The City of Lights—or of Love, depending on who you ask—is hands down the most classic of all honeymoon destinations. Paris, France, has a reputation for being where countless love stories started, and it’s also where many move to the next level with an engagement. So it’s only natural that it should be where couples retreat after saying “I do.” A Parisian honeymoon, after all, never goes out of style.
As anyone who’s been to Paris knows there’s really no bad time to go. Sure, it’s cold in the winter, but that only gives you more excuse to cuddle up tight when you sit beside the Seine with a baguette and a bottle of wine, or more reasons to hold hands as you stroll under the Arc de Triomphe, to Notre Dame or around the Latin Quarter or Le Marais. The summer is perfect for picnics and taking advantage of the sunshine, like at the pool of the iconic Hotel Molitor. Of course, there’s also the shopping so good it could actually make you drop—and you should probably find an opportunity to play petanque, too.
While it might be hard for some to let go and just see where your stay takes you, the best things in Paris just seem to pop out of nowhere, and for that reason it’s a place where no itinerary is sometimes the best itinerary. It’s the kind of place you want to get lost, especially when exploring farther flung arrondissement (neighborhoods). Climb to the Montparnasse Tower for sunset and summit the Eiffel Tower when the mood strikes. Of course, certain things might be worth taking a look at beforehand, like museum opening hours if you are dying to spot Mona Lisa inside the Louvre, check out the Musée de l’Orangerie’s expansive Monet water lilies or gaze at Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It’s also worth making a plan when it comes to dining, especially if your eyes—or stomachs—are set on forefathers of romantic French dining like Epicure, Le Cinq and Le Jules Verne.
But an outsized budget isn’t necessary for having a candlelit dinner to remember. Cléo turns out gorgeous, refined food at less-than-outrageous prices, and the charming and dimly lit Viola is another with beautiful food at reasonable prices. If you want dinner to take you on a little ride—literally—hop on board Le Bustronome, an actual bus with a restaurant inside that allows you to see Paris all lit up as you dine. And of course there are multitudes of options on the river as well as beside it. Bottom line: It’s almost impossible not to feel seduced by the after-dark scene in the historic city.
The same goes for hotels, which are worth the splurge. Surprise, surprise—Paris is home to some of the most luxuriously clad boltholes you can dream up. The Four Seasons Hotel George V is a perfect example—it’s ornate but tasteful, bursting with the most sublime floral arrangements that seem to perfume your entire stay. (Their newer L’Orangerie eatery is now Michelin-starred, too.) Arguably less grand but no less gorgeous is Le Bains design boutique hotel, which attracted the likes of Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger decades ago and now seems the perfect solution for couples drawn to intimate hotels (it has just 39 rooms) with outsized taste—think private terraces, vintage crystal and a hammam.
No conversation about jaw-dropping hotels is complete without The Peninsula Paris, a dreamy option with some of Paris’ most spacious rooms and best views, steps from the Champs Elysées. It’s appealing enough to just stay on property—especially if you’ve booked the Garden Suite duplex with its own rooftop garden terrace—but their concierge can also book memorable experiences such as a picnic on the grounds of Versailles, 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II ride to dinner, or a helicopter trip to Champagne (remember, it’s a place, not just in your dreams!). And the legendary Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, is back after a four-year renovation that updated the building commissioned by King Louis XV in 1758 to pristine historical state-of-the-art status. Honeymooning in a glorified palace would be enough, but just imagine swimming in a pool lined with thousands of gold scales, or sleeping in a suite designed by Karl Lagerfeld. After all, you’re in Paris, but you may not want to leave the room, and that’s completely acceptable, too.