Paris Tips: 4 Romantic Picnic Spots with Regal Appeal
By Theadora Brack
Incelebration of Leap Year, come hither! Let’s give a smouldering nod to the late, great Éric Rohmer and his movie Les Rendezvous de Paris. Lights! Camera! Action!
Here are a few of my favorite rendezvous-worthy places, squares and gardens in Paris, along with the statues that bring them to life.
1. Place du Trocadéro
Place du Trocadéro, 16th arrondissement
At the fab Trocadéro, you’ll find one of my favorite views of the Eiffel Tower. Let’s first share a brownie and a soda pop at the bustling Café Carlu nestled inside the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine. Hands-down, this is my new happy place! I think you’re going to dig the bookshop, too.
2. Place Dalida
The tip of rues Girardon and Abreuvoir, 18th arrondissement (Métro Abbesses)
Pilgrims from all over the world flock to the impressive bust of Dalida (the female Elvis of France) and touch her for luck! By the way, the pop diva’s house is located nearby on rue d’Orchampt, and her grave is in the Cimetière de Montmartre. (Katy Perry’s fireworks got nothing on you, Dalida!)
3. Jardin des Tuileries
1st arrondissement (Métro Concorde)
Next stop! Let’s meet at Métro Concorde, and then we’ll pick up reading material at the W.H. Smith Book Shop. For inspiration, let’s not forget the Jardin de Tuileries gift shop either. How green does your garden grow?
Flashback: Created by Catherine de Médici (with a slight Italian flair) in the 16th century, the Jardin de Tuileries wasgiven a redo by landscape architect André Le Nôtre during the Sun King’s reign. After the Big Wigs’ big move to Versailles, it became one of the first public parks.
Sadly, this was also where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were held prisoners during the French Revolution. At that time, due to years of neglect, the gardens were rampant with duckweed, prostitution, and angry mobs.
Fast forward: Cafés, chairs, and one hundred statues (including many by Maillol) now seductively tempt. Writer Henry Valentine Miller made no secret of his profound attraction of the bronzes.
“No appointments, no invitations for dinner, no program, no dough. . . sitting down on a bench and squeezing my guts to stop the gnawing or walking through the Jardin des Tuileries getting an erection looking at the dumb statues.” Oh, sigh. It’s Miller, after all!
4. Square du Vert-Galant
Tip of the Île de la Cité, Ist Arrondissement
(Métro Pont Neuf)
Let’s now stroll on over to another favorite centuries-old romantic hotspot, le Square du Vert-Galant at the tip of the Île de la Cité. Created by King Henri IV, its spectacular view of la Seine and currents crashing into its banks still move the rendezvous-ers, so hold on tight while I straighten your trench coat collar.
Along the way, we’ll pick up a compact but oh so filling crêpe fromage! I’m not the first to propose the tip of the Île de la Cité as the perfect spot for a little pic-a-necking, and I certainly won’t be the last.
Meet Henri: For the love of vitality, admiration, and gossip, Parisians gave the little tear-drop-shaped park the flamboyant King Henri IV’s nickname, “Vert-Galant,” or “Gay Blade,” since he was larger than life, compassionate, wildly loved, and quite the looker back in the day.
Mad about music, wine and women, Henri would horse around here in the park after dark with his friends, entertainers, and favorite mistress, Gabrielle d’Estrée. Love was in the air. Love is still in the air.
As Henri IV liked to say, “Great cooking and great wines make a paradise on earth!”