By Lily Heise
Paris is beautiful all year round, nevertheless, the city has some extra magic in the spring. Parisians are out on terraces basking in sunshine after months of grey skies and the city explodes in pink blossoms. Make the most of the season with your chéri/e on one of these outing ideas, perfect for springtime in Paris.
Coffee and Stroll around Ile-de-la-Cité
The general area of and around the Ile-de-la-Cité has some excellent blossom viewing opportunities. A good place to start is at Shakespeare & Company, where you can get a take-away coffee at their café and possibly catch some of the gorgeous blossoms on the tree in from of it (mid blossom season). The Square Jean XXIII, which borders the south and east sides of Notre Dame, has some amazing cherry blossoms which usually pop out later in the season (April). For Wisteria in April or May, track down the uber photogenic Au Vieux Paris, tucked away on a side street near the cathedral. Across the river, if you’re around in mid March you’ll likely catch the spectacular magnolias on the south side of Hotel de Ville. If you’re timing isn’t right for the blossoms, you can console yourself with an ice cream at Berthillon and carry on your walk on the sunny Parc Rives de Seine which now goes along the river from south of Bastille all the way to the Louvre.
An Afternoon In and Around Parc Monceau
Of the main parks in Paris, the Parc Monceau has the best and longest roll out of blossoms that usually extends from late winter through April. After your colorful stroll around the park, savor a cuddly moment on a sunny grassy knoll before taking in some culture at one of the three museums in the vicinity, all former private mansions and very romantic: the Nissim de Camondo, the Musée Cernuschi (the Asian Art Museum of the City of Paris, the permanent collection is free), Musée Jacquemart André with its elegant café.
Admire Monet’s Waterlilies and Soak Up Some Rays
There’s no better way to get you in a happy springtime mood than by gazing at the stunning flower paintings of Claude Monet, particularly his waterlily masterpieces hanging at the Orangerie Museum. Afterwards you can leisurely meander through the Tuileries, decked out in pretty spring flowers and much less busy at this time of year than in summer. Making your way to the other side of the garden, you can grab a drink at Loulou, the stylish restaurant of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs which has one of the sunniest terraces in Paris. You can also simply sit on the grass nearby where you can enjoy the sunset and views of the Eiffel Tower completely for free!
Seasonal Views and Blossoms in Montmartre
Montmartre is gorgeous all year round, however, in spring it has a unique aura and for a few reasons. First of all, with the warmer weather it’s nicer to stroll around, but since the leaves haven’t budded yet, you can enjoy great views that aren’t available the other nine months of the year—especially of the Eiffel Tower. You can admire excellent views of it sitting with your sweetheart on a bench in the Square Nadar (a few steps southwest of Sacré-Coeur), standing on the street above, rue Azais, or in the Place du Calvaire, which is around the corner from Place du Tertre.
It’s also the best time of year for the view of Sacré-Coeur from the end of the Allée des Brouillard and of the Moulin Radet (a favorite subject of Van Gogh) climbing rue Tholozé. You’ll also find blossoms early spring at the bottom of the steps in front of Sacré-Coeur, in the park behind the church, mid spring in the Place Marcel Aymé and later spring, the wisteria on Avenue Junot. After your stroll, carry on enjoying the countryside vibes with a drink in the garden of the Hotel Particulier Montmartre or the stupendous panorama of the city from the rooftop of the Terrass Hotel.
Walking the Former Rails
Various sections of La Petite Ceinture, the former suburban rail lines into Paris, have been converted into attractive walkways and these make for a nice alternative place to stroll from a regular city park. The most famous of these is the Coulée Verte René-Dumont (also known as the Promenade Plantée), which extends from behind the Opera Bastille and all the way to the Bois de Vincennes, either above the elevated rails or on ground level paths. It’s quite sublime in spring when the buds are appearing on the trees and the spring flowers are busting out. However, for something a little different, head to the sections which are found in the 15th arrondissement (access across from 99 rue Olivier de Serres) and the one in the 16th (access at 36 Boulevard de Beauséjour). You’ll cross paths with fewer people on your romantic amble.
Picnic in Parc de Sceaux
Located around a 30-minute train ride from central Paris, the Parc de Sceaux has some of the loveliest cherry blossoms in all of Ile-de-France. The park usually have a special weekend in April dedicated to the blossoms, similar to a Japanese Sakura festival. While this could be fun, it does get crowded, so if you can make it out during the week that’s best. Pack some snacks and a blanket to lay down under a cherry tree-—it’s a beautiful way to enjoy spring and get out of the city!
Lily Heise is a Paris-based writer covering dating, romance and travel. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, CondeNastTraveler.com, Playboy.com, Business Insider, Frommer’s, among others. She is also the author of two lively memoirs, Je T’Aime Me Neither and Je T’Aime… Maybe? on the search for romance in Paris. She shares original Paris date ideas and other global romantic travel tips on her site Je T’Aime, Me Neither.