The world’s most romantic city has no shortage of beguiling spots, but the Seine and its surrounds are Paris at its most seductive. On this walk, you’ll pass graceful gardens, palaces, intimate parks, a flower market and an enchanting bookshop. Descend the steps along the quays where it’s possible to stroll along the river’s edge.
Start: Place de la Concorde; (M) Concorde
Finish: Jardin des Plantes; (M) Gare d’Austerlitz
Length: 7km; three hours
1. Jardin des Tuileries
After taking in the ‘yes-we’re-really-in-Paris’ panorama from Place de la Concorde, stroll through the leafy Jardin des Tuileries.
2. Jardin du Palais Royal
Browse the colonnaded arcades flanking the peaceful gardens of the Jardin du Palais Royal, adjoining the 17th-century palace where Louis XIV once lived.
3. Cour Carrée
Walk through the Jardin de l’Oratoire to the reflective Cour Carrée (‘square courtyard’) of the Louvre, where buskers often play classical music, and exit at the Jardin de l’Infante (Garden of the Princess), which Monet painted in 1867.
4. Square du Vert Galant
From the Pont Neuf, take the steps to the park perched at the tip of the Île de la Cité, Square du Vert Galant, before ascending to place du Pont Neuf and crossing place Dauphine.
5. Marché aux Fleurs
Parisians have been buying bouquets at the bloom-filled Marché aux Fleurs for centuries. Choose carefully - tradition has it that nine chrysanthemums are only for cemeteries, carnations bring bad luck, and yellow roses imply adultery.
6. Shakespeare & Company
Amid handpainted quotations, make a wish in the wishing well, leave a message on the ‘mirror of love’ or curl up with a volume of poetry in the attic-like reading library of the magical bookshop Shakespeare & Company.
7. Love Locks
Cross Pont de l’Archevêché - one of many Parisian bridges covered in padlocks (to the chagrin of city authorities). The locks are attached by couples who throw the key into the Seine as a symbol of eternal love.
From the Île de la Cité take Pont St-Louis to the Île St-Louis, lined with quaint boutiques and tearooms, and share a delectable ice cream from famous glacier (ice-cream maker) Berthillon.
9. Jardin des Plantes
End your romantic meander at the tranquil botanic gardens the Jardin des Plantes. For the ultimate dénouement, cruise back along the Seine by Batobus.
If you need to take a break...
The Seine’s islands - the Île de la Cité and the Île St-Louis - have plenty of enticing places to eat and/or drink, such as Ma Salle à Manger (www.masalleamanger.com), as well as some picturesque spots for a picnic. Or simply leave it to serendipity (which is, after all, the essence of every great romance).
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