Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day will soon be here and the City of Light also carries before it a reputation as the City of Love. Paris is a favourite destination for lovers, romantics, and honeymooners with Valentine’s Day providing the perfect excuse to follow in the footsteps of famous lovers Abelard and Heloise, Chopin and George Sand, Sartre and de Beauvoir and Napoleon and Josephine, along with many more.
For those who are travelling to Paris with romantic intent, this week’s Passionate About Paris offers some ideas for romantic tête à têtes as well as the usual roundup of info, tips and what’s new.
Starting with some Valentine’s Day ideas, head up on the Buttes Montmartre to the Place des Abbesses, where the small square Jehan Rictus is home to Le Mur des Je t’aime (The ‘I Love You’ Wall). Created by Frédéric Baron, the wall comprises over 600 glazed tiles each inscribed in calligraphic script with ‘I Love You’ in multiple languages and dialects. Metro: Abbesses. Admission is free.
Some of the bridges over the Seine are home to ‘love locks’: locks of every kind from heavy duty bike locks to tiny padlocks, engraved with the lovers’ names or initials. Once fastened to the bridge, the key is thrown into the Seine as a gesture of eternal love. Take a look at the the Pont de l’Archevêché, which crosses from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Left Bank of the Seine. So many padlocks are here that they create a gleaming aura of light along the river bank.
The top of the Eiffel Tower is traditionally a spot for a superb view of Paris (and a proposal) but a less crowded and equally good view may be had from the Basilica of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, or the top of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees.
If a bâteau mouche on the river is too crowded, take a canal trip and explore the less well known parts of the city. Canauxrama offers two-and-a-half hour cruise of the Canal Saint Martin, including a commentary on the history of northeastern Paris, one of Paris’ best-kept secrets. The cruise ends at the lively and ultramodern Parc de la Villette, home to cultural activities, themed gardens and also allowing you to continue exploring secret nooks of the city.
Paris Canal offers half-day cruises on the Seine and the Canal. Sights include the Musée d’Orsay, The Louvre, and underground waterways. Tours are available in English.
Film fans can head out to La Pagode, a bijoux cinema set in a Japanese pagoda complete with a small garden.
Valentine-themed luscious freebies are available once you’ve picked up a discount card from the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, 25, rue des Pyramides (1st arrondissement) in their ‘Paris Romantique’ promotion (from February 1st to 29th)
As in previous years, Pierre Hermé chocolate and pastry shops will be giving away free goodies on presentation of the complimentary gift card. Take them to Pierre Hermé shops in Paris from February 7 to 14, 2012 to receive a tasty gift.
Special gift cards can also be presented at L’Occitane en Provence perfume shops between February 1 and 29 for gifts and discounts.
More Valentine’s Day ideas next week!
What’s on: Fans of photographer Robert Doisneau can enjoy over 200 of his photos of Les Halles, in an exhibition a the Hôtel de Ville starting on February 8th and running until until April 28th.
Les Halles was once the heart of Paris and a thriving commercial centre. Robert Doisneau was there starting in the 1930s, capturing life as it was with his camera and in the process leading an art form known today as “street photography” and revealing the genuine Paris. Hôtel de Ville 29, rue de Rivoli, 4th arrondissement Métro: Hôtel de Ville and Châtelet. Admission is free. Open: Monday to Saturday, 10am—7pm (last admission at 6:15pm)
If you (and especially the kids) only have time to visit Paris during your French trip, you can still see the rest of France in bite-sized form! France Miniature includes petite versions of French highlights. http://www.franceminiature.fr/en
Looking for nightlife? Le Satellit Café is in one of Paris’ newly trendy areas, Ménilmontant. The club plays world music from the Berber songs of Morocco to Indian sitar. Open Tuesday to Saturday inclusive. 44 rue de la Folie Méricourt 75011. Métro: to Saint-Amboise or Oberkampf
For the girls: On the first Saturday of the month join fashion lovers at Paris’s Le Bristol palace hotel for the Fashion Tea Time (Thés à la Mode) – a gourmet afternoon tea combined with a luxury fashion show by a Parisian Designer. A pricey treat at €50, it does include cake to match the designer and takes place in one of Paris’ most chic shopping districts. Hotel Bristol, 112 rue du Faubourg St Honoré (8th arrondissement). Métro: Champs Elysées Clémenceau http://www.lebristolparis.com/?q=en
And for the boys: 6 Nations Rugby Every February and March, France face their European rivals in Six Nations rugby union internationals at the Stade de France. The championship is the oldest rugby tournament in the world, having existed in one form or another for 120 years. The line up for 2012 is:
4 February: France v Italy 2.30pm 11 February: France v Ireland 8pm 11 March: France v England 3pm http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/home.php