Originally built as a temporary exhibition for the 1889 World's Fair, today there's no other monument that symbolizes Paris better than Gustave Eiffel's world-famous Iron Lady. It's breathtaking, whether you see it sparkling from your hotel window after dark or join the millions of annual visitors to brave the glass elevator trip to the top.
It took almost 200 years to finish this 12th-century Gothic masterpiece immortalized by Victor Hugo and his fictional hunchback. Climb the spiral staircase of the bell towers for a close-up gander at the gargoyles, or have a peek at relics such as the Crown of Thorns in the cathedral treasury.
Jardin du Luxembourg
This is one of the prime leisure spots on the Left Bank for urban-weary Parisians. Relax in a reclining park chair with a picnic lunch or a book, watch a game of boules
while the kids enjoy a marionette show, or visit an exhibition at the Musée Luxembourg in a wing of the 17th century Palais de Luxembourg, which is now home to the Paris Senate.
Jardin des Tuileries
The 17th-century formal French landscape of these gardens behind the Louvre is punctuated by contemporary sculptures, a café, and two noteworthy museums: the Musée du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l'Orangerie. In summer there's a small amusement park and Ferris wheel.
Arc de Triomphe
The 164-foot-tall Arc de Triomphe has served as the backdrop to official military parades since its completion in 1836. Use the underground passageway to reach the monument, where you can visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the arch or climb the stairs for amazing panoramic views of the city.
After a stunted lifespan as a train station constructed for the 1900 World's Fair, this beautiful Belle Époque building is filled with Art Nouveau objects, Impressionist paintings, vintage photography, and realist sculptures. Don't miss the scale model of the Opéra Garnier or the views of the Seine from the grand ballroom now housing the museum's restaurant.
Opulent, stunning, and magnificently over-the-top, Charles Garnier's opera house is one of the outstanding jewels of the Second Empire. Its illustrious marble staircase and ruby-red box seats have been featured in films from Dangerous Liaisons
and its backstage corridors are famously haunted by the Phantom of the Opera.
The Pompidou Centre's groundbreaking "inside-out" design is still visually shocking (it opened in 1977) this is also the top destination for modern-art lovers in Paris.
This wedding-cake white basilica dominates Montmartre's hilltop. Most visitors are content with the views overlooking the city from the basilica stairs, but ambitious sight seekers can climb to the bell tower for an even higher vantage point.
Musée du Louvre
The grandest museum in the world was just a humble fortress in the 12th century, but grew in size and prestige as a sumptuous royal palace until the French Revolution gave it a new lease on life as home to the Republic's art collection. Don't miss the big three—Mona Lisa, Winged Victory,
and Venus de Milo.
It isn't hard to stumble across a romantic moment in Paris. Couples kiss on park benches, dine by candlelight in cozy neighborhood bistros, and walk arm-in-arm in the rain.
At the top of our list for romantic moments is a trip to the top of the quintessential Paris monument, the Eiffel Tower.
You get extra points for making a reservation at the elegant (and pricey) Jules Verne restaurant, which lets you bypass the crowds for a VIP elevator ride. And if your sweetheart isn't with you in Paris, you can send a soulful missive from the Tower's exclusive mailbox; it'll arrive with the Eiffel Tower postmark.
If seeing the Eiffel Tower in the skyline is part of your romantic vision, there are choice spots throughout Paris from which to gaze upon it. Montmartre's Sacré-Coeur,
the second-highest point in the city (after the Tower itself), has breathtaking vistas, as well as a lovely green space to throw down a blanket and snuggle. Or head to the top of Center Georges Pompidou
for a glass of champagne at the restaurant while gazing out at the Tower and the silvery Parisian rooftops. Although somewhat more prosaic, don't rule out Au Printemps
's top-floor terrace for views: the café atop the department store has stunning 360-degree panoramas.
Speaking of shopping, some of the world's best lingerie can be found in Paris; wear it for romance, but enjoy shopping for it, too. Department stores have entire floors dedicated to underthings, and there are fabulous boutiques throughout the city where you can find styles and materials to suit every personality and budget.
Romance in Paris? Well, there's always something sexy about a hotel room, but why does it seem that Paris hotels have a little something extra? It might be the gorgeous old buildings and the unique, often family-owned, accommodations. Or maybe it's the history—the ghost of Oscar Wilde or Henry Miller wandering through what used to be a pavillon d'amour
? At any rate, it seems to us that if you're going to splurge on luxury accommodations, Paris is the place to do it.
Big spending, of course, isn't always necessary, no matter what you're up to. An expensive meal is one thing, but snacking at a corner crêperie can be just as romantic as a sit-down dinner. Indeed, a picnic by the Seine, or at one of the marvelous jardins
(gardens) is one of the ultimate romantic, and generally inexpensive, Parisian experiences (unless you buy a EUR 2,000 bottle of Château Lafite to wash it down). Feed your love with bites of chocolate and cheese in the manicured Jardin du Luxembourg
or at the intimate Place des Vosges.
If art fuels your passions, Paris is home to romantic museums aplenty—for starters, visit the Musée Rodin
and its elegant gardens, and make sure to see the sculpture of The Kiss.
If you just love to stroll, hand in hand, Paris is your place. Any of the windy streets will do, but a walk along the Seine
is assured to create romantic memories—especially if you pick a bridge for a sunset kiss. For a straight-from-the-movies moment, pretend you're Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in Charade
and take a nighttime boat tour, making sure to time it so that you see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at the top of the hour.