Anyone who’s seen the eponymous film will know of Paris’ long-standing connection with perfume, which was at its height in the 18th
century but has continued to the present day – the city is considered the fragrance capital of the world and there are more boutiques devoted solely to smells than anywhere else. Perhaps one of the best-known scents associated with Paris (and indeed France as a whole) is the celebrated Chanel No.5; wander through the city streets and you’re likely to get wafts of it as you pass another belle dame française...
There are two distinct areas of Paris as far as perfume is concerned: the Latin Quarter, where modern and quirky perfumers have set up shop, and the Right Bank, where established names including Chanel and Guerlain attract visitors to their flagship stores. Paris’ Grand Musée de Parfum opened in December 2016 on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and gives visitors an amazing sensory experience – and if you feel like splashing out, there are several places you can go to have your own personal bespoke perfume created, including L’Artisan Parfumeur, Le Studio des Parfums and Parfum sur Mesure.
Ever wanted your portrait painted? The ancient Place du Tertre in Montmartre is a famous meeting point for artists to sketch, paint and display their work, and it’s a fun (if crowded) place to wander around after lunch in a nearby bistro. In the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo lived here, but today the artists set up their easels primarily for tourists. Take your time to examine the work of each artist before you choose who to commission – and be prepared to negotiate your price before the work begins. After a patient sit, your portrait will be a cherished souvenir of your stay in Paris and could make a truly romantic gift from one of you to the other.
Where would romance be without chocolate? Paris has the largest concentration of chocolate shops of anywhere in France, and the French have elevated the craft of chocolate-making to an art form, so you’ve come to the right place to indulge your senses. Walk into any pâtisserie or chocolaterie and let your nose fill with the seductive aroma of chocolate, whether it’s from velvety ganache, feather-light truffles or freshly baked pains au chocolat. At this time of year, most boutiques will have special Valentine’s-themed displays to browse. And chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) is one of France’s favourite hot drinks, blowing the English version out of the water with its thick, molten sumptuousness. Many claim that Angelina on rue de Rivoli serves the very best. Profitez bien…
The Île de la Cité is full of surprises! Located on Place Louis Lépine between Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle, Paris’ flower market has been attracting avid gardeners and curious passers-by since 1830. Both covered and open-air, the market is mainly housed within 20th-century pavilions and its scented selection is vast, with everything from seasonal flowers to exotic species and shrubs. This is a beautifully fragrant and romantic place for a walk.
There are two other flower markets in Paris: at Place de la Madeleine (open every day except Sunday, 8am-7.30pm) and at Place des Ternes (open every day except Monday, 8am-7.30pm).
Salon International de l’Agriculture
If you and your loved one are looking for a more unusual day out in Paris, try the Salon International de l’Agriculture at Porte de Versailles from 25 February to 5 March 2017. This annual agricultural show and trade fair attracts thousands of visitors with purebred livestock, crops and plants, culinary products and agricultural savoir-faire. Taste award-winning specialities, admire impressive animals and talk to experts in the industry… and it will smell as though you’re on a farm deep in the countryside!