Beautiful sites, fancy cafés and wine. Here’s how to plan the perfect day in the city of love
Surely there is no better place to spend Valentine's Day than in the world's most romantic city. If you’ve booked a spontaneous day trip to Paris on the 14th Feb, and you have no idea what to do while you’re there - we’ve got you covered. Staying clear of the cheesy things-to-do (like sticking a love padlock on the Love Lock Bridge), we’ve crafted the perfectly sophisticated 24-hour itinerary for you and your partner.
Want more? Check out the top 5 cafes in Paris
Once you have arrived nice and early in the morning at Paris Gare Du Nord station on the Eurostar, or at one of the Paris airports make your way to your accommodation. Whether you’re staying in a boutique hotel or budgeting with a private room at one our hostels, dump your bags as you won’t be needing to return here for the rest of the day.
Your first stop should be the Eiffel Tower because it’s further out from the rest of the city and makes a great starting point. How you get there depends on where your accommodation is located but you can either get an uber or the metro (after this you’re pretty much done with the metro for the day). The Eiffel Tower is the attraction everyone has to see at least once in their life. This is where our itinerary starts.
Once you arrive, take some photos. The first thing you’ll realise about the Eiffel Tower is how huge it actually is. Perhaps the best photo spot around here is on the other side of the vast grassy area.
This is also where you can get your first taste of Parisian crepes.
This food van is located just next to the Eiffel Tower and they make the crepes fresh right in front of you. Whether you choose savoury or sweet, these crepes are really yummy. I had a nutella one and would highly recommend them.
Explore the city
From here you can buy a ticket on the City Sightseeing Paris tour. It’s a hop-on-hop-off bus that costs 25 euros for the day. This is a pretty reasonable price and means avoiding trying to work out the more complex, hot and sweaty Metro system. The bus will take you through the main sites and it’s the easiest way to get around and explore the city when you have such little time. Paris is a big city and quite spread out.
You’ll be surprised how much you can see while driving around that you wouldn’t be able to if you were on foot. Hop off at any stop you want - with the aid of the trusty map. You can substitute some of the sites we’ve included in our itinerary, if you would rather see something else.
Alternatively, you can go on hop-on-hop-off one day boat cruise of the River Seine, starting at the Eiffel Tower. It will take you around Paris’ major sites while you relax on the water with some champagne - but as you can imagine it’s a lot more pricey than the bus. Worth it though (and a lot more romantic)!
Hop-on hop-off river stops: Eiffel Tower Musée d'Orsay Saint-Germain-des-Prés Notre Dame Cathedral Jardin des Plantes/Cité de la Mode Hôtel de Ville Louvre Museum (between Pont Royal and Pont du Carrousel) Champs-Elysées Beaugrenelle. Book here!
On both tours (the tour bus and the river cruise), you’ll pass many famous sites such as the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay which is pretty awesome so keep your camera ready.
Perhaps one of the nicest, most upmarket part of Paris is the Saint Germain neighbourhood.
So make this your first stop. Get off here, walk around and experience the charm of this attractive area. Stroll alongside the river Seine and then soak in the opulent buildings and luxury stores in the main town. The main reason you’ll want to stop here though is for a hearty Parisian lunch.
Café Du Flore
And you don’t get more Parisian than here. For lunch and a seriously satisfying coffee fix, walk to Cafe Du Flore. Also located in the Saint Germain neighbourhood and a short walk from the bus and river stop, this is one of the oldest Parisian coffeehouses - so well worth a visit. It has something truly special about it so it’s perfect for a Valentine’s Day lunch. Filled with middle-class locals and known for its famous clientele, you will really feel like you’re in upmarket Paris here.
Selling the most elegant, beautiful pastries and cakes, coffee and brunchy-food from club sandwiches, salads to omelettes, there’s lots to choose from. The menu is a little on the pricey side - but well worth it for special occasions. Maybe even treat yourself to some afternoon champagne.
I would recommend the shepherd’s pie if you’re going for lunch or the omelette with wild mushrooms if you fancy breakfast.
Hop back on the city bus/boat and get off at the next stop. The Notre Dam.
It’s honestly beautiful and perhaps the world’s best example of French Gothic architecture. Explore the inside of the classic cathedral for free and if you’d like to check out the bell tower, you’ll have to pay a small fee. There are a lot of stairs going up to the bell tower so be warned. Once you’re done here, there are some lovely streets to wander around. But be careful of pickpockets here. They tend to hover around the Notre Dame.
You don’t want to pack your day with too many sites or you’ll be shattered by the evening. You only have a day after, all. If you really want to fit more in though, get back on your city tour and try and see one more site! Head back to your accommodation, put your feet up and recharge. Get your best outfit on and when it’s time to head back out, we recommend hopping in an uber to travel to dinner in style (just to make it that little more stress-free and relaxed).
Where to go for dinner
As you can imagine, Paris has an abundance of nice restaurants to choose from. But as you’re in France, you must experience the best of French cuisine. Choosing the right place for Valentine’s however can be tricky with so much choice. A romantic evening dinner where you can make a bit of an effort with an atmosphere that makes the night feel special. Here are French restaurants we recommend for V day:
27 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris, France
Views of the Eiffel Tower when lit up at night are truly sensational from this restaurant. Try and get a table next to a window if you can. This is an expensive option for dinner but if you’re budget allows you to splurge, Les Ombres won’t let you down for a romantic evening. Boasting a contemporary, elegant interior designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and a fabulous terrace, you will really feel spoiled here. You’ll find inventive dishes, mouth-watering desserts and a varied wine list. We recommend the duck breast or the baby pork shoulder from the a la carte menu. Keep in mind eating here could cost around 180 to 200 Euros for 2 people.
3 Rue Racine, 75006 Paris, France
For truly authentic and delicious French cuisine, this cosy little find - housed inside a characterful historical building - is definitely one to consider. Located in between Quartier Latin, Odeon and Saint Michel, this restaurant serves up a mix of traditional specialties (suckling pig for example) and more modern dishes. Inside you’ll find beautiful 1900s decor, the walls carved of wood, ceramics, mirrors and glass paintings. A truly romantic French interior with an old fashioned, high-style edge boasting a great atmosphere. Test out the special Valentine’s menu!
A La Biche Au Bois
45 Avenue Ledru-Rollin, 75012 Paris, France
A true gem. Don’t judge A La Biche Au Bois on its humble discreet exterior. The French food it serves is authenticity at its finest, not to mention comforting and reasonably priced. It has visitors flooding back every time they return to Paris. With such a busy, bustling atmosphere every evening this spot is never empty and the customers are always smiling. What more can you want from a restaurant: delicious value-for-money food, good wine and an excellent hearty cheese platter. Order the coq a vin; it will be the best you’ve ever tasted.
Ideally you want to find a bar within a short walk of your chosen restaurant. There will be plenty so finish your night at one nearby.
Then, head back to your accommodation, sleep and make your flight out the next morning! If you have a later flight on Wednesday, pay a visit to the Louvre. While it’s massive and can take hours to get around it, if you’re in a bit of hurry take a quick look at the Mona Lisa - and head straight to the airport from there! If you have more time to kill, find a nice café, take your time and embrace some more of the city.
Need a bed? Book a private room at our Paris Gare Du Nord hostel
Article by Shereen Sagoo