When most people think of Paris, visions of the narrow streets and cafés of the Left Bank come to mind, and more precisely, those of the 6th arrondissement. The artistic and intellectual hub of the city at various times, the 6ème has both big name stars like Les Deux Magots and the Café de Flore, but also discrete contemporary cocktail bars, stylish restaurants and hidden places beckoning lovers. As with the other articles in my Romantic Paris series, I’ve scoured the neighborhood to bring you a collection of unique and magical places for a romantic discover of this incredibly Parisien quartier.
Most Romantic Street
Few places get as many awes from the new beholder as the exquisite Cour du Commerce St André. Running between rue Saint-André des Arts and Boulevard Saint Germain, the romantic cobbled lane has a small covered section on the north-end, an early version of the covered passageways around the Opera district. Beyond this is the legendary Procope, opened in 1686, it’s considered the oldest “café” in Paris and was popular with Enlightenment philosophers then Revolutionaries (visit the street to see some paintings of its most famous or infamous customers). Opposite from it, you can peer into the window (or stop in for some delicious hot chocolate) of Un Dimanche à Paris, whose back wall contains the remnants of watch tower of the late 12th century Philippe Auguste wall. There are more secrets to it, plus café terraces and shops which make it the ideal romantic detour in the area.
Most Romantic Square
The dense northern part of the 6th has few open spaces, however, the few it has are terribly romantic, like the tiny jewel Place Furstemberg (also spelt with an “n”). The square is actually part of a street of the same name, called after the cardinal Guillaume-Egon de Fürstenberg, who wanted a private access to his palace at the nearby Saint-Germain-des-Près Abbey. One of its charms lies in its hidden location, but it is also utterly charming with its large Paulownia trees and lamp post in the centre, pretty shops, and in the north-eastern corner, the former studio and now museum in honor of Romantic era painter Eugène Délacroix—how fitting for your “romantic” stroll!
Most Romantic Hidden Place
Another perfectly romantic secret spot in the neighborhood is the hidden Passage Dauphine. The pedestrian laneway dissects rue Dauphine and Mazarine and will certainly charm your unbeknownst sweetheart. Open in 1825, in the city’s boom of passageways, it differs from many of the other passages as it is wider in the center, and isn’t covered in glass. Today it’s an ideal place for a lovers’ break during your 6ème stroll, you can even stop in for a beverage and snack at the lovely tea salon, L’Heure Gourmande, to further absorb the passageway’s romantic vibes.
Most Romantic Garden
The 6th arrondissement doesn’t have too many green spaces, but it does have one of the city’s most beautiful large parks: the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens. Once the private gardens of Queen Marie de Medici’s palace, now the Senate, the sprawling park is a favorite of Left Bank residents. Unlike the Tuileries which can be packed, there are always quiet nooks in this gracious garden. Take a meander with your chéri/e down its shaded laneways, stop to admire some of its stoic sculptures from classical to modern (including a maquette of the Statue of Liberty near the western fence), gaze into the enchanting Medici Fountain, a renaissance “grotto” fountain located on the east side of the palace and then lounge around on a secluded bench or sunny reclined chairs.
Most Romantic Museum
I don’t always include a museum in these roundups… but there isn’t always the perfect romantic museum in every district. That’s definitely the case with this arrondissement and its magical Musée Zadkine. Located on the edge of the Luxembourg Gardens (making them a great combo), the museum occupies the former studio of the Russian-born artist Ossip Zadkine. Considered a cubist sculptor, a visit to his museum offers the chance to contemplate what the area was early to mid 20th century, when it was the buzzing artistic and literary hub of the city. In addition to the studio, there are works scattered through the garden, where you’ll also find a few benches for a cuddly break. Lastly… as one of the City of Paris museums, admission is free except during exhibits, so it also makes for an excellent budget date idea!
Most Romantic Café
The Saint Germain area is synonymous with cafés, however, many of its most famous ones cost an arm and a leg… plus are usually very busy and thus not ideal for romancing. Instead, surprise your amoureux by leading them into the Hôtel des Marronniers where you’ll find the most enchanting hidden garden café. Tucked away in the art gallery district of the area, it’s open to non-guests of the hotel and is one of the most exquisite—and little known—garden cafés in the whole city… you might even have it all to yourself! Another romantic coffee or apéro spot is the elegant Café Laurent, found in the Hotel d’Aubusson, they also have Jazz nights (thanks for the reminder about it, Julia!).
Most Romantic Bar
If it’s a romantic nightcap your after, then it’s hard to beat the amorous ambiance of the Prescription Cocktail Club. One of the only cool cocktail bars of the Left Bank, once you find your way inside, your date will be wooed by its chic décor of plush sofas, quirky antiques and designer wallpaper. Add in their inventive cocktails and low lighting and you’ve got the right perception for the perfect date.
Most Romantic Restaurant
A refined yet reserved facade along the Seine houses one of Paris’ oldest and most seductive restaurants: Lapérouse. Set in an attractive 17th-century townhouse, the building was first converted into a wine merchant in 1766 but is particularly noteworthy due to its private dining rooms where its wealthy patrons would wine and dine their mistresses… who in turn tested out the quality of their diamond studded gifts on the salons’ gilded mirrors. Neither extortionate nor cheap, their sexy red velour could be a good more economical option for a drink, or instead enjoy a contemporary swanky meal at the nearby Alcazar (though can get a little noisy on weekends), the dimly lit Hibou which also has a fireplace upstairs in winter or a laid-back friendly meal at the neighborhood Bistrot Ernest.
Most Romantic View
Ah ha! Although it spans the river, my chosen Most Romantic View for this article is officially in the 6th district. The breathtaking vistas offered from pedestrian Le Pont des Arts are some of the most swoon-worthy of the whole city. Extending over the Seine between the glowing dome of the Institut de France and the Louis-XIV section of the Louvre, the bridge (once covered in love-locks) showcases jaw-dropping views of Ile-de-la-Cité to the east and the Grand Palais and the Pont Alexander II to the right… oh and a twinkling Tour Eiffel if you drift to the northwest part of the bridge. Stunning both day and night, it’s a must for any lovers’ visit to Paris, but leave your love locks at home! Capture a romantic selfie instead 🙂
Most Romantic Place with it all
This was a tough one! I actually chose a different place and then changed my mind at the last minute… and I don’t think you’ll regret my choice when you visit it with your partner. While the district’s most famous square might be Place Saint Germain, with its historic cafés and fabulous church, I think the atmosphere is much more romantic at the lesser visited Place Saint Sulpice. Located not even five minutes south of its showy neighbor, this square wows, like the Pont des Arts, anytime of day.
The large square features a beautiful cascading fountain and is presided over by the Saint-Sulpice church, put on the map as the “site” of the obélisque and Rose Line described in the Da Vinci Code, the church actually holds something much more interesting, two large murals painted by the aforementioned artist Delacroix (find them on the chapels on the right). The Cafe de la Mairie is a nice alternative to the super cher cafés at Saint Germain and gives you the real feel of a classic Parisian café. If you would like a sweet treat to enjoy with your sweetheart, then you’ve got a branch of Patrick Roger chocolates in the north-eastern corner and Pierre Hermé for some divine macarons and pastries is found just up a little bit on rue Bonaparte. In the evening the maze of streets north of the square, around rue de Canettes and Princesse, are alive with bars and restaurants or you can simple enjoy the golden light cast on the church from the setting sun or romantic glow after dark.
Happy romancing in the sixth everyone! You can use the Google Map below to easily find these places and peruse other unique romantic places in Paris in the other articles in the series:
If you want to absorb more of the district, check out our article on best books on the Left Bank!
And there are lots more ideas for offbeat romantic outings in my Paris date ideas section here.