When most people think of the 19th arrondissement, decaying 1960/70s tower blocks come to mind, however, this northeastern district has a lot more to offer. Home to the extension of the Canal St Martin, the Canal de l’Ourcq, and one of the prettiest parks in Paris, Le Buttes-Chaumont, as well as a number of other secret charms, the 19ème is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and experience unique, offbeat Paris (and don’t worry, totally safe!). Discover the top romantic places in Paris’ 19th arrondissement below!
Most Romantic Street(s)
In virtually all of the peripheral districts of Paris there are charming village-like clusters of small 2-3 story houses and the 19th district has one of the loveliest of these. Found just beyond the northeast corner of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, “le Quartier de la Mouzaïa” consists of maze of cobbled “villa streets” boxed in by the larger rues de Mouzaïa, du Général-Brunet and Miguel-Hidalgo. If you’re looking on a map, scout out villas d’Alsace, Eugène-Leblanc, Émile-Loubet, de Bellevue, des Lilas, Sadi-Carnot and Félix-Faure. The flower and vine laden houses were built at the end of the 19th century overtop the defunct gypsum quarry, called the America Quarry, which existed here from the Middle Ages until 1860s/70s. Exuding a countryside feel, the area is the ideal place to carry on your romantic stroll in the park. You can see more information and photos on this area in this great article by French Girl in Seattle, Takes France.
Most Romantic Secret Street(s)
La Mouzaïa is super charming, however, it’s far from a secret these days. Instead, if you’d like to explore similar but lesser known place in the area, than seek out la Butte Bergeyre. La butte what? Yes… you probably didn’t know that there was a mini Montmartre in the 19th—and you can even see the more famous “butte” from this one! Developed in the mid 1920s on the site of a former amusement park called Les Folies Buttes, the very hidden cluster of tiny streets is found 100 meters up, reachable via various sets of stairs and a road… but stairs are much more fun, right? Try the ones on rue Michel Tagrine and then you’ll be very close to the area’s vineyard—yes, you read me correctly! Just like la Butte de Montmartre, there are vines clinging to the slopes of this hill which form le Clos des Chaufourniers. There’s an a romantic bench there were you can sit with your chéri/e and gaze out at the fabulous view of Montmartre. Next to this is a community garden which is sometimes open or you can meander around the quiet streets lined with cottage-esque houses, one completely enrobed in vines! It’s definitely a surprising and wonderfully romantic place!
Most Romantic Hidden Place
Completely hidden on the south side of the park is one of the most curious places in Paris. You might feel a little trepidatious arriving at number 93 rue de Crimée, yet be brave and venture down the little lane, then up the slope towards the left. Carry on past a small building marked “Librarie” and at the top of the set of stairs is the whimsical Saint Sergius Orthodox Church and Theological Institute. Originally a German Lutheran church which was abandoned after WWI, it was converted into a theological center and church in 1925. The gate is usually open during the day and you can wander around the deserted grounds freely. There are even some romantic benches, the ambiance couldn’t be more enchanting! If you come on Sunday mornings you can see the interior during service.
Most Romantic Place to Stroll
There are unquestionably two big highlights of the 19ème: the grand finale place at the end of the article and le Canal de l’Ourcq—both reasons in themselves to make a visit to the district. The “extension” of the more famous Canal St Martin, the Canal de l’Ourcq is actually much longer, starting at the Basin de la Villette and journeying 108 kilometers through the north part of Ile-de-France. For our purposes I’ll twin up the Basin de la Villette and the canal because they seem like the same place, so you could start your stroll at Stalingrad and work your way up northeast. The canal is home to cool cafés, bars, street art and an outpost of Paris Plages in summer when there’s even a pool in the canal. Several of the bars lend out pétanque balls so you can make the most of the shady alleys alongside the water. You can also simply bring your own picnic and settle down next to the water’s edge, otherwise you can grab a bite or drink at the following two spots on our list.
Most Romantic Café
Along the canal is one of the most whimsical cafés in Paris: le Pavillon des Canaux. Located in a former lock-keeper’s home at the edge of the Basin de la Villette and the Canal de l’Ourcq, it has kept this spirit in a cool modern way. Each room of the interior is like those found in a “normal” house. The ground floor features two funky living rooms with another one found on the 2nd floor, here you’ll also find a retro outfitted kitchen, a romantic bedroom and a “bathroom” with an old fashioned bathtub with seating for two! On sunny days the terrace overlooking the canal is also very inviting. It’s a surprising place, perfect for lunch, afternoon coffee or apero.
Most Unique Date Idea
If you’re looking to surprise your date with an original outing, than pack a little picnic and book one of the self-drive boats of the Marin d’Eau Douce. The little marina is found on the west side of the Bassin de la Villette and has a fleet of small boats that do not require a license to drive (captain hats and other boating accessories can be picked up from their treasure chest before boarding). It’s a fun and different way to visit the canal and spend some time with your beau or belle!
Most Eclectic Date Place
The 19th arrondissement is home to one of Paris’ coolest art spaces: Le CENTQUATRE. A former municipal undertaker’s building built in the 1870s, the impressive complex, which is the same size as Place de la République, was restored and reopened as an art centre in 2008. The sprawling space puts on temporary art exhibits, concerts, film screenings, talks and community events from markets to dancing and from yoga to recruitment fairs. The gorgeous building is enough to make your sweetheart swoon, but there are also two cafés… including one hidden one, le Café Caché. Make it a challenge to find it together!
Most Romantic Bar/Restaurant
The square at the mouth of the Basin de la Villette has become gradually hipper thanks to the revamping of La Rotonde Stalingrad. The historic building now features La Trattoria by Gustu, a modern take on Corsican gastronomy by Christophe Poligani. Harking from the Île de Beauté, Christophe has gathered an excellent repertoire of the best producers of the island. Their high quality wares go into his menu of delicious small plates, pasta dishes and excellent pizzas. The restaurant is located under the soaring dome of the building which creates a lovely romantic ambiance, along with a relaxed yet stylish contemporary decor. There is also a bar-area in the atrium serving Corsican spritzes and other cocktails, plus every other weekend the venue becomes a mini-club so if the mood is right, you can carry on your date on the dance floor. If you’d rather be outdoors, not a problem, there’s a large chill terrace which has some street food stands and a small range of Gustu’s pizzas available for only 10 euros.
Most Romantic Bar
I looked far and wide, but I couldn’t find a bar more romantic than le Pavillon Puebla, so I’ve set it apart from the below category. Many people don’t know that there is a second bar in the Buttes-Chaumont Park other than Rosa Bonheur. While Rosa is a great bar, this one is definitely more romantic. Created by the team of Le Perchoir, the bar sits on a small knoll amidst tall trees. It has two nice terraces, both of which have some wonderful, intimate seats which seem to have been made for couples. Be sure to come early if you’d like to score one of those, but even if you don’t, the venue has plenty of ambiance and is the perfect place to end your stroll in the park.
Most Romantic Place with It All
Speaking of the park… you may have been wondering where it is! It would impossible to have a list of romantic places in the 19th arrondissement without including the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and for me it’s the most romantic spot in the whole district! Not merely a beautiful park, it has several cafés/bars and an abundance of romantic spots within it, making it an all-in-one date spot. Much more relaxed than many of Paris’ other parks, it is also set apart from the others thanks to its unique location on a mound. The park was created in the mid 1860s by Napoléon III’s garden designer Jean-Charles Alphand (also behind le Square des Batignolles included in the guide to the 17th district). The verdant transformation was a great improvement over the area’s somewhat gruesome history as from the 13th century until the Revolution the site was where bodies were displayed after they were hung after which time it was used as a dump. Part of the terrain was also part of the stone quarry mentioned above, hence it’s sloping shape and name, “chauve mont” or bald mountain. Today the lovely green space has expansive lawns (which you are actually allowed to sit on unlike those of some other Parisian parks), alleys lined by mature trees, an artificial lake and a hidden grotto cavern. Lovers should make the trek up to the Temple de la Sybille, which has a soaring view over the north of Paris, including Sacré Coeur. When you’re ready for a break, there’s the aforementioned Pavillon Puebla as well as the charming Pavillon du Lac or else Rosa Bonheur if you’re looking for a more festive ambiance. The park is also a fabulous complement to exploring a number of the other places listed above!
Happy romancing in the 19th district! This google map can help you track down these places. Then you can continue 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.
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You can also carry on your explorations of romantic paris with our other Romantic Paris top 10 mini-guides!
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