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Pucker up in Paris

In Spring, "a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love", at least according to Tennyson. So why not use our guide to the romantic French capital and enjoy an intimate getaway with your loved one?

According to a doctor friend, a kiss - assuming it's the right sort of kiss - can double the heart rate, set up to thirty muscles moving, and even burn calories. According to our own research, if the setting is one of the kissing corners we've selected in this guide to Paris, you're sure to score extra points with the love of your life.

In the capital of love, the bridges, gardens and squares, the museums and even the cunningly placed street benches, all conspire to help you snuggle deeper into your loved one's heart. You don't need to explain this to him - it doesn't always do to admit the whole truth; just read our guide, make a mental map of the best spots, and when you 'happen upon' these picture-perfect settings for your romance, it won't take take much to persuade him that the universe is playing on your side in the game of love.

Among the Paris classics, the Eiffel Tower must surely hold a place of honour among lovers. It's a pity about the queues, which are a bit of an anticlimax, but that special moment doesn't necessarily need the heights, and you may find a passionate kiss in the Trocadero gardens is enough. Time flies for lovers when they're together, of course, so the lines may seem shorter; if that's the case and if your pockets are deep enough, dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant, 125 metres up, will provide stunning views - if you have eyes for anyone other than each other.

The boats on the Seine are another classic, but it's tricky to find a quiet corner with so many tourists about, so that romantic time of day, when dusk darkens the Paris skies, is better spent admiring the river from one of the bridges. Take a stroll across Pont des Arts or Pont Neuf, arguably the most beautiful and, despite the name, the oldest in the city. From the latter you can venture on to the Ile de la Cite - the heart of Paris - with its tiny Square du Vert Galant park, or maybe find a shady seat under the chestnut trees of the pretty Place Dauphine.

The Cite island is home to Notre Dame and is, again, popular with tourists, but the Pont Saint-Louis gives access to the much less busy Ile St. Louis. In total, five bridges connect to this second natural island in the Seine, including the Pont Marie, also known as the bridge of lovers, which connnects it to the Right Bank. The mostly residential island is some of the most expensive real estate in the French capital, dotted with charming bistros and speciality shops. It's a haven of calm and perfect for a quiet stroll, particularly if the weather encourages a stop at the legendary ice cream parlour Berthillon, a family run business selling glaces made with natural ingredients.

Another ideal setting for a hand-in-hand stroll must surely include such exclusive squares as the Place des Vosges or the equally aristocratic Place Vendome, with its scattering of high class jewellery stores. You may want to remember to make a trip to the bank before exploring the area though, as, lovely as the goods on offer are, the prices are as up market as the location. In Montmartre, the steps of the Sacre Coeur church in Montmartre can hardly be bettered as a picturesque frame for a romantic embrasse, though you may prefer to visit at night to avoid crowds. And if you fancy rounding the evening off with something a little racier, the neighbouring Pigalle district has plenty of risque venues to suit all tastes.

Delightful walks await you around the historic Le Marais district where streets such as rue de Sevigne, Vieille du Temple and Francs-Bourgeois are dotted with chic boutiques, gourmet restaurants and the latest in avant-garde bars. In the same district, there's the lesser-known Village St. Paul, a charming pedestrianised area of stone streets and courtyards with the air of a medieval village. Here, seven days a week, antique dealers open their doors and cafe tables are set up on the pavements. Accessible only through arched passageways, it's easy to miss, so make sure you have your bearings right as it'd be a shame to miss the chance to catch your breath at one of the terraces.

The renowned streets of the Latin Quarter can hardly be considered a secret, with the boulevards of Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel lined with famous brasseries and the constant to-ing and fro-ing; even so, it would be a sin to pass them by, or to miss the less obvious and more more bohemian atmosphere of streets such as the Rue de l'Harpe and l'Huchette.

For lovers with a taste for culture, we suggest the calm delight of the Musee Rodin and its gardens, or a nocturnal visit to the Louvre on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursday nights the doors of the enchanting Musee d'Orsay are open to visitors, and here you can admire some interesting erotic works originally designed to shock nineteenth-century society. Tickets to all three can be bought on-line to avoid the queues.

Finally, who doesn't remember Robert Doisneu's iconic Parisian photo, Kiss by the Hotel de Ville? If you pause to pucker up outside the Paris town hall, in the Hotel de Ville square, just off the rue de Rivoli, you can be assured your romantic moment will be caught for posterity by the clicking camera of another tourist - not so secret, but immortal.

PRACTICAL TIPS:
Eating and Sleeping

If the budget will stretch to it, you can't beat such luxury hotels as L'Hotel, Oscar Wilde's last home, or the sumptuous Hotel Costes. At the top of the Kenzo building, the glass-walled Kong restaurant designed by Philippe Starck is a 'clear' choice. Dinner or drinks there won't set you back an arm and a leg, though the spectacular views over the city may be even better at lunch or brunch.

Further information:
French Tourist Office and Paris Tourist Office.

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