Valentine’s Day is problematic.
Originally, it was the day a third-century priest was beheaded. Horrible, but history is often horrible. Today, February 14 is even worse. Un véritable cauchemar. These days, the more dominant person of the couple has to orchestrate a unique and memorable evening which both commemorates and defines a relationship, as well as predicts its longevity. That’s too much pressure.
I’ve had several Valentine’s Days in France, and, let me tell you, they were all disappointing. When I wasn’t coupled, I was consumed with self-pity, falling prey to all the marketing–the lovely florist windows, the adorable chocolate displays, the ads from dating apps that said ne soyez pas seul ce jour de la saint valentin. When I was coupled, the guys either loudly proclaimed their anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist sentiments by avoiding the day completely, or went way overboard and overwhelmed me with more food, gifts, and affection than they had ever shown me before. They couldn’t win. I couldn’t win.
(By the way, if you’re in a unicorn of a relationship where your chéri.e treats you lovingly every day and says, hey you wanna go out for some steak frites and toast each other for Valentine’s Day? then I rejoice for you and give you my blessing. That’s just a few of us, though.)
For the rest of us, with our love lives and our baggage and our hopes and dreams, it’s complicated.
Here’s what I recommend.
There’s love, and there are the trappings of love. Let’s leave love out of this for the time being–that takes more work than we’ve got time for. Let’s just do some trappings. That’s all V Day really is. So get your bff, or a few of them, or just fly solo, and swan about Paris with my suggestions. No lover required.
What to Do On Valentine’s Day
Visit a museum
Start at the Musée de la vie romantique. Not romance like voulez-vous couchez avec moi, romance like The Romantic Era, the intellectual and artistic movement which reached its height in 19th-century Europe, defined by love of nature, emotion, the past, individualism, etc. Think George Sand and Fredric Chopin. Think Edgar Allen Poe. L’Opéra Garnier. The Three Musketeers. The museum has lovely spaces, with exhibits on artists and writers and intellectuals, and there is a cafe where you can eat something delicious outdoors in warm weather, or in the solarium when it’s cold. The carrot cake is to die for.
Buy yourself a treat
Take yourself shopping. What have you been needing that you haven’t bought yourself? Shoes? A new white blouse to replace the one you spilled spaghetti sauce on? That book your friend said you’d love? I love The Abbey Bookshop. Git it.
If you really want to gratify some carnal desires, go to my favorite sex shop, Passage du Desir. It is tasteful and cute, and the clerks will listen to your awkward blatherings and show you a stunning variety of high-quality, user-friendly toys. You’ll leave with a discreet bag of fun. Santé!
Enjoy a drink and some music
In the evening, how about a casual, classy jazz concert with a cocktail? Go to Café Laurent for some cool vibes and ultra-Parisien energy. Drop in alone or with friends, and soak up the ambiance.
Browse the apps
If you’re still looking for some touch, you know what to do. The apps–that’s where they keep the people looking for people. Pick your pleasure, but remember–all romances start with a first date. Don’t put too much pressure on that first encounter. You’re in charge.
Am I a grouch for not upholding the modern values of Valentine’s Day? Maybe, but this isn’t my first rodeo. Love isn’t locks on a bridge (please stop, the weight is killing our bridges), or the perfect dinner, or diamonds, or roses. Love is something you already have, with your family and friends and community. Celebrate the love you’ve got on February 14, and let the rest of the universe unfold as it should.
Musée de la vie romantique – 16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris
The Abbey Bookshop – 29 rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris
Passage du Desir – 23 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75001 Paris
Café Laurent – Hotel d’Aubusson, 33 rue Dauphine, 75006 Paris
- More from the author: What I’ve Learned Dating Older French Men
- Need some shopping help? Here are some awesome Valentine’s Day Gifts from France
- How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in France?
Written by Yvonne Hazelton. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.