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.
Posted in Parisian Living | 1 Comment »
February 13, 2014
Be My Perfect Valentine
Paris is definitely one of the most romantic cities in the world. But with so much to do in the City of Love, it can be hard to choose how to celebrate the ultimate day of amour: Valentine’s Day. Here are some thematic original ideas to inspire your plans for February 14th, or any special Paris date night!
Start your night by slipping on your flapper-girl dress and slinking to the new Club Rayé piano bar (26 rue Dussoubs, 75002). Opened in December in a former 13th century nunnery, owner (and New Yorker) Kein Cross applied his interior design experience to create a one of a kind venue. Black and white stripes (rayé in French) are ever-present in the décor, from the comfy lounge chairs to the custom-made rayé accessories. Ideal for a before-or-after-dinner drink, sit back and enjoy the live piano music, inventive champagne cocktails and savory arancini balls.
Your evening should continue in kind, so make your way to the majestic art deco restaurant Le Boeuf sur le Toit (34 rue du Colisée, 75008). First opened at a different location in 1921, it became the after-hours hotspot of the Jazz era attracting the likes of Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie and Coco Chanel. While this incarnation dates from 1941, it impeccably embodies Les Années Folles.
Craving one more drink? Cozy in at Le Très Honoré (35 place du Marché Saint-Honoré, 75001) with its 1920s boudoir-style bar, plush sofas and seductively named cocktails such as “Bisou Bisou,” it’s the perfect late night lovers’ retreat. Read more about it here by fellow HiP Paris contributor and cocktail expert Forest Collins. Continue Reading »
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January 15, 2013
This year, you could spend Valentine’s day the way you usually do. Or you could go to Europe. No, really.
If you were thinking of surprising a certain special someone this Valentine’s Day (yes, even if that special someone is you), we would love to help. Book any Haven in Paris apartment over Valentine’s day and enjoy our special Valentine’s Day Romantic Getaway Package:
An added bonus? Come a few days early and take advantage of les soldes, the twice annual city-wide fashion sale (running until February 12).
These discounts aren’t reserved exclusively for couples. Take a group of friends and make it the trip of a lifetime! Contact us today to start planning your trip.
Images by Carin Olsson and Haven in Paris.
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March 9, 2012
To celebrate Valentine’s Day four years ago, I dined at Le Grand Colbert, the restaurant made famous by Diane Keaton and her roast chicken in the film Something’s Gotta Give. For me, it will forever be famous for far different reasons. Over clangorous dining room voices and crumb-laden plates, my husband proposed to me.
The American couple seated next to us gushed as I beamed with joy and threw my arms around my new fiancé. The fullness of the moment was heightened by the Belle Epoque backdrop and the tuxedoed waiters who dashed back and forth with alacrity between the kitchen and the dining room, forging the surreal sensation of being the stars on a Hollywood film set. Unbearably prosaic but perfectly appropriate for the moment.
Since then, we’ve maintained the tradition of dining out on Valentine’s Day. Some of our choices have been memorable, some not even worth mentioning. We flirted with the idea of returning to Le Grand Colbert last month to relive our engagement but given the caliber of restaurants that have opened over the last four years, we couldn’t be bothered with average food and contrived theatrics, no matter how emotionally significant.
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Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 7 Comments »
February 8, 2012
For those of you lucky enough to be heading to Paris this month and looking for some interesting things to do, here is a roundup of great events and general goings on. Amusez-vous bien! – Erin Dahl
February 23: Brooklyn rockers Real Estate, whose albums are consistently rated Best New Music by Pitchfork and the like, will perform at Nouveau Casino.
February 24: Pop-dance producers Simian Mobile Disco, a British duo that broke off from previous band Simian, will perform a DJ set at La Machine du Moulin Rouge.
Through February 19: Les Femmes savantes, a favorite amongst Molière’s work and a satirical criticism of the ridiculous préciosité that penetrated 18th century French salons, is showing at the Théâtre de la Tempête.
Through February 19: Chic! Une grande maison at Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine – a look into the history of Paris architecture, specifically the lovely hôtels particuliers that dot the city. Child friendly.
Through March 15: You may know Maxim’s for its resto and boutique, but they also have an exhibition space and this month “Moi, Sarah Bernhardt” is on show. Bernhardt, often thought of as the world’s first and most famous actress, paved the way for female performers to come. Now you can take a peek into her life and passion.
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February 11, 2011
Charlie Almond met a French girl two years ago at his housewarming party back in the states. Now he’s living in Paris and trying to sort the rest out. Here he shares a couple tips to help the average Joe pull one on the Jean-Pierres…
Finding love with a French woman – make sure she’s smiling before you set off after her though (Dave Bloom)
I try to fight it, but I sometimes feel like having a Parisian girlfriend has turned me into a bit of a cliché. Really though, it’s not my fault. Parisian girls are cute. Something about the way the corners of their mouths curl up when they speak French drives me wild. It’s an inviting half-smile even if they’re talking about how much they hate Belgians. So when one fell into my lap, the chase was inevitable. Now that I’m here, what have I learned?
Parisian guys are the reason why I could get a Parisian girl. Sorry messieurs, but when you look like the pilot cast for a European Jersey Shore, you’re not going to bag a classy Parisian lady. Yes, your chest hair is nice and you can carry on a conversation about hair products, but that’s not enough. Parisiennes do not like competing with their men over who’s prettier, especially if that also means fighting for shelf space in the bathroom.
Romantic evenings in Paris often start with wine, end in a blur… (Dave Bloom)
What Americans bring to the table. Let’s face it: if you’re spending time abroad, you’re probably not too stereotypical. You’re adventurous, worldly, and probably just fashionable enough to please a discerning French eye (on your good days). To the benefit of our oft-stuffy counterparts and despite our prudish national reputation, Americans are also more open and jovial socially. What’s more? We’re funny, and we all know humor goes a long way in defeating the rich, successful, over-groomed square in hand-to-hand combat. Right? Continue Reading »
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February 5, 2010
Valentine’s Day is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of holiday. But whether you’re a cynic or a romantic, single or attached, you can probably justify making room in your life for a little Parisian luxe. Kim Petyt, an American wedding planner in Paris and author of Parisian Party, has a few gift ideas for lovers and haters alike…
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