Every district in Paris has its charms, and although the 14th arrondissement isn’t on everyone’s list of top places to visit in Paris, this mostly residential district in the south of the city has some lovely attributes — especially for repeat visitors or locals. From legendary cafés to quirky theaters and from hidden parks to gorgeous cobbled streets, enjoy an offbeat romantic jaunt in the 14ème with our mini-guide below!
Most Romantic Historic Site
I have to say I’m a bit biased with this choice, however, it’s still highly worthy of being on this list. Right down on the southern border of the district is perhaps the most unique international center in the world: La Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris. Begun in 1925 in the aftermath of WWI and with the aim of promoting peace and unity, the sprawling complex has over 40 different student residencies. These are mostly organized by nationality, yet each house has a certain percentage of students and professors from other countries, including la Maison Argentine, my first home in Paris. The three best months of my life, we made friends from across the globe… and got into a certain amount of mischief (some described in my second book). While the weekend parties aren’t open to the public, anyone can enter the complex during the day or come for the cultural events held at the various houses. It’s a great place for a unique stroll where you can admire the residences which include one of Paris’ few buildings designed by Le Corbusier, la Pavillon Suisse. The castle-like Collège d’Espagne is also one of my favorites. There’s a large lawn where you can relax after your stroll, weather permitting. You can also carry on your stroll across the street at the lovely Parc Montsouris… which you can travers to get to the next site on the list.
Most Romantic Street
Since it was once on the fringes of Paris, the 14th district does have some charming narrow lanes. Rue des Thermopyles often steals the limelight, that said, it’s rather depressing looking in winter and there are currently (winter 2019) road works taking place on the street, which degrades its beauty. Instead, I recommend Square Montsouris, a private (but accessible) street on the west side of the park. What makes it more unique than a lot of the other “villa” streets in Paris, is that this one is lined with enchanting Art Nouveau and Art Deco homes, so while it’s more attractive in summer, the red/oranged tone houses art color all year round. It’s so romantic that I even caught some lovers in a tender embrace when I was there the other day – tried and tested romantic clout! It is a through road, not an impasse, so you can exit the other end and carry on walking through the neighborhood towards the other spots on our list.
Most Romantic Hidden Place
One of the most enchanting secret places in all of Paris is hiding within the complex of the Cochin Hospital. A hodgepodge of buildings from various eras, the oldest part of the hospital used to be an abbey dating back to 1626, now called the Cloisters of Port Royal. It developed into a center for the strict Catholic Jansenism order and also became the home of various influential aristocratic ladies. Not surprisingly, it was closed during the Revolution and served as a prison from 1790-95. It was then converted into a maternity ward which led to its conversion into a full hospital. This abbey building and its romantic cloister still exists today. You can access it via the entrance of the hospital at 123 Bd Port Royals, just tell the security checkpoint that you would like to visit the cloister (“on peut visiter la cloitre?”). They will wave you in, then walk on the right side on the first building. Take the middle door of the building and it’ll lead you to the gorgeous garden bordered by arches and roses. Take a moment to sit down on one of the benches and savor its peaceful atmosphere.
Most Romantic Building(s)
Not far from the above are some of the most curious buildings in the south of Paris, conveniently all in a row on rue Cassini. The street was named after astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini, who was in charge of the nearby Observatory of Paris back in the late 17th century. Fast forward to the early 20th century when outer districts of Paris, like the 16th, 18th and here in the 14th, held prime land for new buildings. At number 3 bis is an Art Nouveau private mansion designed in 1906 by architects Louis Sue and Paul Huillard for the painter Lucien Simon. Next door at number 5 is another Art Nouveau building, the brick home and studio of artist Jean-Paul Laurens, built in 1903. At number 7 is another alluring design by Sue and Huillard done in 1903 for the artist Czernichowski. Across the street at number 12 is another art studio, this time constructed a little later in 1930 by architect Charles Abella and in the Art Deco style. These are a far but beautiful contrast to the above cloisters and pair well with the below.
Most Romantic Garden
I was all for listing the district’s large Parc Montsouris as the most romantic garden in the 14th (do take an amble through the park if you are in the area), then I dug a little deeper and found this secret verdant oasis that I feel merits being on the list instead. The romantic ambiance is nicely set up as you ver off busy Rue d’Alésia and onto the lovely lane of the Villa Alésia (also a nice street to visit!). After the bend you’ll see a passway through a building on the left, take it to surprise your chéri/e with this hidden park: the Square Lionel-Assouad. Although it’s a newer park, opened in 2000, it’s horticultural roots actually go back 100 years when the land was used to grow rose and lilac bushes. While it has a nice lawn for lounging in the sun with your love, the attraction for me is row of terribly romantic trelasses interspersed with benches, the perfect place for a romantic break on your stroll through the neighborhood. You could even pick up some picnic supplies from the nearby market street rue Daguerre to enjoy in the greenspace.
Most (Offbeat) Romantic Place to Stroll
How could we explore the 14th district without including one of its most famous sites. No, not the Catacombs (hardly romantic!), but the Cimetière du Montparnasse. Some of you might be thinking… but how is a cemetery romantic? In Paris they are! I would have to say that the Pere Lachaise cemetery, with its gentle slopes and tree-lined lanes, is probably more romantic, nevertheless, this large final resting place, also built in the early 1800s, holds its own. Like Pere Lachaise, the Montparnasse cemetery has a star line up of “residents,” predominately notable figures of the 20th century including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Chaïm Soutine, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Baudelaire, Man Ray and Samuel Beckett, to name but a few.
You can borrow laminated maps available at the entrances and searching for your favorite celebrities makes for a fun romantic amble. I’d suggest seeking out Serge Gainsbourg’s grave (and keep a used métro ticket handy to leave to him in homage of his song Le Poinconneur des Lilas) and the grave of Constantin Brancusi optly adorned with his sculpture Le Baiser (The Kiss). If you enter or reach the southwest part of the site, you’ll likely spot a windmill. Like Montmartre, “Mont Parnasse” also had dozens of windmills, several of which stood here before the cemetery was laid out. Le Moulin de la Charité is the only one that was spared and is thought to date back to the 17th century.
Most Romantic Theatrical Place
While the Opéra district is usually associated with Paris’ theater scene, the 14th district actually has several notable venues — most of which are clustered together on rue de la Gaité. There are in fact a total of six different theaters on the street, including the legendary Bobino but also the La Comédie Italienne with its whimsical facade. It can be fun just to take a wander down the street, but better yet, book tickets to a show, then come early enough to gaze up at the other theaters and grab a drink to people watch the street which is buzzing with the theater crowd most nights. Theatre in Paris, who arrange French plays with English surtitles, usually have one play available on this street (or even without language like Che Malambo currently at Bobino). Also look out for their special expat nights where you can grab a drink with a friendly bunch of theater fans before the show, the perfect original date night! Keep up to date on future events by joining their Facebook group here.
Most Romantic Cafe/Bar/Restaurant/Cinema
One of Paris’ coolest cinema-cafés has just been revamped… and it makes for the perfect all-in-one date venue! Formerly known as L’Entrepot, this historic cultural venue received a facelift last year and reopened in the autumn as Le Lieu Secret. Originally opened in 1975 in an old textile warehouse (an “entrepot”), the venue’s main focus was avant garde film. Cinema is still a focal point of this new incarnation, so you can catch a film, see a play, attend a conference or simply enjoy its stunning “secret” restaurant and courtyard terrace, ideal for some modern romancing.
Most Romantic Restaurant
One of the city’s best neo-bistrots is tucked away on a quiet side street of the 14th and its remote location has definitely help L’Assiette retain its authenticity. For these mini-guides I always try to find a balance between a romantic setting and great food, something that can be challenging, though not so with this attractive bistrot with classic wooden tables, marble countertop and preserved painted ceiling. After over a decade perfecting his culinary skills under Alain Ducasse at several of his restaurants, Chef David Rathgeber carries on France’s best bistrot traditions by taking over this historic venue once frequented by the likes of President Francois Mitterrand. Although Rathgeber has become a little darling of the French media, his charisma and excellent skill landing him regular TV appearances, the bistrot is laid back and firmly centered on creating exquisite cuisine. The menu has many tempting French specialties like escargots, hare à la royale and their signature cassoulet.
Most Romantic Place with it All
How could I showcase the 14th district without including its most mythical location: Montparnasse. So I’ve decided that it “has it all” and put it in this last category. This once working class area came to life in the 1920s when it became the hub of bohemian Paris. Pick up any Paris-set book by the Lost Generation writers and you’ll inevitably come across vivid references of the cafés which mostly still line Boulevard du Montparnasse. The large axis might be the border of the 6th and 14th and thus several of the cafés are technically in the 6th, nonetheless, for me, I always associate Montparnasse with the 14th. In fact two of its most iconic cafés are on the 14th side: La Coupole and Le Dome. The area is buzzing at night where you can get a drink at the former before going to the latter for dinner (much more intimate – try to book a booth in the window). Certainly this is not a cheap date night, but a memorable splurge where you can imagine back to when Picasso or Hemingway might be breezing through with their latest flame on their elbow.
If these places are out of your budget, you can also slowly meander by and gaze into the window before heading to one of the creperies on nearby rue du Montparnasse, their bustling spirit romantic in a different way. Although the Joselin Creperies might be more famous, I find Le Plougastel more romantic and less frantic, and therefore more fitting for a date. These are all also around the corner from rue de la Gaité, so could be combined for a perfect evening out in the arrondissement.
Happy romancing in the 14th! Find these places easily via the Google Map below and continue your romantic explorations of the districts of Paris in the other articles in the series:
- 1st Arrondissement
- 2nd Arrondissement
- 3rd Arrondissement
- 4th Arrondissement
- 5th Arrondissement
- 6th Arrondissement
- 7th Arrondissement
- 8th Arrondissement
- 9th Arrondissement
- 10th Arrondissement
- 11th Arrondissement
- 12th Arrondissement
- 13th Arrondissement
- 15th Arrondissement
You can also find many more ideas for cool romantic outing ideas in our Paris date ideas section here.