Although it doesn’t feature the typical quintessential characteristics found in the historic core of the city, the 9th district is actually one of the most romantic places in Paris… as long as you know where to look! The heart of intellectual Paris in the early 19th-century Romantic era, when it hosted the likes of Georges Sand and Chopin, parts of the 9th district of Paris fell into seedy decline over the 20th century with the proliferation of brothels and then escort girl bars. The 21st century is giving the district a hip makeover over and is now one of the city’s coolest districts. Get ready for some great, both historic and contemporary, romancing via the wonderfully seductive places below!
Most Romantic Historic Site
Few places in Paris can match the magic of the Opera Garnier. Designed to be the centre of the “new” Paris of the mid-19th century Second Empire, the glamorous building marvels from inside and out. The facade is decked out in statues extolling the arts and monumental columns, while the interior shines with gilded mirrors, sparkling chandeliers and the awe-inspiring hall with its sensual red seating and amazing ceiling painted by Chagall. It’s so romantic… I’ve even included it in this article for Every Day Parisian about the where to propose in Paris. Attending a performance is of course delightful, however, you can visit the interior on self guided tours (it’s better to check the schedule on the website to make sure a rehearsal isn’t taking place so you can see the auditorium)… or you can also admire it for free from the next spot…
Most Romantic View
One of the absolutely best views of Paris is in the 9th, and you can admire it without paying a cent, all you need to do is make your way to the terrace of Les Galeries Lafayette. The historic department store, with its stunning Art Nouveau stained-glass dome, is a wonder in itself. Be sure to gaze up at it before traveling up to the top floor, through its Paris-themed souvenir shop and up to the rooftop viewing deck. Here you’ll be able to take in a 360-degree panorama of the city with a close up view of the Opera Garnier and the Opera district as well as views onto Montmartre, Sacré Coeur and the city’s most famous landmark: La Tour Eiffel! There’s also a café if you’d like to linger over un petit café or glass of champagne.
Most Romantic “Street(s)”
I’m going to cheat slightly and include two here, but since one leads into the other, I’ll let myself away with it. The Opera district is known for its unique passageways, and two of the loveliest ones are found in the 9th: the Passage Jouffroy and the Passage Verdeau. Built in 1836, Passage Jouffroy has the typical attractive iron and glass roof and marble flooring as many of the other passageways. However, it does set itself apart from some of its neighboring passages due to the excellent variety of alluring boutiques which line it including a wonderful handcrafted umbrella and cane shop, a dusty bookshop with vintage books and postcards, eclectic souvenir shops and the romantic tea room Le Valentin. Crossing over rue De La Grange Batelière you’ll enter the Passage Verdeau. Constructed a decade later in 1847, here you’ll find more quirky shops which take you on a sort of Parisian time travel. It ends on rue du Faubourg Montmartre, which you can take up to the next spots of the list (you might also like to pop in for a sinful treat at the original branch of À la Mère de Famille chocolate shop found at #35).
Most Romantic Garden
This article gave me quite a good amount of strive, as there were many places I wanted to include, but had to pick the very best matched for the theme. I’d debated on including Place Saint-Georges, which is terribly charming thanks to its small statue adorned round-about, typical Parisian café, cool métro entrances and two beautiful 19th century mansions (including the original Hotel de la Paiva which I discuss in my guide on the 8th district), however, the most romantic thing about it is hidden behind it… Tucked away behind the Hotel de Dosne-Thiers (where the former French President Adolphe Thiers lived) is a little bijoux of a garden, the Square Alex-Biscarre. Previously the private gardens of the aforementioned private mansion, the small green space is the ideal place for a little lover’s snuggle, well, as long as you come before school’s out and it’s overtaking by screaming kids (which is pretty much the case for any garden in Paris).
Most Romantic Museum
There are two cool museums in the 9th district, and I wanted to include both, however the Musée Gustave Moreau takes the prize for best museum… and with good reason. The former home and art studio of the eccentric symbolist artist is set in a gorgeous private mansion and the beautiful space feels like the artist might have passed away just yesterday. You can tour his living quarters, then the real highlight is his studio area, spread over two floors with soaring ceilings. Part of the fun is checking out what is in the secret drawers and cabinets which you can peer into, but his artwork, populated with nymphs and mythological gods and goddesses is also very sensual, the perfect prelude for more romancing in the area or… elsewhere.
Most Romantic Café
So I’ve sneakily included the second small museum of the area into the article under this different category. It would be hard to talk about the “romantic 9th arrondissement” without including the Musée de la Vie Romantique. Built in 1830 as the home of Dutch painter Ary Scheffer, the house became a central meeting point for the artistic crowd which was lived primarily in this area in the first half of the 19th century, during what is called the “romantic era”, a poetic style of the arts of which the likes of Scheffer, Georges Sand, Chopin, Eugène Delacroix, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Franz Liszt took part in. The small museum is well worth visiting, but it’s café, nestled within the greenery and flowers of the garden, is supremely magical and the perfect place for a first date or romantic pitstop in the area. And if you haven’t visited the museum, it’s also fascinating… and free!
Most Romantic Restaurant
There are actually many great restaurants in this district that have a romantic ambiance and as much as I find Pink Mamma extremely romantic, since they don’t take reservations (although you can wait in their cool secret bar in the basement while you wait), I decide to put in a less hype venue. Found on a small side street not far from the border of the 10th arrondissement, pretty Petrelle offers the ideal setting for a romantic tête-à-tête. It features a whimsical decor of antiques, golden chandeliers, mismatched lamps and offbeat curiosities, an enchanting atmosphere accentuated by romantic low lighting. The menu is made up of mid-range season dishes which are attractively presented. Read more in this review on HiP Paris.
Most Romantic Seductive Bar
Remember I made reference at the beginning of the area to brothels… we one former one has since been converted into the city’s most sumptuously romantic bar (and hotel). Situated in a former 19th century maison close, or brothel, the Maison Souquet is a boutique hotel, relooked by Jacques Garcia, of the Hôtel Costes. Garcia strove to recreate a lavish boudoir of the Belle Epoque. The rooms are truly superb, however, the ground floor also features an opulent bar decked out in plush red velour seating, 19th century artwork, antiques and the most charming little courtyard. Stop in here at the end of your wanderings in the area… or carry on for more bars in the below listing!
Most Romantic Place with it All
I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here for this category… Since the 9th district doesn’t have any massive show-stoppers, besides the Opera which is actually surrounded by a bit of a deadzone. I contemplated including la Rue des Martyrs, which is a fabulous local street… although not particular romantic. So I’ve decided to go with Rue Frochot… rue what? Well, until the early 2010s nobody would have ever paid much attention to this street, however, today it has the highest concentration of cool bars in one place. You can read more about the evolution of the area in this article I wrote for Playboy.com, but in essence, the early “new” bars which popped up on this street, namely Glass and Dirty Dick, where instrumental in cleaning up Pigalle and getting rid of the escort and peep show bars. Today, you can find the perfect romantic bar that suits your style (or why not try out a few), from the sultry New Orleans’ prohibition era Lulu White to the sexy Lipstick with a steal of a happy hour and a poll from its days as an girly bar, you can also find one in the oh-la-la small lounge on the back left of the ground floor bar of the trendy Hotel Le Pigalle.
If bar-hopping isn’t your cup of gin, then at the end of the street you can admire a gorgeous building on the corner with the avenue Frochot. The former private mansion was converted in a cabaret called “Le Shanghai” in 1920 and has a spectacular art deco stained glass wall inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai’s famous print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” It sits at the entrance to an alluring private street lined with glamorous houses which is normally closed to the public. Unless you succeed at befriending one of its residents, you’ll have to be content with peering through the gate. Art fans can take a mini detour a tiny bit down the street at this intersection, rue Victor Masse, to gaze up at #23, the first Paris resident of Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo (just one of the many artists who lived in the 9th… perhaps the topic of another article!. You can then carry on down rue Henri Monnier, lined with cool shops and restaurants, which leads to the lovely Place Gustave Toudouze, a great people-watching romantic place for a drink with your chéri/e!
If you would like to visit some of these places as well as learn more about the area’s history, book my tour The Sexy Side of Pigalle. More information on it here.
There were so many places I wanted to include in this edition, I might need to do a part two one day! As usual, our useful Google Map to help you find these places and see the rest in the series below!
Our Collection of Romantic Paris Guides
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You can also carry on your explorations of romantic paris with our other Romantic Paris top 10 mini-guides!
- 1st Arrondissement
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