With its uber posh shops and sleepy streets filled with offices, the 8th arrondissement might not initially come across as romantic, however, the large district is actually filled with some of the best romantic places in all of Paris, from gorgeous museums to intriguing historic sites and from jaw-dropping viewpoints to enchanting secret spots. Skip the Champs-Élysées and go in search of the more seductive side of the 8th with this mini-guide!
Most Romantic Historic Building
Okay, now I might have just said skip the Champs-Élysées, but there is one reason to stop this world famous (touristy) avenue if you’re in the area… and that’s to see the Hôtel de la Païva. Located at # 25, near the Rond-Point with Ave Montaigne and F.D. Roosevelt, this alluring private mansion was built between 1856 and 1866 for Esther Lachmann, better known as the courtesan La Païva. Rising from the Moscow ghetto, the seductive Pole broke from her modest origins by first marrying a Portuguese marchess then a Prussian count (not bad!), which filled her coffers enough to build this elaborate hotel particulier right on the city’s then fanciest street. She held sumptuous parties at her incredible residence, that is, when she wasn’t having milk or champagne baths in her two luxurious bathtubs, one made of a block of yellow onyx and the other of silver with a special tap for alternative liquids. Since 1904 it has been the Travelers Club of Paris, a private gentleman’s club, that also has a stylish café/restaurant, Bistrot 25. You can grab an overpriced drink on its nice terrace and gaze up at the mansion or visit the interior on twice monthly guided tours (available here at a discount and only in French).
Most Romantic Quirky Hidden Spot
For a little adventure through the streets between the Madeleine and the Gare Saint Lazare, track down the hidden and mysterious Expiatory Chapel. The land around this small tree-lined square used to contain the Madeleine cemetery. It was here where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were initially buried after their dramatic guillotining in 1793 in nearby Place de la Concorde. After the permanent defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, their bodies were moved to the Cathedral of Saint Denis (where most French royals are buried). The cemetery was replaced by the Expiatory Chapel, a homage to the tragic royal couple completed in 1826 and funded by their daughter, Marie-Therèse and the next king, Louis XVIII. In the crypt there’s a black and white marble altar located above the spot where the regal remains were found. The chapel can be visited most weekends, however, the little park decked out in cozy benches, is open daily. Although it’s somewhat macabre, it makes for an offbeat romantic place to visit.
Most Romantic Museum
There are a number of fabulous smaller museums in the 8th arrondissement, making it hard to choose just one, however, Musée Jacquemart-André is not only in a stunning building in addition to housing a splendid collection, it also illustrations a couple’s love-story and their mutual love of collecting art. Much of the mid-19th century development of new Paris was taking place in the west of the city and the area around new Park Monceau was becoming a highly coveted district for the well-to-do. It is thus not surprising that banker Edouard André bought a plot of land here to build his flamboyant mansion. He and his future Nelie Jacquemart would dedicated the rest of their lives to filling its exquisite rooms with one of the world’s most important private art collections, featuring the likes of Botticelli, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Fragonard and Canaletto. Their spectacular home and collection is now public and is also home to fabulous temporary exhibits as well as an elegant café with a très romantique courtyard, another reason it’s my top museum pick!
Most Romantic Garden
Although I’ve referred to it in other articles, there really isn’t a more romantic garden in the 8th district than the Parc Monceau. It’s true, it can get busy on the weekend, nonetheless, there are always secret pockets to stow away in and the charms of this historic park are abound in any season. Built in the 18th century as a bucolic greenspace to serve the rising aristocratic population of the district, it’s still a much loved park of the Right Bank. Surrounded by refined city mansions, the gorgeous park has a pond bordered by faux Roman ruins, a scattering of statues, beds of dainty flowers, shady benches and sloping lawns which are ideal for lovers to stretch out on on balmy days.
Most Romantic View
Call me a sap, but the glitzy Pont Alexandre III is truly breathtaking and is one of the most romantic places in all of Paris thanks to its lavish decoration and its prominent location on a curve in the Seine which showcases one of the best views in the whole city. Built in 1900 to connect the two sectors of the World’s Fair, the fairgrounds aound the Petit and Grand Palais to those in front of Les Invalides and was named in honor of the Russian Tsar. The elaborate bridge is flanked on either end by four huge socles holding the statues of Fames (the Roman Goddess of Starvation) restraining Pegasus and is playfully dotted with a collection of water nymphs, cattails, frollicking fish and other symbolism. During the day you might come across a photo shot or three, but it’s much less visited, and much prettier, at night when its unique Belle Epoque lamp posts are ablaze and the dome of the Invalides and the Eiffel Tower are shining in the distance. Simple Magically.
Most Romantic Café
Inside the bijoux of a building of Le Petit Palais, the City of Paris art museum, is one of the city’s most charming cafés. The museum itself is made up of an eclectic collection of art from Roman busts to Impressionist landscapes. So you can first tour collection (its free! a needed savings for all the other spending you’d have to do in the area), or slip directly into its circular courtyard where you’ll find Le Jardin du Petit Palais. The café’s highlight is its seating facing verdant courtyard, a discreet haven where you can have a light lunch or delectacle teatime in sublime tranquility.
Most Romantic Restaurant
The 8th district has an extremely high quantity of upscale and Michelin-starred restaurants, however, not everyone can afford the dinner bill at places like Laserre or Pierre Gagnaire. If it’s romantic setting you’re after, without entirely breaking the bank, then consider booking a table at the Maison Blanche. Similar to my choice of Les Ombres in my 7th Arrondissement guide, I’ve selected this restaurant more for its view than its food, although you will certainly enjoy an excellent meal here with incredible views of the Eiffel at this stylish venue perched on the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on chic Avenue Montaigne. If you can come for lunch they have a more reasonable menu of two courses 49 € and three 59 €, whereas the gourmet dinner menu is 72 € (still much cheaper than at a starred restaurant). Dessert could also be in the form of an engagement ring — if you’re looking for a special place to propose!
Most Romantic Bar
The bars in this neighborhood tend to be on the snooty and cher side (don’t forget the much of the area makes up what is called Paris’ Golden Triangle…), so since you’re going to have to pay an arm and a leg to get a drink in the area, it might as well be at a cool place. Make a challenge of your romantic evening by trying to get into one of the city’s latest speakeasy style bars, however, this one has a catch: you can only access it if you solve a riddle or obtain a password, updated on its website or social media channels. I’ve at least give you the first clue by revealing where it is, under the somewhat going beyond its prime Buddha Bar. If you can manage to solve the enigma, you’ll find the sultry and secretive setting of Le Secret 8, with an ultra chic decor, spectacularly presented cocktails and elite clientele. If you don’t manage to get in, you can also find a luscious ambiance at Le Blaine Bar, found just of the Champs-Elysées.
Most Romantic Sexy Place
Oh la la! I couldn’t resist being just a tad naughty… since Paris’ raciest cabaret is found in the stuffy 8th district! Founded in 1951, Le Crazy Horse is one of Paris’ most mythical cabarets, small in scale but richly decorated in red velour, lacquered wood and mirrors. It differs from the Moulin Rouge or the Lido insomuch as it skips the Vegas-like “show” part and focuses exclusively acts performed by dancers… with minimalist outfits. This is all done in a very classy, sexy way. It is by no means a tacky strip show and when I attended a number of years ago (an episode depicted in my first book Je T’Aime, Me Neither), I’d actually been expecting it even more risqué. Over the years its stage has featured star cabaret performers like Dita Von Teese and Arielle Dombasle as well as singers like Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera. Your tickets come with a bottle of champagne, which adds to the show’s fuel to heat up a very sexy Paris date night indeed!
Most Romantic Place with it All
The 8th arrondissement officially begins at the western edge of the Tuileries Garden, so it encompasses all of the glorious Place de la Concorde, my chosen “place with it all” of this district. What’s not to love? Even on the gloomiest of days, the sight of the square makes me stop in awe. The largest square in Paris, it was completed in 1772 and named after King Louis XV, little could he have imagined that 21 years later his square would be the site of his son’s execution (opps!).
Over the course of the 19th century these gruesome details where slid under the square’s carpet with the 1836 arrival of the precious Egyptian Obelisk from Luxor and later on the two glamorous Second Empire fountains honoring France’s seas and rivers, in connection to the Ministry of the Marine found within the attractive columned building on the northeast side. The attractive private mansion across rue Royale is the luxurious Hotel de Crillon and when standing in the center of the square (well not in the middle of traffic), you can admire the Madeleine Church to the north, the Assemblée Générale to the south, the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe to the west and, if you stand on the northeast corner, you can get my favorite view, including the Eiffel Tower, captured in the above photo. Few places in Paris have so much grandeur in one place and can create such an enchanting and romantic moment!
I hope you have fun romancing in the 8th! As usual you can use the Google Map below to find these places and get more romantic inspiration in the other articles in the series:
- 1st Arrondissement
- 2nd Arrondissement
- 3rd Arrondissement
- 4th Arrondissement
- 5th Arrondissement
- 6th Arrondissement
- 7th Arrondissement
You can also find many more ideas for offbeat romantic outing ideas in our Paris date ideas section here.