February 12, 2016
Paris, the City of Amour, is perhaps the most idyllic place to spend Valentine’s Day. But it’s much more than breathtaking vistas overlooking the Seine and its quiet cobbled passages ways. Design your own unique and très romantique lovers’ day by following in the footsteps of love on these three offbeat itineraries.
Lovers’ Road Less Traveled at the Louvre
The city’s greatest museum also contains some of art history’s greatest representations of love, abundantly found in 18th-century French rococo painting. Luckily these works are located far from the museum’s big stars, like the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, making a stroll to the second floor of the Sully wing (rooms 54 to 36) a perfect jaunt for secret lovers.
You can’t help be swept up in the amorous atmosphere of these voluptuous tableaux featuring love gods, romantic exploits, and fêtes galantes. Valentine’s own Cupid is caught giving his first kiss to his fated lover in François Gérard’s rendition of the classic tale of Cupid and Psyche (room 53). King Louis XV’s love for his mistress the Comtesse du Barry is illustrated in the large works by Joseph-Marie Vien: Greek Maidens Adorning a Sleeping Cupid with Flowers and The Lover Crowning his Beloved (room 52). The character Innocence is corrupted by Cupid in the vivid painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (room 51).
Your hearts will continue to flutter thanks to one of the era’s great masters François Boucher’s monumental Vulcan’s Forge (Room 48) or through his lovesick duo Rinaldo and Armida (Room 38). In the same room, François Lemoyne depicts another female seductress in his Hercules and Omphale, the classic hero shown here fallen hard under the Omphale’s spell. Lastly, don’t miss the delicate works of Watteau, another valiant defender of romance, at the end of the wing.
Great Lovers of Père Lachaise
Till death do us part is not the case at Père Lachaise cemetery, where love seems to last eternally. The largest cemetery within Paris’ city limits (44 hectares/110 acres), it was opened in 1804 and today contains the remains of over one million people. With such an immense number of Parisian figures, there are indeed many examples of great lovers and tracking some of them down can be the theme of your stroll.
Start with one of the cemetery’s most famous pair of lovers (and its oldest “residents”): Abelard and Heloise. The legendary medieval lovers’ remains were transferred here in 1817, and as the tradition goes, lovers or lovelorn singles should leave letters with their wishes at the crypt (division 7). As you make your way through the tiny pathways you’ll most certainly end up in the “romantic section,” the central area, which is also the oldest. It contains some of the loveliest tombs and has been classified as a national monument (mainly divisions 4-39).
Here you can find some of the most important figures of the 19th century Romanticism, like Frederic Chopin (division 11), Théodore Géricault (division 12) or Eugène Delacroix (division 49). The obscure romantic can hunt down some lesser known personages of the era, such as Marie Catherine Sophie, Comtesse d’Agoult (division 54), a French romantic author and once the lover of composer Franz Liszt, or the Comtesse Marie Walewska d’Ornano (division 67), a mistress of Emperor Napoleon, whose heart remained here in her husband’s family crypt, whereas her other remains were returned to her homeland in Poland.
The twentieth century also left some heartstruck couples at Père Lachaise. Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, who died an unfortunate early deathfrom tuberculosis at age 36, is buried with his tragic mistress Jeanne Hébuterne (division 96). Mythical French songstress Édith Piaf is buried next to her second husband, actor and singer Theophanis Lamboukas (division 97), with whom she’d sung the duet “À quoi ça sert l’amour?” (What Good Is Love?), a sentiment possibly reconciled through their relationship as their tomb is engrave with “Love Conquers All.” Not far are some of the literary world’s greats; Gertrude Stein is eternally wedded to her life partner Alice B. Toklas (division 94). And no trip to Père Lachaise would be complete without a stop at the wildest of its tombs, Oscar Wilde’s (division 89), now protected from his admirers’ kisses by a glass case.
L’Amour Court les Rues, Love in the Streets of Montmartre
Montmartre may have the “Love Wall,” but expressions of love run rampant through the neighborhoods cobbled streets. Literary; these days with a work of street artist Wilfrid’s, “L’Amour court les rues.” His slogan, “love runs through the streets,” first scrawled in late 2014 in response to a tag of “love is dead,” has now spread throughout the area with dozens of declarations on the area’s facades, benches, pedestrian crossings, construction barriers, and abandoned planks of wood.
If you come up to Place des Abbesses on Saturday February 13th from 3pm to 10pm, Wilfrid will be present, signing any material you bring with his slogan (an ideal Valentine’s gift!). Alternatively, amble through the quiet streets around Abbesses any day and you can challenge your chéri/e to see who can spot the most “L’Amour court les rues.” You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled… some are where you might least expect. Along the way you’ll find other romantic imagery, from restaurant chalkboards to chalk-drawn hearts, that can count in your contest. You can also post your finds to the “Amour court les rues” Facebook page or Instagram account.
The winner can be rewarded with some toasty hot chocolate or vin chaud at one of the area’s many cozy cafés… or some other reward for the rest of your Valentine’s Day. May it be filled with love wherever you are and whatever you do!
- Still looking for a little special something for your sweetheart? My Little Paris shares 21 cute gift ideas.
- Whether you find yourself in love this Valentine’s Day or not, these short stories are sure to warm the heart.
- When the famed love locks were removed from the Pont des Arts, a temporary installation of love-themed graffiti took its place. Take a peek.
Written by Lily Heise for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Lily Heise. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.
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February 13, 2015
There’s no question that the city of Paris exudes and encourages love, in its many forms. This passion can manifest any time of year, but it’s certainly intensified around Valentine’s Day. This year, the theme of this varied amour is explored in many of the pieces in the new anthology, That’s Paris, a lovely collection of short stories. With an entertaining forward by Stephen Clarke of A Year in the Merde fame, the 24 fun, funny, and touching pieces of both fact and fiction are organized in sections ranging from, “What’s Love Got to Do with It” to “Becoming Parisian.” In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re going to visit some of the city’s most romantically charged locations through a selection of the works from the book.
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January 22, 2015
Finding myself a single woman in Paris after 20 years of happily-ever-after came as something of a shock. Having lived decades as a Madame, I was suddenly a Mademoiselle. It took months of deep mourning before I awoke and realized that I was in Paris, it was springtime, and I was free to explore my fantasy of dating a Parisian. He’d lived in my dreams for ages, suave with an intellectual flair. He definitely wore glasses and a scarf, his unruly brown hair would be lightly greased back. Miraculously, he’d be 100% nicotine-free. He’d occasionally trip over uneven cobblestone as he geeked out, contemplating an important question regarding Nietzsche, Hegel, or Sartre.
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November 20, 2014
After 20 years of happily ever after, my husband awoke one morning in our Paris apartment a changed man, a man in a midlife crisis. Family? Non, merci! He wanted to work endless hours, have a wife without children, hang with 30-year olds. We already had two kids and I was the other side of 40. In six weeks I went from that lady at dinner parties with an adoring husband whispering, “You are the most beautiful woman in the room” to single mom-dom.
Which is how I found myself dating online in Paris. My friends in the US had warned me that online dating is a nightmare. Men want young girls, or mothers to help them with their kids, or just a one-night stand. One-night stands sounded pretty good to me; after two decades of marriage, I suspected it would do me good to play the field. So I checked out my online options.
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April 9, 2014
From lazy fall mornings spent under a cozy comforter with a steaming café crème and a rich, buttery croissant within arm’s reach, to the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower at midnight — any moment of the day in Paris has the potential for extreme romance.
Around sunset, dramatic cotton candy clouds breeze through crystalline blue skies, the Seine tinted a warm amber as it ambles by, the gold statues of the Pont Alexandre III aglow. The beauty is so overwhelming it has inspired some of art’s greatest masterpieces and countless romantic proposals.
A lot of these proposals have been happening on the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian span that joins the Institut de France, where Cardinal Mazarine’s library has been serving the reading public since 1643, to Europe’s largest palace, the Louvre. Continue Reading »
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February 28, 2014
As a single Mom of two teens, this is not the first time I’ve lived with a man. With almost half a century of life and decades of dish with girlfriends on both sides of the Atlantic behind me, I have identified some undeniable signs that there is a Frenchman in my house. He is not classically good looking, my Frenchman, but he has a magnetic attraction that pulls me in. I can’t quite describe it, and I’m not the only one — it’s why the French had to invent the expression je ne sais quoi. There are so many Frenchmen with that certain inexplicable charm that it has almost become a cliché, with quirky looking men like Serge Gainsbourg able to seduce gorgeous, intelligent ladies à la Jane Birkin. Living with a Frenchman is very much like marriage; for better and for worse.
1/ Bathroom clutter. The French are addicted to their lotions and potions. There are currently about a dozen bottles leaving water rings on the shelves, and only two or three of those are mine. When I complain about the disorder and suggest we open one product at a time, Mr French is horrified, “But, I must choose how I smell in the morning. How can you ask me to wear a citrus scent on a day that must be sandalwood, or patchouli?”
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February 21, 2013
Parisian women are so sexy and elegant. There’s no way an American girl could compete, right?
There are, of course, as many ways to snag a Frenchman as there are French men, but in my humble experience and observation, there are elements a girl should keep in mind as she searches for her Prince Charmant.
First and foremost, be yourself. I know, I know, I sound like your mom. But she isn’t totally off base here. It’s important to remember that you have something all those elegant, well-heeled Parisiennes don’t: you’re American. Continue Reading »
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September 17, 2012
Paris is for lovers. Unless you’re single. Like I was for the nearly two years I lived there. It was always a jab to my heart, like a deliberate and personally directed taunt, to see couples canoodling in dark café corners, pressed intimately together along the quais of the Seine, or just shopping at an outdoor market on a Sunday afternoon. Oh lovers, how very nice for you.
Then a year after I left Paris, I returned. With a man. And indeed it was a different experience. But as happy and, oui, sometimes smug, as I felt during that week of amour, I also realized that the old adage is true: the grass is always greener.
Every moment I basked in my City of Loooove romance was rudely followed by the memory of something I was missing from my solo days. It made me realize: no relationship is perfect. Continue Reading »
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June 27, 2011
I fell in love in Paris—such a cliché, I know. But luckily, the person I fell in love with has no tolerance for Parisian clichés, so I know this is the real deal. Could we have fallen in love in, let’s say, Detroit? Yes, it just wouldn’t have been quite so awesome.
Here’s how it went down, in case you’d like to consult my love map as you chart your own course.
Nice To Meet You: We actually met twice—first at a house party, and then a year later at one of my most-frequented bars, La Perle (made famous by John Galliano’s rant). Our next meet-ups were at Aux Folies and then at Chez Jeanette. It’s no coincidence that these are still my preferred Parisian watering holes.
First Date: Ours was on-the-fly. After a long day of wandering around Parc Monceau and the Musée Camondo, we drifted over to Café Constant, and finished the night at La Mer à Boire. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Romantic Getaway: Early on, we took an impromptu road trip to Normandy. When we mistakenly drove three hours in the wrong direction without caring one bit, we knew we were really in love. Continue Reading »
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February 14, 2011
Kasia Dietz is an American dreamer who fell in love with her Italian prince and moved to the city of light to be with him. She writes all about her travels and Parisian adventures on her blog, and sweetly offered to share her personal fairytale with us for our Valentine’s Day post. On this February 14, a holiday that seems especially significant to Parisians, Francophiles and Americans alike, we celebrate her love, your love and wish each of you a very happy Valentine’s Day. xoxo, Maggie
The dream of every girl, particularly on Valentine’s Day, is to be swept away by a Prince Charming, into a setting of eternal sunsets and romantic interludes. Does such a fairytale really exist? Not exactly. But for everyone there does exist a unique love story. It’s simply a matter of time. And meeting the right Prince.
Needless to say, I never stopped believing in fairytales.
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