Why Is Paris Considered One Of The Most Romantic Cities In The World? - Xel Bookings (2023)

Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel and Bookpleasures is excited to have as a guest, world- wide Paris expert, Thirza Vallois. Thirza is the author of the three volumes of “Around and About Paris”, and another excellent book,” Romantic Paris”.

Thirza has lived in Paris for the past 40 years and holds several post-graduate degrees from La Sorbonne. She contributes to television and radio and has appeared on PBS, BBC, The Travel Channel, Discovery, CNN, The French Cultural Channel, among others. She also writes for The Financial Times, United Airlines’ Hemispheres, Condé Nast Traveller, among others.

She is the author of Three Perfect Days in Paris, aired as a film on all United Airlines international flights and on television throughout the world. The article has won her the first award of NATJA (the North American Travel Journalists’ Association).

Thirza has also contributed the Paris entry of the latest edition of The Encarta Encyclopaedia.

Thirza is also an expert on the Aveyron area in southern France. During the past several years she has devoted much of her time to exploring and studying this region of France. She is now completing a new book on this last hidden region of France, to be published in 2006.

Thirza has also informed me that she has been travelling extensively in the USA, especially to California, about which she has written a couple of articles, with more to follow

Today, Thirza will be discussing with us why Paris is so romantic?

Good day Thirza and thank you for accepting to be interviewed by sketchandtravel.com and bookpleasures.com.


Thirza, could you tell us something about yourself, how you started as a travel author and writer, how many travel books have your written, and why have you chosen to write about Paris?


A long time ago, when I was still a child, and travelling was still the privilege of the “happy enlightened few”, I happened to be blessed with an exceptional mother who believed that the best school was life itself and that the best way to embrace life was by travelling.

My exposure therefore started at a very young age, as did my love for writing, through which I expressed myself the way one does through painting, singing, playing an instrument, dancing…. I never intended to become a writer, it was just part of me. And I never chose to write about Paris. It just happened, and for two specific reasons looking back with hindsight.

Being a savvy traveller, it upset me to see how most visitors to Paris (and any other place), do it the wrong way, using directory-like guidebooks that make them go through all the endless lists of touristy “musts”, rather than point them to the “real” place, which is the city itself. It is only through an in-depth exploration and the understanding of a place that one can make the most of one’s visit, and that’s what my books “Around and About Paris” are all about.

Like all forms of self-expression, there is always an element of therapy behind the motivation, and I certainly needed to do my own therapy regarding Paris when the idea of writing about Paris began to gestate in my mind, back in the 1980s. Paris has changed dramatically since, but in those days it was an exasperating place, inhabited by very difficult people, to say the least, and my feelings for it were far from the phony “I love Paris in the spring time” picture postcard cultivated by Hollywood. It was really a love and hate passion, and I needed to understand my own heart, which could only happen through understanding the city.

It is the combination of the above that gave birth to my 3-volume series, “Around and About Paris”. As for “Romantic Paris”, it was their natural extension in a way. Once I provided my reader with all the meaty stuff, it was time to relax, enjoy and feast, and who does it better than lovers? It was a book written for lovers, past, present, and future, for whom Paris, more than any other city I can think of, has been designed by the gods. This also answers your other question. I have so far written four books on Paris. I have actually written a fifth book on Paris, targeting children, but have never pursued its publication (to my regret), having embarked on my new project, my book on the Aveyron which is now more than two thirds done.


Can you explain to our audience why Paris is among the top romantic

venues in the world?


Everyone asks me this same question, on every interview. The answer I give is always the same, and best resumed in the introduction to “Romantic Paris”. Rather than paraphrase, let me quote directly from my book:

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“For decades I tried to figure out why Paris is shrouded in such mystique. Granted, walks at night along the Seine are enchanting, but that alone cannot explain why the very mention of Paris had always conjured up tales of romance, well before it was blessed with gas or electricity, well before its exquisitely lit street-corners were replicated the world over in black-and-white print. After all, medieval Paris was a dark den of filth, reeking with nauseous stench, and the two sinister prison fortresses that jutted out of its skyline could hardly have been conducive to romance. Not to mention the 32 rotting corpses dangling in the offing when the royal gallows was used to full capacity. Yet the myth has been perpetuated for a good thousand years.

I racked my brains, I dug into the past, I travelled into my own psyche looking for an answer, but I came back empty-handed. There simply is no answer. There lies the beauty of the enigma. Paris is poetry, Paris is mystery, Paris is beauty-an exasperating decoy that never quite delivers, all the more compelling for its imperfection, the archetypal reservoir of all our passions….”


If you had to choose six unique romantic venues in Paris, where would they be and why?


Very tough question, and it sometimes depends on the season or time of day or night, because “romantic” implies seclusion.

*Definitely the two western tips of the two central islands, Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis, but down the steps, at water level, and in the case of Ile Saint-Louis, preferably after dark.

*The tiny place de Fürstemberg, near the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés: it is a rare jewel after dark, but is also quite heavenly in the morning, when one can meanwhile take in the delightful little Delacroix Museum.

*Place Dauphine, on the western side of Ile de la Cité, also preferably after dark.

*Buttes Chaumont, which has all the ingredients of a Brahms symphony that would have appealed to the likes of Lord Byron: a grotto, a dramatic waterfall, a lake with weeping willows, sheer cliffs topped by a Temple de l’Amour-what better place for a lovers’ kiss with eastern Paris spread like a carpet at your feet!

* Palais Royal (the home of writer Colette and Jean Cocteau), in early morning, before the arrival of the crowds, or at night time, after they have departed.

* Montmartre, especially on the little frequented side streets, again in the early hours of the morning, or after dark.


Could you describe to our audience six unique wedding venues in Paris to celebrate a marriage, and explain why you would consider these venues to be most unique?


Once more the choice is tough, so I am trying to be as eclectic as I can, to match people’s different tastes.

*Without any shadow of doubt, my first choice would go to a cruise boat on the river Seine. These come in different categories and different price ranges, my favourite fleet being “Les Yachts de Paris”. Nothing equals in terms of urban beauty and glamour the city’s river views, even more so when seen from the water. Try to prolong your festivities into the night so as to enjoy the splendour of the floodlighting.

Les Yachts de Paris

10, quai Henri IV, 75004

Tel: 01 44 54 14 70

*At a price, every monument of Paris is for hire, even the Château of Versailles. If I were to hire one of them (or just part of one) for my wedding, I would probably go for the Jacquemart-André Museum, because as the one-time home of the famous art collectors Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart, it has a private feel,to a certain extent, despite its palatial glamour, which makes it an ideal venue for a wedding occasion. The couple’s fabulous art collection is on permanent display on the magnificent premises of the museum.

Musée Jacquemart-André

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158, Boulevard Haussmann, 75008

*Countrified weddings are always appealing, and the Bois de Boulogne is as countrified as you can get within the boundaries of Paris. Le Pré Catelan offers luxury and refinement amidst beautiful green surroundings, combined with the the renowned Le Nôtre’s top-quality catering.

Le Pré Catelan

Bois de Boulogne

Route de Suresnes, 75016

Tel 01 44 14 41 14

*If you wish to have it countrified while staying in central Paris, you can opt for the discreet magnificence of the peach-coloured Laurent, in the lower gardens of the Champs-Elysées, and still enjoy the leafy surroundings of one of the city’s most prestigious neighbourhoods (the presidential residence is across the street). Make sure to hire a dining room that comes with a terrace.

Le Laurent

41, avenue Gabriel, 75008

Tel: 01 42 25 00 39

*There was once an excellent film by Chabrol, Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie. That kind of charm, which was first and foremost that of the old aristocracy, was beautifully captured by Marcel Proust. It still lingers on Faubourg Saint Germain in the 7th arrondissement, notably in the 18th century townhouse, now the home of the celebrated Ecole Polytechnique alumni, where many of the nation’s creme de la creme elite were trained.

La Maison des Polytechniciens

12, rue de Poitiers

75007 Paris

Tél: 01 49 54 74 74

*The avenue d’Iéna, in the plush neighbourhood of the 16th arrondissement, is home to a magnificent town mansion from the late 19th century, decorated in traditional, period French style and overlooking a beautiful garden. Ideal for a wedding in grand style.

La Maison des Arts et Métiers

9bis avenue d’Iéna

75116 Paris

Tel: 01 40 69 27 00


If you are planning to have a destination wedding in Paris, how far in advance should you prepare for the wedding, and where would you go to find out about the legal requirements?

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There is a strict separation between state and church in France (see the recent headlines about the Islamic veil…..). This is important to understand because only civil marriage is recognised by French law. It is celebrated by the Mayor of the arrondissement where one of the spouses resides, and the ceremony takes place in the Salle de Marriage of the Mairie of that same arrondissement. There is a legal procedure to go by and you will need to seek legal advice for that. If you are considering a civil marriage in France, a lawyer is the person to consult, obviously (although I do know how it works, this is not the right forum to expand on administrative issues). You may also require the service of a notaire, should you be dealing with property issues. Your lawyer can refer you to a notaire. On the other hand, you don’t need to be a French resident for the celebration of your religious or non-religious ceremony, nor do you need any legal advice for that. However, you should definitely prepare for it as early as possible because, as they say, “the early bird catches the prey”. Certainly months ahead, if not a year, should you plan your wedding to take place in spring or early summer.


If you had to choose three of the most romantic restaurants in Paris, which ones would you choose and why?


* If by romantic we imply secluded cosiness which is what lovers usually seek, and since I haven’t yet focused on winter, the Coupe Chou comes first to my mind, located in an ancient medieval house in the Latin Quarter, a few steps away from the Sorbonne. It’s all dark nooks and crannies, which are graced with glowing log fires. If only it could snow more often in Paris than it does these days! It would then be altogether fit for a fairy tale. As an extra bonus, this is a medium-range restaurant pricewise.

Le Coupe-Chou

9, rue de Lanneau, 75005

Tel: 01 46 33 68 69

* Le Beauvilliers in Montmartre, on the other hand, is a pricy place, but as good as it comes and cheaper than others that fall into that category. Here you step into the romantic splendour of the Second Empire in the heart of real Montmartre, just a few minutes’walk from the differently (yet equally) romantic and cottagy Lapin Agile cabaret, where I would head after dinner, for a night filled with old French songs, sketches and hearty laughter.

Le Beauvilliers

52, rue Lamarck, 75018

Tel: 01 42 54 54 42

* Lapérouse, a pricy place too, cannot be overlooked either, its scintillating setting having been the rendezvous of Venus’s protegés. There is even a private boudoir-lounge where the two of you can dine alone undisturbed. It comes with elaborate, dainty decorations and is named La Belle Otero after the famous, fiery courtesan. If you are worried for your good reputation, note that France’s most honoured members of literati also dined here regularly, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand among them. Remember that the French have a sophisticated, unpuritanical approach to love.


51, quai des Grands-Augustins, 75006

Tel: 01 43 26 68 04


If a couple were planning to honeymoon in Paris, and were not sure which area to stay in, which three areas of the city would you choose and why?


Saint-Germain-des-Prés/Luxembourg area, Paris at its most sophisticated, colourful and arty, lined with extraordinary boutiques that will be hard to resist. It boasts a greater number of “hôtels de charme” than any other part of the city, which speaks for itself, and that’s exactly the kind of hotel a honeymooning couple would choose to stay at, short of choosing one of the city’s luxury hotels.

The Marais is similar in spirit but is less spacious, and doesn’t have a park. It also has several “hôtels de charme”, though not quite so many as Saint-Germain.

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Ile Saint-Louis because it is a self-contained miniature of romance, lined with boutiques and eating places of all sorts, and conveniently located for every part of Paris. It has four “hôtels de charme” to choose among and is within a few minutes’ walk from both the Marais, on the Right Bank, and the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank.


Is Paris a safe city to visit?


No city and no place on earth is fullproof. As I am writing this interview South East Asia is subjected to a deluvian tragedy, all the way to the eastern shores of Africa. Paris is as safe as a big city can be, but one should always use one’s common sense and avoid carrying cash and other valuables when going out. Pickpocketing is rife, and I have been victim to it many a time myself- A brief moment of distraction and your wallet is gone. Leave all your valuables in your safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport rather than the original document. Watch out even at the airport and hold on to your handbag in all public places (including your taxi: some delinquents may open the door and snatch your bag at a traffic light or in a traffic jam. They often operate on motorcycles and that has happened to me too). Be sensible but not paranoid.


When is the best time to visit Paris from the point of view of climate, crowds, travel deals, etc?

Obviously spring time is unique. Good weather is never guaranteed though, no matter what time of year, but should the gods be with you, then spring, by definition, is the season of romance, and an early feel of spring can even be detected as early as on Valentine’s.

I personally have a distaste for July and August, especially from the middle of July on. Most Parisians are replaced by tourists, often in organised crowds, and it just isn’t it. This can also happen at weekends during spring because Europeans nowadays are very fond of weekend city breaks. Fall is a beautiful time of year, often accompanied by a lingering Indian summer, which the golden beauty of the trees contribute to enhance.

Strange as it may seem, I find Paris particularly romantic in winter, when the leafless trees allow you to enjoy the architecture of its buildings. After dark the city is altogether magical,as its street lamps don it with an amber light. It can be cold, but all you have to do is dress accordingly and make the most of the fact that you are likely to be alone out there and the entire city will belong to you and your sweetheart, as you stroll through the streets or by the river into the late hours of the night. At Christmas time you will also enjoy the festive decorations, which, it being Paris, tend to be exquisitely elegant and tasteful.

As for travel deals, they are the same all over the world. Prices shoot up in the summer and plummet in the low season.


How easy or difficult is it to get around Paris?


It is extremely easy to get around Paris. Public transportation (buses, métro and RER express trains) is very efficient and many lines run beyond midnight. Taxis are easily available except on weekend nights. They also get grabbed into thin air as soon as it starts raining. However, Paris is regularly disrupted by protest and other demonstrations (the French thrive on them), which can paralyse the city, usually from 2:00 pm on, often with no forewarning. It is therefore good to stay in central Paris so that you can make your way back to your hotel on foot, should you experience one of those typically French “happenings”.


Is there anything else that you wish to add about Romantic Paris that we have not discussed?


Most of the recommendations in this interview are on the pricy side, because we are speaking here of a special event and moment in your life. My book “Romantic Paris” has pages and pages of tips and recommendations of things to be done and enjoyed on all budgets, including low budgets. Paris can truly be enjoyed romantically on a shoestring. The best of Paris is strolling through its streets, and that costs little or nothing. I have designed several romantic walks for you in “Romantic Paris”. That’s over and above the scores of walks woven into “Around and About Paris”. Put on your most comfortable footgear and venture into the city, including in the heart of winter. Soak it all up. And try, just once, to stay up all night, so that you can enjoy a sunrise either from the river, or from the foot of the Sacré Coeur.

Thanks once again and best of luck on all of your future endeavours including your future book on Aveyron.

Source by Norm Goldman

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Why is Paris considered the most romantic city? ›

The attraction of its food, its wine, its champagne, and the atmosphere on the café-terraces and the Belle Epoque brasseries makes Paris the perfect romantic destination of choice for lovers.

Is Paris the most romantic city in the world? ›

As the most romantic (or romanticized) place on Earth, Paris is often referred to as the City of Love.

Why is Paris the most beautiful city in the world? ›

Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is known worldwide for the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame cathedral, and the Eiffel tower. It has a reputation of being a romantic and cultural city. The city is also known for its high-quality gastronomy and the terraces of its cafés.

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Paris, France

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Why do so many people love Paris? ›

Incredible Museums and Art Galleries

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Where is the most romantic city in the world? ›

10 most romantic cities in the world
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What is Paris known for love? ›

Eiffel Tower aka The Symbol of Love

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Italy, unsurprisingly, holds fast to four spots on this year's list: one even claims the No. 1 title. Paris is a close second, and almost a requisite for any couple traveling in the name of love.

Why is France the most romantic city in world? ›

Paris is know for stunning architectural landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre. These iconic buildings and monuments provide a picturesque backdrop for romantic strolls and picnics.

What makes Paris so interesting? ›

Paris is known for its gorgeous, imposing monuments. These iconic structures, often an exemplar of a particular era in architecture, are one of the city's instantly recognizable elements. The preeminent of Paris's landmarks is the Eiffel Tower.

Is Paris considered the most beautiful city in the world? ›

Paris is unarguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the capital of France, of art and of fashion.

Where is more romantic Paris or Venice? ›

Venice - The City Of Canals

It is possible one will consider Venice to be the most romantic city in the world - but for very different reasons why one may consider Paris or Prague. There are few things more relaxing and romantic than taking a romantic gondola ride down the historic canals and streets of Venice.

Is Paris the City of Love or flowers? ›

There's a reason Paris is known as the City of Love. Everything — from its charming streets to ornate architecture, the café culture to elaborate pastries — exudes a certain “je ne sais quoi” (that's French for “I don't know what,” the perfect phrase to sum up something inexpressible).

Is Paris a good place to love? ›

Paris is one of the best cities to live in France. Paris is rich in culture and art, has endless work opportunities, world-class universities, and so many life-changing opportunities. So it's no surprise the City of Lights is a muse for many books, movies, and artists.

Why is Paris considered beautiful? ›

It has a culture of art, music, films, museums, and theatres. It is one of the leading business and fashion centers in the world. A blend of both old and new architecture, parks and squares, the beautiful Seine River, and the beautiful Parisians make it a unique and fascinating place to visit or to live in.

What is the real city of love? ›

City of Love may refer to: Paris, as a nickname. Venice, as a nickname.

What makes a city romantic? ›

Texture: a romantic city has texture that evokes more senses than simply sight. They are built upon different and rich materials that complement a human scale, again adding to an elemental intimacy with not only your loved one, but a connection to the space you occupy.

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Is Paris known city of light or love? ›

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Why is France so romantic? ›

It was based both on desire and courtesy. The courtesy element was based on a set of values and good manners cherished particularly amongst middle nobility. It was an idealized love, often secretive and existing outside of the institution of marriage, with many works highlighted both passion and despair.

Is Paris the country of love? ›

French is one of the most romantic languages in the world

Considered across the world as one of the most attractive languages, the language spoken by Parisians is one of the many reasons why Paris is known as the city of love.

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More than a tradition, it's a habit and even a reflex. Of Latin origin, the greeting kissing persists in countries where the culture of contact dominates, and this culture is deeply rooted in France. The French still greet each other by touching each other, kissing or shaking hands.

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Paris truly is a romantic city through and through. A stay in this city makes for an unforgettable trip for couples whether it is your first time or 100th visit to Paris! What are your favorite romantic things to do in Paris?

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There are plenty of reasons why Italy is the most romantic country in the world – its stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage and its delicious food and wine are just some of the reasons Italy is the land of more. One thing that really makes Italy so romantic is its people.

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Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of the world's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, gastronomy, and science. For its leading role in the arts and sciences, as well as its early and extensive system of street lighting, in the 19th century, it became known as "the City of Light".

What is the number 1 most beautiful city in the world? ›

1. Rome, Italy. At number one you voted Rome as the most beautiful city in the world. With its thousand-year-old buildings such as the Forum Romanum or the Colosseum, beautiful piazzas and world-class art – not to mention Vatican City – we are certainly not surprised.

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Tourism in Paris and the Île-de-France region climbed again in 2022 with over 44 million visitors calculated. This represented an enormous 95% increase since 2021 but is not quite at pre-pandemic levels.

What city in Italy is known for love? ›

The Italian city of Venice surely makes it onto every traveller's must-see list. It is a destination unlike any other, with a reputation for romance that surpasses even that of the Italian capital, or Venice's near neighbour that was the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

What city in Italy is most like Paris? ›

Florence city, Italy

Europe's preeminent city for 250 years and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, you could say that Florence was Paris centuries before Paris became Paris.

Which city is called the most romantic by most Europeans? ›

Edinburgh. We're not surprised that Edinburgh has been named one of the most romantic cities in the world, with its stunning architecture, beautiful backdrops, and secret spots perfect for a date across the city.

Why Paris is called city of Life? ›

The idea was to prevent lawbreakers from dodging the police or hiding in dark alleys, therefore reducing the crime rate. From here on, the city gained the nickname La Ville-Lumière ('The City of Light').

Is Paris expensive to love? ›

Paris ranks as the 2nd most expensive city worldwide. While Paris is an expensive city to live in, it's possible to manage your budget well — especially if you don't have a lavish lifestyle and if compare it to other expensive cities like London and Amsterdam.

Why is France known for being romantic? ›

It was based both on desire and courtesy. The courtesy element was based on a set of values and good manners cherished particularly amongst middle nobility. It was an idealized love, often secretive and existing outside of the institution of marriage, with many works highlighted both passion and despair.

Why is Paris called the City of Lights and love? ›

Two reasons. First, it was among the first European cities to use gas street lamps back in the 1860s, making it literally a City of Light (see pic below). But also because earlier, in the 18th century, Paris was a essentially a hub during the Age of Enlightenment. So literally light, with enlightened minds.

Why France is the most romantic? ›

France is often considered a romantic country because of its beautiful scenery, its rich history, and its reputation for being a “land of love.” France is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world, from the rolling hills of the countryside to the picturesque villages and towns.

Is Paris referred to as the City of Love? ›

Paris is known by several monikers/nicknames one of which is the City Of Love. This beautiful, picturesque city is most often associated with romance.

Why are tourists attracted to Paris? ›

From iconic bucket list attractions like the Eiffel Tower to picture-perfect pleasures like a picnic on the bank of the Seine River, Paris offers something for everyone. Your first visit may feel magical, but even if you return dozens of times, you will never run out of new things to see and do.

Is France the most romantic country in the world? ›

France is, after all, the most romantic country in the world.

What city is called the City of Love? ›

City of Love may refer to: Paris, as a nickname. Venice, as a nickname.

Why are people attracted to France? ›

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. “People are drawn to France for the exquisite cuisine, culture, pure beauty of the country and, ultimately, the way they feel when there. There is a certain romance to France,” she added.


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