As Valentine's Day approaches, we take a seductive look at the passion and romance of a trip to Paris, writes ELLA BUCHAN
ROMANCE and Paris go hand in hand, like misty-eyed lovers strolling along the Champs-Elysees.
It's one of the locations featured in David Nicholls' hit relationship novel One Day, now a major film.
The city has all the ingredients for a loved-up getaway - promenades lined with trees and grand old buildings, museums displaying the work of the world's most famous artists and amazing food and wine.
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We stayed at the Hotel Britannique on the Avenue Victoria, where the cosy rooms are decorated in warm red and saffron tones.
It's the ideal location - tucked away on a quiet side street but right in the beating heart of Paris.
Metro station Chatelet-les-Halles is just a few steps away, with lines to all the main destinations in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.
But the best way to get around is by foot. You don't need a map to enjoy the city. Paris invites you to wander around and get lost - you're bound to stumble across a lovely little park or museum you've never heard of.
Notre Dame is just around the corner from the hotel, the River Seine is a few minutes away and the Louvre is two streets over.
With 40 acres stretching along the Seine, the Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world.
The manicured gardens are dotted with statues (many depicting lovers, of course).
Visitors to the Louvre flock to see the Mona Lisa, a painting so captivating that many have fallen under her spell and become obsessed. In 1911, a museum employee stole the painting and kept it under his bed for two years.
Now it is kept in a glass cabinet in the main museum and you have to queue for an hour for a quick peek.
If you can't be bothered with that, head to the Orangerie at the edge of the park, where Monet's ethereal water lily paintings are displayed.
You could spend days exploring the Louvre but it's worth checking out the less visited spots of the city.
The Rodin Museum displays the sculptor's work, including the entwined marble lovers of The Kiss, in his "secret garden". It's a lovely, peaceful spot away from the bustle.
The American Church on the Quai d'Orsay has two stained glass windows designed by famous jeweller Tiffany - what could be more romantic than that? But the true passion of Paris is in the dimly-lit bars and bistros, where couples talk intensely over platters of cheese and bottles of Bordeaux. We loved Les Pipos near the Pantheon.
Framed paintings are on the ceilings, the specials are scribbled on blackboards and the stairwell's banisters are glass panels filled with corks.
While we sipped a £13 bottle of Cotes du Rhone, a group emerged bleary-eyed from a wine tasting in the cellar - and promptly burst into song.
Paris is well aware of its charms, which can make it expensive. But a bit of effort and legwork reap rewards.
The Latin Quarter, on the Left Bank, is the student area where young, scruffy trendies fill the caf©s and bars. Try Caveau de la Huchette, an underground jazz bar open since 1946.
We had dinner at the cool but cosy Bar Buddha, which looks like a mini Moulin Rouge with a huge Buddha statue plonked in the middle and where a set threecourse meal costs less than £30 per person.
The food is Asian-French fusion, which somehow works - foie gras with teriyaki glaze, melt-in-the-mouth seared steak and a delicately spiced apple tart. All made for sharing, of course.
The next day we took a river cruise from just by the Eiffel Tower.
The Seine is the main artery of the city, crossed by 37 beautiful bridges - from the proud stone arches of the Pont Neuf to the pedestrian bridge Pont des Arts.
Here, couples attach padlocks to the railings and throw the keys into the river. The sunlight catches the gold, making the bridge shimmer and sparkle.
Further on, the Pont Marie is known as the "bridge of lovers".
Apparently, if make a wish it will come true. Especially if you seal it with a kiss.
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DOUBLE rooms at the Hotel Britannique start from £164 per night. To book log on to hotel-britannique.fr Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris with return fares from £69. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or call 08432 186 186.
Stay the night before at Travelodge King's Cross, just a few minutes' walk from St Pancras. A double room costs £49.95. See travelodge.co.uk
A river cruise with Bateaux Parisiens, departing from the Eiffel Tower, costs around £10 or £30 including a three-course lunch and soft drink or beer.
One Day is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray now, RRP £19.99.