural bands to proposal-worthy numbers, scattered with coloured gemstones or studded with tiny diamonds. Ideal for a Valentine's day gift.
Cosy up at this sultry, central-Paris hammam, a few streets away from the Centre Pompidou. Following a head-to-toe renovation, it’s a chic spot to kick back, with handsome Turkish baths, a sauna, and cocooning treatment rooms. Book in for restorative black-soap scrubs and side-by-side massages, then lunch in the light-filled restaurant, whose menu runs from sea-bream sashimi to opulent, truffle-laced pasta.
This Left-Bank legend is a byword for Belle Époque excess, with its ornate frescos, red-velvet bar and gleaming chandeliers. In situ since 1766, it’s famed for its salons privés, sumptuous private dining rooms where illicit liaisons flourished. High-flying politicos used to sneak in through a secret tunnel. Expect classic French cooking at its most extravagant, from a moreish duck pie to blue Breton lobster.
The city’s fashion crowd adores florist Pierre Banchereau, who’s worked with the likes of Vuitton and Valentino. Known for his bold, generous bouquets, he often champions unlikely flowers; thanks to him, even the humble chrysanthemum’s made a comeback. Blooms are arranged on sculptural white plinths in his South Pigalle HQ, while a pair of resident parrots chatter in the background.
Dress up for lunch at this resplendent two-star restaurant, modelled on the owner’s château in Bordeaux. Aperitifs are served in the Grand Salon, with its gilt-framed portraits and antiques, after which you’re ushered down to one of three stately dining rooms. Chef Christophe Pelé’s cooking is exquisite but audacious – including his eyebrow-raising ‘sweetbread KFC-style’.
Scores of bridges cross the Seine, but Bir-Hakeim offers the ultimate backdrop for a Valentine's day in Paris selfie. It’s a soaring, steel-spanned affair with the metro running on the upper level, famed for its heart-racing views of the Eiffel Tower. Halfway along, a flight of stairs leads down to the Île aux Cygnes, a narrow, car-free islet, with a tree-lined promenade and benches for quiet tête-à-têtes.
The decadent cocktails at this Pigalle hotel bar reflects its racy past, with drinks named after celebrated courtesans and sirens. The signature Belle Otéro has a sprinkling of caviar powder, while the Dita blends yuzu liqueur with champagne and cardamom vodka. Jacques Garcia’s interior design is equally lavish, from the velvet-swathed, wood-panelled Reading Room to the gilded, Moorish-inspired lounge.
Picture this. You’re in a bistro in Paris for Valentine’s Day. Your partner is sat on the other side of a candlelit table. Conversation is flowing. But then – silence. Your mind goes blank. You’ve got nothing to say.
Don’t worry, we’re sure it won’t happen. But if it does, just drop one of these facts about Valentine’s Day and hey presto, problem solved.
The beginning of Valentine’s Day remains uncertain and historians are still debating on its exact origins.
Pagan priests, also known as the Luperci, used to scarify goats and get drunk to celebrate the god of fertility, Luperus. The priests would then roam around town, barely dressed, touching passers-by in the process. Young women would approach them hoping to be touched believing it would make them more fertile. This ritual took place each year on 15 February.
In ancient Greece, love and fertility was celebrated between mid-January to mid-February. In 496, the Catholic Church decided Valentine’s Day would be celebrated on 14 February to thwart the Greeks and the Romans.
For some people, the origin of Valentine's Day dates back to the 14th century and coincides with – as was believed at the time – the date when birds mate. On this day, it was traditional to exchange love poems and call each other 'valentine' - one's sweetheart.
Valentine’s Day in Brazil is overshadowed by their carnival which happens around the same time. A similar celebration of love happens on 12 June instead called Saint Anthony's Day. In Japan, it is down to the ladies to offer chocolates to their loved one who will have to reciprocate a month later on 14 March.
In Denmark, it is traditional for the men to offer a bouquet of white flowers called snowdrops and to write a funny poem called ‘gaekkebrev’. The Chinese equivalent to Valentine's Day is the ‘Qixi Festival’ which takes place on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month. The legend behind it dates back to an ill-fated love affair between a cowherd and a young goddess during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).
Valentine’s Day in French is called “la Saint Valentin”.