While the 10th arrondissement might be one of today’s coolest districts in Paris, it wouldn’t normally be considered its most “traditionally” romantic. The district is primarily made up of two rather distinct sections: the Faubourg Poissonnière and the surroundings of the Canal Saint Martin, both of which used to be (and mostly are) rather working class and in some parts somewhat sketchy. The 21st-century has given new life to the arrondissement which is now dotted with top notch coffee shops, cool bars and excellent restaurants. Discover these, as well as the charms and secrets places of the district, in our mini-guide below!
Most Romantic Historic Site(s)
Crowning the Place de l’Etoile at the end of the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe might be one of the most famous sites of Paris, however, it is not the only grand archway in the city. Two of Paris’ four archways are found in the 10th district: la Porte Saint-Denis and la Porte Saint-Martin. Located a block apart atop the métro Strasbourg Saint Denis, they were commissioned by Louis XIV in 1672 and 1764 respectively, making them over a hundred year’s older than Napoleon’s two arches (the other one stands at the beginning of the Tuileries Garden). Erected to commemorate “Louis le Grand’s” military victories against the Spanish, they replaced two toll gates that sat here at the edge of the old city wall. What’s so romantic about them? Well, the Porte Saint-Denis is pretty beautiful and acts as the start of a stroll up the burgeoning hipster rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, while the Porte Saint-Martin is less showy, it’s located right next to a lovely little square flanked by the gorgeous Theatre de la Renaissance. You can grab a drink at the café there and gaze up at both sites.
Most Romantic Street
This sector of the 10th beyond the gates described above mostly developed in the mid 17th to early 19th centuries as a suburb of Paris called “la Nouvelle France.” It has a maze of mostly smaller streets, including many covered or open-air passageways, my favorite being the Passage des Petites-Ecuries. Once home to royal stables, today the cobbled pedestrian street has an array of bars, restaurants, which create a lively ambiance at night, whilst during the day its tranquil and romantic. Either time of day, it makes for a nice detour if you’re cruising down rue du Faubourg Saint Denis.
Most Romantic Building
Aside from a few private mansions closed to the public, the of the visible architecture of the 10th is quite simple, nevertheless, tucked away on a small side street is one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings of the city. The alluring structure is found at 14 rue d’Abbeville, just down from the corner of rue du Faubourg Poissonnière and rue Maubeuge. Designed by Alexandre and Edouard Autant in 1901, it’s more noteworthy for its stunning ceramic work done by Alexandre Bigot, the artist behind the decorative work of the well known Lavirotte building on Avenue Rapp (including in our guide of the 7ème Arrondissement) and on the Saint Jean church in Place des Abbesses. Here you can find similar playful motifs of flowers, leaves, chimera figures and, perfect for lovers, stems in the form of hearts… There’s also a gorgeous building just next door and they are just a block up from the next destination.
Most Romantic Square
The 10th arrondissement doesn’t have too many parks, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the lovely Square Aristide-Cavaillé-Coll. Sandwiched between the imposing Saint-Vincent-de-Paul church and the nice Place Franz-Liszt, all built together in the 1820s as the centre of the developing “Nouvelle France” neighborhood. Classified as a National Monument of France, the park is particularly sublime in spring, decked out in cherry blossoms. I did once see some homeless people hanging out on the steps, however, it’s still just beautiful to look at or possibly best enjoyed over apéro on the terrace of one of the cafes around the square like la Maison Bleue, a nice café/restaurant on the corner with rue d’Abbeville, leading up to the aforementioned building. Or, across from the Maison Bleue is a discrete alley leading up to a set of stairs… perfect place to steal a kiss!
Most Romantic Offbeat Historic Site
Sitting proudly at the end of Boulevard de Magenta, on the border with the 18th district, is Paris’ most unique historic cinema: Le Louxor. Inaugurated in 1921, it features an Art Deco neo-Egyptian façade decorated with colorful mosaics with floral/exotic animal motifs. At just over 1,000 seats, for a long time it was one of the largest cinemas in the city. In the late 1980s it was converted into the biggest gay nightclub in Paris before being abandoned for around a decade. Luckily, it was bought by the city of Paris in 2003, who carried out vast renovations for the theatre to reopen in 2013. It’s simply very beautiful to look at, and if you don’t want to see a film, you can also grab a drink and/or assiette de fromage/charcuterie at its bar, also home to a fantastic terrace looking up towards Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur (it’s open Monday-Friday 6-11:15 pm and an earlier opening at 4pm on Saturday and at 12:30 on Sunday).
Most Romantic Café
In the heart of the hipster section of upper rue du Faubourg Saint Denis you’ll find one of the city’s most charming contemporary coffee shops: Peonies. As its name eludes to, this café doesn’t only sell coffee, it doubles as a flower shop. So after have an excellent latte and irresistible piece of lemon loaf or a cookie, you can surprise your date with a original bouquet of flowers! If it’s your first date, you could also try Ten Belles, found on the other side of the canal and included in our Best Paris Coffee Shops for Dates article.
Most Romantic Restaurant
The 1oth has a high concentration of high quality contemporary restaurants, and then there are all the restaurants in little India which occupies a pocket of the north of the 10th (a fun place to explore nonetheless!)… yet few of these could be described as romantic. There are several historic restaurants of the area, like beautiful art nouveau Boullion Julien, but these just simply don’t cut it when it comes to the quality of the food, leading me to choose a venue with the right atmosphere for a romantic tête-à-tête, over the best cuisine. Located in a building dating back to 1854, the Hotel Providence was the brainchild of trendy-setter Pierre Moussié (behind Chez Jeannette, key to the gentrification of rue du Faubourg Saint Denis) who tasked architect and interior designer Philippe Medioni with created a stylish boutique hotel in the spirit of the 19th century romantic era. This ambiance is central to the hotel’s restaurant, which feels straight out of a George Sands novel. Seductive dark wood, floral wallpaper, a fireplace and an array of antiques complete the sultry setting where you can enjoy a attractively presented meal, albeit a touch on the pricier side.
Most Romantic Bar
Like for the restaurant above, I really hemmed and hawed about this category. There are some great bars in the 10th, again, few could really be classified as romantic. A few of my favorite bars in the area are listed below, for amazing cocktail’s there are Le Syndic, Copper Bay and Gravity Bar, again, not romantic per say. The Café A has a lovely setting but a rather cold decor. If you want to surprise a date who doesn’t know the area well, then take him/her to the eclectic Comptoir Général. Perfectly evoking the spirit of the 10th, with its funky ethnic decor, its mismatch furniture, jungle of plants and thrift shop, it’s the area’s quirkiest bars. Plus it has intimate seating areas and reasonable prices. My only warning is to come early… it can get busy!
Most Romantic Place with it All
Some of you might be thinking, what… no mention of the Canal Saint-Martin? Mais bien-sur! It would be impossible to talk about the romantic places in the 10th arrondissement without including this picturesque site. Constructed by Napoléon in 1802 to supply fresh water to the city, the 4.6 km (2.86 mi) long canal had fallen into a terrible state and was almost completely filled in (like its southern section) in the 1960s. Since the early 2000s and its appearance in the movie Amélie, the canal has been experiencing a trendy revival and is lined with cool shops, cafés and restaurants, a contagion which has crept throughout many streets of the area. It’s getting slightly overrated, nevertheless, it’s still a nice place to stroll, spot its great street art, stop for a drink at the historic Hotel du Nord, the hip Chez Prune or the Comptoir Général mentioned above or order to go a offbeat pizza at Pink Flamingo Pizza, creative veggie bowl at Ima Cantine or some killer tacos at El Nopal and sit at the water’s edge, preferable in the late afternoon, early evening, as the atmosphere can get a little rowdy later on. If you’re looking for an alternative way to see the canal, hop aboard a Canauxrama cruise of the canal!
Happy romancing in the 10th everyone! As per usual, below is a Google Map to help you find these places (and a few others) and you can carry on your romantic wanderings in 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
And you can tons more ideas for offbeat romantic outing ideas in our Paris date ideas section here.