View of the Paris skyline with a dusk sky, the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides are lit up by golden lights and the Arc de Triomphe can be seen in the background. Graffiti overlay featuring a quote from the article: "Imagine a pink Palace of Versailles"

Paris: City of Love or Lights? The Most Romantic Things to Do in Paris

Here You’ll Find:
❤️ Why is Paris the City of Love?
When Paris Became the City of Love
Romantic Landmarks
Fine Dining
Paris' Museum of Love
💡 Why is Paris called the City of Light?
Gleaming Lights
First Street Lights
Age of Enlightenment


Paris is not only the City of Love, but also boasts breathtaking architectural graces and almost unlimited romantic places for couples to spend time. In a land where romance lives forever, the question 'is Paris City of Love or Lights' can only be met with one answer. Paris has city lights and city love. Whether you're looking for romance or simply want to take in some of the most beautiful sights in the world, there are plenty of things to do in Paris that will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Start your love affair with the city by doing some the most romantic things to do in Paris, such as a visit to the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame Cathedral.



Pink Paris sunset with views of the Eiffel Tower

Why is Paris the City of Love?

When Did Paris Get Its Reputation As the 'cité de l'amour' / 'City of Love'?

When did Paris get its reputation as the City of Love? For centuries, Paris has been known as a romantic city. The French capital has long been associated with love and romance. How did Paris become known as the City of Love? Here's a look at Paris’ ‘City of Love’ history.

Paris has always been a popular tourist destination, thanks in part to its rich history and world-renowned landmarks. However, it wasn't until the early 20th century that Paris truly became known as the City of Love. That's when writers such as Émile Zola popularized the city's romantic atmosphere in their novels and stories. The popularity of Paris as a destination for love was later boosted by the arrival of Hollywood stars such as Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in the 1930s.

However, the reasons why Paris is the City of Love can be traced back to the Middle Ages when Paris was a small, rural community. The city's many canals and waterways made it a popular place for lovers to meet and exchange secrets. Over time, the city's romantic atmosphere spread to all social classes. Paris has a history of love affairs and secret meetings. Throughout its long history, Paris has been home to many famous lovers, such as Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. Today, Paris is still considered one of the most romantic cities in the world.


Sculpture of lovers at the Medici Fountain in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Romantic Landmarks

Imagine a lazy morning in one of the many romantic hotels Paris (France) has to offer. Breakfast in bed, a bouquet of freshly cut flowers, and an upcoming day full of romance; soaking in the sights and sounds of the most romantic city in France.

Paris is a city that oozes romance, and it's no wonder that it is a popular destination for honeymoons and marriage proposals. Some of the most romantic places in paris to propose include the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum. These locations are perfect to pop the question or even for couples looking to exchange vows against a backdrop they’ll never forget.

Romantic movies are often filmed in front of the city's most famous landmarks. It's no wonder that so many romantic movies and books are set in Paris. Audrey Hepburn, who starred in a handful of films set and filmed in the city, once said, "Paris, is always a good idea". And she wasn't alone; many other famous actors and actresses have called the City of Lights their favorite place to film. From classic films like “Charade” and “Paris When it Sizzles”, to more recent fare like “Moulin Rouge!”, “Amélie” and “The Da Vinci Code”, Paris has been a popular backdrop for iconic moments and love scenes alike. The City of Lights is also a perfect setting for countless novels and stories about love.


French macarons in a shop-front window in Paris

Fine Dining

When planning a romantic trip to Paris, it is important to consider the phase "the best way to the heart is through the stomach". The city has many excellent restaurants that are perfect for a special night out. One of the most romantic streets in Paris is the Champs-Élysées. There are many excellent restaurants located off this avenue, including Le Bristol and L'Orangerie. There are several romantic restaurants in Paris near the Eiffel Tower that offer stunning views of the cityscape. For a more intimate evening out, try one of the small boutique restaurants or one of the quintessentially French romantic cafes in Paris that nestle themselves amongst the twinkling Paris city lights. No matter where you choose to dine in Paris, make sure to enjoy a beautiful view while savouring some delicious food!

For the French, enjoying good food is a way of life. It's an important part of their culture and history. They believe that good food can bring people together and make them happy. This is why they encourage people to come together and "enjoy the art of good eating and drinking". Good food and drink are taken seriously. It's not just a way to fill up on calories and get sozzled; good meals are enjoyed for their own sake, as an art form. The city of Paris is full of romantic restaurants with a view that offer a unique experience. There are many places to eat in Paris that are perfect for any palate. Romantic places to eat in Paris can be found all over the city; peaceful rooftop gardens form a roster of romantic Paris restaurants with a view, but are no more well-regarded within French foodie culture than the bustling streetside markets.

Three dishes that will impress even the most discerning diners whilst on, what is sure to be, one of many romantic Paris breaks are: crepes, cassoulets, and macarons.

  • Crepes are a classic French dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Made from a thin batter that is folded over and then cooked on a hot pan, crepes can be filled with anything you like- from fruit to Nutella and whipped cream.
  • Cassoulets are hearty soups made with lamb or beef, potatoes, white beans, and herbs. The traditional version of cassoulet is made with lamb, but you can also buy vegetarian ones or even vegan versions.
  • Macarons are a French pastry that is made by baking almond flour and confectioners' sugar into an airy dough. They are traditionally made in a round shape, but you can also make them into other shapes. They can be filled with meringue or chocolate.


Picturesque winding street in the Montmartre area of Paris

Paris Even Has Its Own Museum of Love

The Musée de la vie Romantique is located in Montmartre, one of the most romantic neighbourhoods in Paris. Montmartre is home to many of the the things that make Paris romantic and is the perfect place to stay when you visit Paris, and it's no wonder - with its winding streets and picturesque squares. The museum itself has a beautiful garden which is so romantic in Paris and perfect for a picnic; definitely a candidate for one of the most romantic places to propose in Paris. If you want to propose to your loved one in another unique way, consider taking a Paris romantic boat trip. These trips take you on scenic river cruises that pass by some of the city’s most popular romantic attractions, like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

The Musée de la vie Romantique (Museum of Romantic Life) is a museum dedicated to the romantic side of Paris, known as the City of Love. The museum has a variety of exhibits that explore the city's rich history of love. This includes items from famous Parisian love stories, such as The Notebook of Madame D'Epinay and Romeo and Juliet. Visitors can also learn about the City of Love - Paris' - romance options, such as platonic love between friends and passionate unrequited love. The museum gives a fascinating City of Love - Paris - walkthrough and has displays on Paris' 'City of Love' history, including tips for finding the right place to take a walk, eating out, and the best things to do in Paris for couples.



The Alexander-III Bridge street lamps

Why is Paris called the City of Light?

Gleaming Lights

The modern assumption made of Paris' title as the City of Lights, is that Paris is called City of Lights because of the huge amount of Paris city lights seen across the big city at night. Paris is known for its beautiful architecture and its romantic skyline. But what many people don't know is that the city is also known for its 37 bridges, 33 of which are illuminated at night, to be seen from a distance. The bridges are a part of the city's network of Paris city lights and are often seen as one of the city's defining features. Whether it's the Pont de l'Alma or the Pont Alexandre III, each bridge has its own unique beauty that can be seen in all seasons in the glow of a picturesque Paris night. Whether you're looking to take the perfect picture or simply enjoy the view, spending time under Paris' lights is a must-do in any big city lover's bucket list. After all, what is Paris known as, the City of Lights and the City of Love, in perfect harmony.

A night stroll along the River Seine will show you why this place is so special. The banks are lined with quaintly lit cafes, restaurants, and theaters, while the river itself is filled with boats and cruisers. It's a great place to take a romantic evening walk or to just enjoy the view. Along the river, you'll see many famous buildings and monuments glowing in different colours, imagine a pink Palace of Versailles, ochre Notre Dame Cathedral, cyan City Hall or Paris’ art galleries bathed in gold. Just like any other city, Paris has its share of tourist traps and pickpocket artists, but it's still worth visiting for its beautiful architecture, city lights and romantic atmosphere.

Whether you're looking to take in some of the city's most famous landmarks while they bathe in a soft light or simply want to see the skyline at night with all its gleaming lights, you won’t disappointed in the City of Lights. Tourists flock to Paris at all hours of the day and night for its many attractions, but it is especially beautiful at night when the city is lit up by millions of twinkling bulbs. The iconic Eiffel Tower glittering lights are no exception, as it boasts over 20,000 lightbulbs that are turned on every night. The tower also has a Michelin starred restaurant, which allows visitors a unique perspective of the city below and at the top of ‘la tour Eiffel’ you can find one of the most romantic bars in Paris for a glass of champagne with views across the city. Other landmarks that can be seen from a height during the evenings, include Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe.


Street lights against a dusky sky in Paris, near the Louvre

First Street Lights

Tracing back further through Paris’ history for references of the City of Light, we discover Louis XIV’s contribution toward the city’s luminous nomenclature. During the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), Paris experienced a period of great economic and social progress. This was due in part to the king's policies, which included installing more lighting in the streets and homes, and investing in infrastructure. These measures helped to decrease crime rates by making it more difficult for criminals to hide or operate undetected. Parisians also lit up their homes using oil lamps and candles at night, creating an eerie yet romantic atmosphere that has long been celebrated by writers and poets. This era allows for either description of Paris: The City of Love or Lights, because the Paris night was being lit like few cities had seen before, which in turn gave rise to many descriptive writings, telling of a romantic atmosphere in the Paris night.

Paris was among the first European cities to use gas street lamps. During the 18th century, Paris became one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in Europe. The grandiose architecture and lively nightlife were a magnet for wealthy French nobles and even international travellers seeking entertainment and relaxation. The city's renowned restaurants, theaters, and cafes attracted literati from all over Europe. One of the most distinguishing features of Parisian life was the increasingly ubiquitous presence of gas street lamps. These oil-fired fixtures were initially introduced to replace tallow candles as the main source of light on streets. Between 1839 and 1870 the number of public gaslights burning in the Paris night started increasing from around 14,000 to more than 21,000.

Paris is credited with installing the world's first electric streetlights in 1878. The arc lamps, also known as Yablochkov candles, were installed in the city's main thoroughfares and became an iconic part of Parisian nightlife. Visitors to Paris can still see the legacy of these early lights today when they walk around the city streets at night. Three years after its initial design was put into use, 4,000 of these new electric street lights, that were used to replace gas lamps mounted on poles, were in service. After being the first city to put electric street lighting to use, it officially gained the title ‘La Ville-Lumière’, in English called ‘City of Light’.


A landscape reimagining of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. In this version she is seen holding a lightbulb

Age of Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment was a time period in which people became more interested in learning and thinking for themselves. This movement is credited with first gaining traction in Paris and spread to other parts of Europe. The Age of Enlightenment is generally considered to have begun in the 16th century and ended in the 18th century. It was in the early 16th century when Leonardo DaVinci took a keen interest in biology and created works of art such as 'Vitruvian Man' and the breathtaking Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre today. However, there is some disagreement as to exactly when the Age of Enlightenment began. Some say it began earlier, with philosophers such as Greek thinkers Plato and Aristotle, while others claim that Renaissance thinkers were the true founders. In any case, this was a time of great change for Europe and its people. Philosophers such as René Descartes and later Voltaire argued that humans could understand the world through scientific reasoning rather than faith.

The Age of Enlightenment led to new forms of art, including classical music, ballet and the rise of democracy and liberalism in Europe. Paris became a central hub for culture during this time, with many artists moving there to pursue their careers. Because of Paris' intrinsic relationship with the Age of Enlightenment, Paris was dubbed "the City of Lights". The name is thought to have come from a phrase used by philosopher René Descartes around the time he wrote that Paris is "the best place to study natural philosophy." This was partly because France's king at the time - Louis XIV - supported education and encouraged intellectuals to come to Paris. The use of the City of Lights as a moniker for Pairs in this context uses "Lights" in a metaphorical sense, to refer to the collection of amazing minds that chose to reside in and around the city at the time. 

To answer the question: is Paris the City of Lights or Love? It's both! Has our verdict made you feel all flipped around like the Centre Pompidou or has it made you want to take a thoughtful stroll through the Parisian streets like Audrey Hepburn? If you plan to visit Paris on what's sure to be the first of many romantic holidays to Paris, we're convinced you'll love Paris and end your trip with a Mona Lisa smile. But don't underestimate the size of the big city and give yourself enough time to make your way through Paris at your own pace, without leaving yourself like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

From the Arc de Triomphe to City Hall, love Paris and bask in the glow of the lights. If Paris is the City of Love, what’s your city known for? Let us know on our Socials @globeunltd!