It’s well-known that Paris is called “The City if Light” and it’s easy to understand why once the sun goes down. During the day, Paris Is a vibrant city overflowing with life. People move like worker ants along the busy streets, up and down the sidewalks, and through the metro stations. Excited tourists heading for the big attractions and determined Parisians making their daily commute. Each lend to the incredible energy that the city is known for. But at the end of the day when the sun sets, when the Parisian’s workday is done, when the Louvre and d’Orsay close their doors, a whole new Paris unfolds before your eyes.
One regret that I have concerning our trip to Paris was that we didn’t spend more time in the city after dark. We went in June where it’s still daylight at 10 PM. It was also our first ever trip to Paris. As with most typical first-time travelers we had several things planned for each day so staying out into the early hours of the morning wasn’t feasible. Now don’t get me wrong, there were advantages to the long days. We had plenty of daylight to sightsee and explore and we used that time to venture all around the city. But my small taste of nighttime in Paris revealed another beautiful layer of this magical place.
Paris is a proud city. It’s proud of its culture. It’s proud of its history. It’s proud of its beauty. That doesn’t change at night. After dark the city lights up, showcasing its beauty under an array of gorgeous lights. Whether it’s the Notre Dame Cathedral or a popular corner café, Paris under the lights offers an entirely new appeal. The golden glow of the bridges, the monuments, and Haussmann’s architecture generates a special energy and vibrancy that’s unique and different from what you get during the day. It’s hard to explain but I felt it. I genuinely felt it.
Now each of our days in Paris wound down in pretty much the same way. We spent the full day exploring the city, seeing the sights, and tasting the culture. We would then make our way back to our hotel in the 7th arrondissement to rest and freshen up before heading back out to enjoy a wonderful meal. Each night we arrived at our restaurant of choice for that evening with a little bit of daylight remaining. During our delightful 2-hour dining experiences, night would fall and Paris would light up. A whole new city greeted us each night as we left the restaurants and the beautiful after dark walks that followed were moments of our trip that I’ll never forget.
The nighttime walks in Paris are indescribable. To put it in inadequate words, you feel a deep inner happiness and a state of absolute contentment as you walk the streets of this beautiful city at night. I also felt an overwhelming sense of awe stemming from both the beauty and the realization of where I was. But there’s another component to Paris at night – a component that’s been captured over the years in movies, books, and music. It’s romance and there’s a reason why Paris is considered one of the most romantic cities in the entire world. You can’t help but feel it. In one part it’s a romantic attraction to the city itself. As you walk under the night lights of Paris, the city woos you and romances you with the sheer beauty of its appearance and culture. I was taken in. I truly fell in love with Paris during these nighttime strolls.
But the true romantic magnetism of Paris comes with sharing it with the one you love. Those after dinner walks were made all the more precious by the fact that I spent them in the company of my wonderful wife. We walked hand-in-hand down streets soaking up the culture and each other’s company. One lovely night we walked from our café in the 6th arrondissement all the way to our hotel in the 7th. Another night we strolled the Champs de Mars where we stood and let Eiffel’s tower sweep away with its breathtaking light show. I particularly remember another night where a light rain was falling. We huddled close together under our umbrella just as all the Parisians did, never letting the rain slow us down, but enjoying it. The wet cobblestones on the streets glistened under the lights and the gentle sounds of the raindrops on our umbrella only magnified the experience. It couldn’t get more romantic.
Most of our nighttime walks together were spent enjoying our new but temporary neighborhood in the 7th arrondissement. It was during these times that we gained not only a familiarity but an affection for area streets such as Rue Saint-Dominique, Avenue Bosquet, Rue de Grenelle, Avenue de La Motte-Picquet, and of course the lovely Rue Cler. And while each were amazing in their own way during the day, they showed an entirely different personality at night. Their new energy and charm was infectious and undeniable. The streets shined. The buildings glowed. The cafés burst with light and excitement. There were more smiling faces. There were more cuddling couples. Everything seemed to change when darkness fell and the lights came on in Paris, France.
We finished every single day in Paris with a slow, deliberate walk under the city’s nighttime lights. Never were we anxious to arrive at our hotel. Never were we wanting our walk to end. Such is the spell cast by the world’s most romantic city. There’s a real attraction, a seduction, that grabs you from the moment you first experience Paris under the lights. And one of my biggest regrets is that we didn’t have more time to experience it even more. But that’s one of the great things about Paris. That’s part of its magic. You never feel as though you’ve seen it all. You never feel as though you have experienced enough. Paris teases you with new pleasures. Paris winks at you and smiles. Paris leaves you wanting more. And then Paris draws you back. For the lovers of the city, these are feelings we’ve all experienced. These are the feelings that are amplified during the Paris nights. And these are the feelings that assure us that we will one return to the “City of Light”.