Paris is a city that instantly conjures images of romance: the sparkling Eiffel Tower, bridges across the River Seine and views from the rooftops. But according to the dictionary, romance is: “A quality or feeling of mystery, excitement and remoteness from everyday life.” While it can be difficult to feel remote in Paris (as it’s officially the world’s most-visited city, with more than 30 million visitors every year), luckily there are still places that aren’t on absolutely every visitor’s itinerary. Races that are full of mystery, history and – of course – romance.
Here are some inside tips on where to experience romance away from the madding crowds.
The Kiss. The Rodin Museum (Musée Rodin) is easily one of the nicest museums in Paris. Rodin’s former residence – which reopened in late 2015 after a three-year restoration – is a beautiful, classical mansion. It’s situated in a park dotted with his sculptures, and features views of the golden dome of Les Invalides, Napoleon’s tomb and the Eiffel Tower. There’s a garden cafe selling decent croissants and very good macarons – which alone are worth the visit. But take a stroll through the gardens and you’ll also see the well-known sculpture, ‘The Thinker” contemplating life. Inside the exhibition area there is again, finally, “The Kiss”. The 1889 marble sculpture depicts the first kiss of lovers Paolo and Francesca (from Dante’s Divine Comedy) who were slain by Francesca’s husband and condemned to wander through hell for evermore. It’s love, lust and romance (and, um, murder), all in one.
Maison Magic. Next to lovely Parc Monceau, full of follies and even a pair of turtles in the duck pond, is the perfectly preserved Musée Nissim de Camondo, the private mansion of a banking family who lived there in the early 1900s. Moïse de Camondo had the villa built to house his collections, and a collector he certainly was. From paintings and furniture to decorative items and china. Moïse had it all. But the rich Jewish family was destined for tragedy, with the heir Nissim dying in World War I, and the daughter and her family eventually dying in Nazi camps during World War II. None of the Camodo family survived, and the house was preserved in its original condition by Les Arts Décoratifs foundation. It’s an amazing and touching insight into how this family lived in early 1900s Paris.