Located in the northwest of Paris and extending from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de Clichy, the 17th arrondissement of Paris might not be the most visited district of the city, however, it has an excellent range of Romantic delights. Mostly occupied by royal hunting grounds until the French Revolution, the area evolved in the 19th century into three zones: Les Batignolles, la Plaine-Monceau and Ternes. All annexed as part of greater Paris in 1860, the two former areas are closely linked, both being part of the Haussmannisation of Paris, with wide avenues and elegant buildings. This new district became one of the most fashionable districts of the late 19th century. However, the area north of these evolved much differently with the birth and growth of the middle class bourg of Les Batignolles, which, fortunately still retains a village feel. Discover romantic highlights of the diverse facets of the 17th in our selection below and if you’re looking to explore Les Batignolles further, pick up a copy of the new Fodor’s Inside Paris, a brand new guide to cool and insider places in Paris for which I wrote the chapter on this district!
Most Romantic Street
Snug between two large streets of the upper north corner of the 17th, it’s hard to top the charm of the bucolic Cité des Fleurs. The cobbled residential lane was created in 1847 and is lined by pretty two or three storey houses, several of which have had famous inhabitants. No. 25 hosted a Resistance unit during World War II and was also the birthplace in 1943 of famous French actresses Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac. Next door at no. 27 was the home of impressionist painter Alfred Sisley who appreciated the country feel of the area, something that you can still enjoy to this day. The lane is accessible from the corner of ave de Clichy and rue Guy Môquet, weekdays during the day and and until 1 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Most Romantic Hidden Street
While it isn’t necessarily romantic in itself, the area around Villiers métro is home to the lovely market street rue Levis and the start of the excellent rue des Dames, a main street in the area. Hidden just off rue des Dames after rue de Levis is a charming pedestrian laneway hidden virtually in plain sight: le Passage Geffroy-Didelot. As you take an amble down, you’ll notice that the passageway hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1843. The north end is extra picturesque with its hanging flags, colorful shopfronts, art studios and cafés–another place which retails the village essence of Les Batignolles.
Most Romantic Historic Site
Did you know there was a … castle in the 17th district?? Mais oui! Tucked amidst the small streets north of Avenue des Ternes is le Château de Ternes. A first castle was built here in 1582 for Pierre Habert, valet of Henri III. The land and building was bought in 1715 by the Secretary of Louis XIV, Pomponne Mirey, who commissioned the building which that still stands on at rue Pierre-Demours and rue Bayen, well except for an archway was cut through the castle to drive through the later street. This makes for a romantic little jaunt up from the nice market street Rue Poncelet and it’s also not far from the bar on this list.
Most Romantic Building
Part of the development of the Plaine Monceau, la Place du Général Catroux is surrounded by a variety of unusual neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance buildings, the most elaborate of which is the castle-like l’Hôtel Gaillard. Found in the southwest corner of the square, the large home was commissioned in 1878 by Emile Gaillard, a banker and collector of Medieval and Renaissance art objects. This passion was carried over into the design of his eclectic home which features architectural components from both of those eras. In 1923 the mansion became a branch of the Banque de France, who still owns it today. The Bank is in the process of transforming it into Citeco, a center that aims to expand the public’s knowledge of the economy. The whole building has just undergone extensive renovations and will open on June 14th. The exhibitions on the economy and banking might not be the most romantic of themes, but you can at least pop inside to have a look at the entrance hall, grab a drink at the café or get a ticket to the exhibit to merely see the rest of the building.
You can also admire other lovely mansions from the same period on the opposite side of the square, up Avenue de Villiers on perpendicular rue Fortuny, and right nearby at our next site.
Most Romantic Museum
The 17th district might have only one museum, but it’s one of the most romantic hidden gems of the city. Located within a late 19th century private mansion is the Musée Jean-Jacques Henner. Although lesser known today, Henner was one of the most important French artists of the 19th century. Winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome, he went on to have an illustrious career, notable for his historic paintings and portraits. His studio was in Place Pigalle, however, in 1921 his niece purchased the former home and studio of Guillaume Dubufe, another stylish 19th century artist, and transformed it into a museum devoted to her uncle’s artwork. The fact that the mansion was designed as a studio-home offers additional value to your visit. The enchanting winter garden (where they hold concerts) and curious architectural elements create the ideal allure for a romantic date.
If you’re interested in learning more about this enigmatic artist and the overall historic importance of the area, then you will love the Plaine Monceau experience offered by Secret Journeys. This boutique tour company offers unique “journeys” which are led by renowned journalists and writers and at special places in Paris. There is always an exclusive, behind the scenes aspect that makes these unparalleled experiences. For example, the Plaine Monceau journey involves an insider tour of the museum, an overview of the area and its importance, a look at artefacts that are not on display and finishes with champagne in the winter garden. This could make a very original romantic outing, especially for people who live in or know Paris well. More info here.
Most Romantic Garden
A nice alternative to the better known and busy nearby Parc Monceau (more on it in our guide to the 8th arrondissement), is the elegant square Square des Batignolles. When the Les Batignolles village became part of Paris in 1860, the area fell under the jurisdiction of Napoléon III’s garden planner, Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand, who chose a large plot of land here for one of the 24 parks he built around the city. A beautiful more natural English garden, like its contemporaries the Bois de Boulogne and the Buttes-Chaumont, as you stroll its curving lanes you’ll pass a wide variety of mature trees, including some from as far as Japan and America, a lovely pond inhabited by ducks, an old fashioned carrousel and plenty of benches for a romantic break.
Most Romantic Magical Restaurant
All aboard the Orient-Express! Aptly located above the Saint Lazare train tracks, Le Wagon Bleu inhabits an actual car of the legendary Orient-Express train (yes!), making it one of the quirkiest and most unique restaurant of Paris. To add another element of travel, the menu is mainly made up of Corsican specialities, granting you a culinary journey to L’Île de Beauté. The restaurant is open every night which is a plus (as well as lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday).
Most Romantic Contemporary Bar & Restaurant
Combine a romantic ambiance with excellent small plates and cocktails at Les Francaises, a stylish restaurant in the center of Les Batignolles. The long dining room has low lighting, perfect tables for two, crawling vines and greenery. Top quality seasonal ingredients are masterfully converted into attractive small dishes to share, ideal for a romantic dinner. These go extremely well with their creative cocktails inspired by some of France’s legendary women, like Françoise Sagan, Simone de Beauvoir and Olympe de Gouges, which adds another nice element for a date. The team is friendly and fun, including managers Mika and Melissa–who have their own magical love story! All of this guarantees that you’ll want to come back soon!
UC-61 / Facebook
Most Romantic Bar
Train cars …. and submarines! The 17th is quirkier than it seems… on the surface! At UC-61 you’ll be transported 1,000 leagues under the sea as you walk through the door (after you find the buzzer to get in). Designed as a submarine, complete with nautical items and cozy seating in the “Captain’s quarters”, this venue will certainly surprise your date. The marine theme is carried over into their inventive cocktails such as “Sergeant Pepper” “When Doves Cry” and “Pedro Álvares Cabral.”
Most Romantic Place with it All
The very heart of the Batignolles district, Place du Dr Félix Lobligeois, is the crossroads of the area and from where you can access all the other romantic pleasures of the 17th district which is why I’ve given it the grand finale place on the list! Least us not forget its charm, beauty and history! The square was created in 1825 when rue des Batignolles was driven through the fields that once extended here. It encircles the neo-classical Église Sainte-Marie des Batignolles, built in conjunction with the square, and is fringed on the northside by the aforementioned Square des Batignolles. Once home to the local town hall, it still feels like the center of the Batignolles village thanks to its little boutiques, buzzing cafés terraces and shaded benches where you can also sit with your chéri/e to soak up the ambiance.
Happy romancing in the 17th district! The below google map can help you track down these places. Then carry on your romantic explorations of Paris in the other articles in the series below or find many more ideas for unique romantic outings in our Paris date ideas section.
- 1st Arrondissement
- 2nd Arrondissement
- 3rd Arrondissement
- 4th Arrondissement
- 5th Arrondissement
- 6th Arrondissement
- 7th Arrondissement
- 8th Arrondissement
- 9th Arrondissement
- 10th Arrondissement
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- 14th Arrondissement
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