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Two Romantic Days in Paris

The city of light is also the city of love – and a romantic weekend in Paris is enough to rekindle any romance. As one of the most visited cities on earth, Paris is correspondingly crowded, so plan a 48-hour visit carefully, booking tickets for the major attractions online. Its lovely center is small enough to be explored on foot while admiring views, meandering down the River Seine and dining by candlelight. As an introduction to the charms of medieval Paris, plunge into the bohemian backstreets of the Latin Quarter, crammed with multi-national cafés and restaurants; peep into the church of St-Séverin for its spectacular modern stained glass and take an aperitif in a cozy bar. Stop at the Cluny Museum, partly built inside a Roman baths complex and showcasing amazing medieval stained glass, jewelry, sculpture as well as the ethereal 15th-century ‘Lady and the Unicorn’ tapestries. From there, take time out in the formal Luxembourg Gardens, sweeping around the Luxembourg Palace amid flowerbeds, fountains, statuary and canoodling couples. Find a bench for picnicking on baguette and French cheese or simply watching lovers wander by. Head up buzzing, tree-lined Boulevard St-Michel to the Seine; cross Pont St-Michel to the ancient streets of Ile de la Cité and the wildly Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame. Consecrated in 1345, its exterior bristles with gargoyles and flying buttresses and its interior is awash with light streaming through delicate stained glass; climb the 400 steps up the tower for panoramic views across the city. From there, meander along the Seine’s left bank to the fabulous Musée d’Orsay in its magical Belle Epoque home. Spanning the 1840s to 1914, the museum has one of the world’s outstanding collections of work by Monet, Manet, Degas, and Renoir among many others. In late afternoon, head for the Eiffel Tower, the iconic landmark built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exhibition. For years the world’s tallest structure, the tower is 1,050 ft (320 m) high and weighs 9,444 tons. The top floor’s Champagne Bar is probably the world’s hottest proposal spot — and the romance factor ramps up at sunset with 360-degree views over Paris. Next day, reach the Louvre before the crowds. The world’s biggest museum is housed in a 16th-century palace fronted by an ultramodern glass pyramid by IM Pei and has a staggering 35,000 works of art in 300 galleries. Rather than rushing round everything, concentrate on French Romantic artists such as Delacroix and Géricault – but don’t forget to visit the Venus de Milo or the mysterious Mona Lisa — rumored to be the lover of Leonardo da Vinci. Turn left out of the museum for jewelry shopping around Place Vendome, then wander through the Tuileries Gardens and on to gorgeous Marais, once the home of Romantic author Victor Hugo and a hip enclave of medieval lanes packed with stylish galleries and intimate auberges just waiting for loved-up couples. Walk north from Marais to Père Lachaise, the world’s most famous cemetery, and spend a tranquil hour among the headstones communing with Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Frédéric Chopin. From there it’s a hop by metro to Anvers (Line 2) and a climb up to the gleaming Sacre Coeur at the city’s highest point. Completed in 1923 as a memorial to the 58,000 soldiers killed in the Franco-Prussian War, the interior of the basilica is floodlit through stained glass and dominated by a glittering mosaic of Christ in the apse. Sunset is spectacular from the viewing areas outside. Spend the evening in Montmartre’s brash but cute spiral of alleyways and enjoy a late-night supper in a cozy brasserie. By: Sasha Heseltine

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