If a mini-break signals there’s more to a relationship than just shagging (thanks, Bridget Jones), a romantic trip to Paris is going to set wedding bells ringing loud and clear in her head. She will be expecting you to propose, so it’s important a) not to bottle it; and b) to do it in style.
There’s romance on every corner in the city of love and light, but to help you out here are ten of the best original and clichéd places to pop the question. Remember, public displays of affection are the norm in Paris, so don’t be shy. The French aren’t. Oh, and mind the merde…
Up the Eiffel Tower
By day, this monolithic lump of iron isn’t much to write home about. At night, clever lighting transforms it into a delicate golden lattice that appears to float on the cityscape and reflects in the Seine. The tower also twinkles with starry lights on the hour after dark, so time your big moment to coincide. Alternatively, avoid the crowds and souvenir touts by booking a table on the terrace of the Café de l’Homme at nearby Trocadéro, which has some of the best views of the tower.
Over a romantic stroll in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
There are plenty of secluded spots, plus cliffs, mini waterfalls, a lake and a temple with clear views of Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre. You’re likely to come across zen types doing tai chi in this large hilly park, created on the site of a former quarry in north-east Paris during Napoleon III’s radical rebuilding of the city in the 19th century.
Over dinner chez Georges at the Pompidou Centre
This brightly coloured building with its ‘insides’ on the outside is a centre for art and culture – it just looks like a giant kiddies’ play centre. Whatever your take on modern art (last time I visited there was, quite literally, a load of bollocks on display), the sixth-floor restaurant is a find. The interior is all minimalism and aluminium sheeting, the fare is inventive world cuisine and the views of the city centre from the outside terrace are awesome.
In front of the Mur des je t’aime
Say it in any language you want in front of this wall in a public garden on Place des Abbesses, in the heart of Montmartre’s lively shopping, eating and drinking area. It features ‘I love you’ written in 311 tongues. If your French doesn’t extend beyond voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir, then marie-moi is easy to remember. Cheesier than a fondue for two. Speaking of which…
Over fondue for two
Many Parisian eateries are so crammed that the atmosphere is effortlessly intimate; elbow nudging and footsie as you fight over the last dunk of cheese make it all the more so. Sample Burgundy and Savoy specialities in the 5th arrondissement, either in the narrow, bustling pedestrian streets by the Saint Michel fountain or the area around Place Monge and Rue Mouffetard.
On the Pont des Arts
This wide pedestrian bridge is a favourite haunt of amorous Parisians on summer nights. It links the Louvre to the Institut Français and looks onto Ile de la Cité, the island at the heart of the city and site of Notre-Dame cathedral. Bring your own bottle, or cups of vin chaud and a cornet of hot chestnuts (marrons chaud) in winter.
On the steps of Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre
Take a perch on the steps of this wedding cake shaped basilica (the signs are there) at the top of the Montmartre hill and play spot-the-landmarks. On a clear day, you can see well beyond the city limits. There’s always something going on at Sacré-Coeur, from filming to sing-a-long music to street entertainment. Head to nearby Place du Tertre for a celebratory tipple in one of Amélie Poulain’s watering holes.
On La Promenade Plantée
See the eastern 12th arrondissement from above on this amazingly quiet, little-known (shhh) path along an abandoned railway line. It runs the length of the 12th, starting on a viaduct near Bastille and finishing near the Bois de Vincennes wood on the eastern edge of the city.
At a cabaret show
As long as the nudity’s tastefully done, why not? The Moulin Rouge is your obvious choice, though the setting isn’t fantastic: it’s right next to the red-light district Pigalle. In the west end of town are Lido on the Champs-Elysées and Le Crazy Horse on equally swanky Avenue George V. The Horse claims to be ‘the most avant-garde cabaret in Paris’ – not for the faint-hearted, then. Burlesque queen Dita von Teese performed there earlier this year. Actually, best not mention that.
On a cruise of the Seine
The city’s sights and lights are best seen from the water by night. Watch them float by while you enjoy a gourmet dinner tête-à-tête, or just take a sightseeing trip and head out on deck. There’s a huge choice of cruises to book online. If you’re after an intimate setting, you might prefer a small boat to the huge Bateaux-Mouches.