One of the largest Parisian districts, the 18th arrondissement has some of the most romantic places in Paris. Many of these places are located in the old village of Montmartre, whose renown is well deserved and, yes, there are some fantastic places to enjoy away from the very non-romantic crowds swarming around Sacré-Coeur… which you won’t find directly on this list. Instead, I encourage you to get lost on the quieter sides of the hill, where you’ll find many of the places on this list. But not all of them. I’ve added a few more offbeat suggestions too. I’m lucky to call “la Butte” my home, but I wasn’t always in love with it (more on that in this piece for HiP Paris), but you’ll see why I fell for it by visiting some of the unique places below!
Most Romantic Street
Although it’s not really a secret anymore, Villa Leandre is still super charming and, so far, hasn’t been overrun with selfie snapping visitors. Created in 1926 and originally called Villa Junot, after the its larger street tributary, it was renamed Villa Leandre in 1936, after the turn of the 20th century caricature artist Charles Léandre who had his studio nearby. The cobbled cul de sac is lined with whimsical “anglo-Normand” style houses, akin to the houses of the Cité Florale listed in our guide to the 13th arrondissement and to other villa streets found other neighborhoods. This street is quite unique in Montmartre and the perfect place to steal a kiss on your romantic stroll in the neighborhood!
Most Romantic Building
One day crossing the Montmartre cemetery bridge I happened to notice on the other side of la cimitière what looked like a … castle tower. Hmmm… I had to go and investigate. Tracing what seemed to be the correct backstreets I managed to track it down and discovered this whimsical building’s story. The towered building I found at the end of the Impasse Marie Blanche is the neo-gothic mansion la Maison Eymonaud.
Previously known as the hôtel de l’Escalopier, the house’s exact origins are a little murky, however, the current structure is a part of the home built for the count Marie-Joseph-Charles de l’Escalopier in 1835. A historian and passionate collector, he had a library added to the building to store his 5,000 books and collection of medieval silversmith. The current incarnation of the building is a result of modifications done in 1892-1900 for a certain antique-dealer Ernest Eymonaud. In 1995 it was classified as a national monument, yet few people know about it and it remains a hidden gem of Montmartre which you can surprise your amoureux with! The gate right at the beginning is sometimes closed, but you can still see a good amount from in front of it.
Most Romantic Garden
The densely packed 18th arrondissement of Paris might contain one of the fewest amount of green spaces, nevertheless, of the ones it does have, there are several wonderfully charming ones. The little park behind the Square des Abbesses, le Square Jehan-Rictus, contains the famous love wall, but it’s always swarming with people. Instead make your way to its back corner to discover the hidden Jardin des Abbesses. Part of the former gardens of the Abbey which occupied the surroundings, this small oasis has trelasses climbing in roses and some medicinal plants of the variety used back in medieval times. Few people make their way through here, making it the ideal spot for romantic moment. (Note: the garden was temporarily closed at the time of publication. It is scheduled to reopen in July 2019 – if it’s still closed during your stroll in the area stop by the Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet, found behind Sacré-Coeur is a good backup).
Most Romantic Square
Tucked away behind the overcrowded and touristy Place du Tertre, is the much much less visited Place du Calvaire. Located between the vine laden restaurant Chez Plumeau (gorgeous in spring) and the Dali Museum (whose signs you can follow to locate it), the little square has some romantic benches to cuddle on as well as a wall to perch on. These overlook the city, buildings of Montmartre and some sneaky views of the Eiffel Tower in between the buildings to the bottom right of the vista. It’s been known to instigate romance… and even marriage proposals!
Most Romantic Staircase
This is the 18th after all, this is a very pertinent category since the district has 30 of them! I actually have a few favourites but I’ve chosen the one of Passage Cottin for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s rarely anyone else that uses these steps found less than 100 meters from Sacré-Coeur. Secondly, if you’re climbing up them you’ll reach Rue du Chevalier de la Barre which, if you go ahead a little bit, has a small set up stairs that has a magical view of the back of the Basilica–the one catch with those particular steps is that they can have people hanging around at the top, so not always romantic (but it can be especially in the morning or early afternoon on sunny days!). Back on Passage Cottin, the stairs have romantic little nooks where you can stop for a kiss or cuddle… and at the bottom is a picturesque alley which could lead to more smooching. And all this without the crowds amassed nearby!
Most Romantic Museum
Now, like the 17th Arrondissement, there very few museums in the 18th, however, as was the case in the 17th, what does exist is very romantic and historically significant to the district. Considered the oldest house in Montmartre and formerly the art studio of Renoir, Degas, Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo, Le Musée de Montmartre is nestled on a quiet street a stone’s throw from Sacré-Coeur yet it feels a world away. The rarely crowded museum has collections on the history of the area (of particular note the section on cabarets) and in the front wing you can see the reconstructed art studio and interesting temporary exhibits. The setting is truly exceptional and romantic and as you visit the exterior areas, you are treated to excellent views over the vineyard of Montmartre. You can finish with a drink in the enchanting café in the garden, immortalized by a number of the artists like in Renoir’s The Swing.
Most Romantic Date Night & Secret Café
Did you know that Montmartre has one of the oldest still running cinemas? Tucked on a side street off rue des Abbesses, Le Cinéma Studio 28 was opened in 1928 as the first avant garde movie house in Paris. It had a few exciting events in its early years like the first screenings of Luis Brunel’s “The Golden Age”, which, after two screenings a fervent debate broke out in the room and the movie was banned! Today the small cinema features a mainly art house and award-winning lineup and has a hidden courtyard café where you can enjoy a drink with your chéri/e before, after or even without attending a screening–but it would be a shame to miss out on the full experience! And you can have an even cooler experience by attending one of the Lost in Frenchlation events which take place once a month at the cinema. This great organization screens French films with English subtitles a few times a month and at a few different cinemas. There is often an intro by the director or someone connected to the film and a social drink beforehand so it’s a nice way to view French movies and perhaps meet some new people (or … love interests?).
Most Romantic Eclectic Venue(s)
While Montmartre is lovely and very romantic, there are some other areas of the 18th that give you a better taste for the real life in this arrondissement which is much more than La Butte. One area that could be the perfect date idea for offbeat romantics is the check out the revitalized stretch of the former Petite Ceinture. The tracks of this now defunct rail line that went around the city has been rehabilitated in some areas of the city, like the nice stretch I talk about in the guide to the 15th arrondissement. Here in the 18th the tracks have been partially refurbished and can be enjoyed in a few places, so you could make a fun outing by visiting them all. Start with a drink at La Recyclerie, a cool eco-responsible bar and restaurant in a former station and down by the tracks of the train line. Then a little bit west along the tracks is les Jardins du Ruisseau, a community garden which is open to the public and hosts fun events. Finally you can amble a couple of blocks further along and you’ll come to Le Hasard Ludique, another alternative bar/restaurant outdoor with a long line funky seating next to the old tracks and old station building where workshop and concerts are held. The restaurant’s modern food is prepared refugee chefs, just one element of their environmental and social initiatives.
Most Romantic Restaurant
Although it’s had a few recently new restaurants over the past few years, the 18th isn’t particularly known for having the best restaurants in Paris, let alone romantic ones. However, a wonderfully seductive ambiance is paired with excellent food at Le Sourire de Saigon. A favorite of residents of the Caulaincourt area of the 18th (and of some discreet celebrities who live in the vicinity), the dimly lit restaurant serves excellent quality, refined Vietnamese food, probably some of the best in town. The service is always very professional and they have some more secluded tables for two. If your sweetheart is a vegetarian, you can both be pleased with your meal thanks to their notable veggie items. If you were hoping for a French option in the district, you can great contemporary cuisine in the smart neo-bistrot near Abbesses Seb’On or the second floor of the Brasserie Barbès is romantic at night, plus their menu has something to please all palates (read more in this article it’s included in).
Most Romantic Bar
On the contrary to its lack of romantic restaurants, the 18th does have a few special romantic bars… and thus it’s tricky to pick just one. If you really want to wow someone then nothing beats the view from rooftop of La Terrass. A chic Art Deco era hotel on the edge of Montmartre, the rooftop bar is open to non guests (as is the restaurant) which has a soaring view over the city all the way from the east end to western La Defense. Of course this means also the Eiffel Tower. If you can arrive on the slight early side of apéro (and especially during the week), you have good chances on landing a table with a view. There are also some cozy seats towards the back of the terrace. If you don’t get a sit, you could always content yourself with the view of the back of the Moulin Rouge which you can have from its cool Bar à Bulles, a few minutes walk from La Terrass.
Most Romantic Place with it All
So, this is a collection of romantic places after all, so I’ve chosen the Place Dalida as the place with it all, as it brings together all the very romantic sites that surround it. Firstly, the tiny square itself has one of the most beautiful views in the whole city, looking up rue de l’Abreuvoir towards Sacré-Coeur. Then behind it is one of my favorite romantic places in all of Paris, the Allée des Brouillards, a gushingly charming pedestrian lane that faces the old “chateau” of the same name. The late 18th century aristocratic country home has various links to the artists of Montmartre and it even inspired the 1932 novel “Le Château des Brouillards” by Roland Dorgelès. Lastly, there is a lovely set of stairs there that link the square down to Rue Girardon. I like to think that all of these places are even more terribly romantic at night, when there are few people and extra magic from the lowly lit streets… ideal for a romancing!
Want to Stay in the 18th?
Montmartre is not only a charming place to stay in Paris, there are also some great local parts of the neighborhood making an excellent district to stay in for a romantic getaway (think of all those romantic strolls you can take after dark when most of the other tourists go home!). If you’re looking for an apartment rental in Montmartre then reach out to PerfectlyParis, an excellent agency specialized in the area! Not only does its friendly owner Gail know the district inside and out, their places all have their unique charms… and they even have one overlooking Place du Tertre, so you can enjoy the square without the crowds! More info and contact via their website here.
Happy romancing in the 18th district! This 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
- 11th Arrondissement
- 12th Arrondissement
- 13th Arrondissement
- 14th Arrondissement
- 15th Arrondissement
- 16th Arrondissement
- 17th Arrondissement