As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought it an apt time to discuss how this holiday is celebrated in France and perhaps give you some Paris-based ideas you can use in the future to plan a dreamy escape to the enchanting city that epitomizes romance. From the cobblestone streets to the iconic landmarks, every corner of the City of Love whispers sweet nothings to couples in search of an unforgettable experience.
Valentine’s Day in France is often referred to as “La Fête des Amoureux” or “La Saint-Valentin.” The French have embraced this day of love with their own flair, combining tradition with modern expressions of affection.
Just like other holidays, the French are not about turning Valentine’s Day into a consumerist affair. While popular chocolate shops geared at tourists do create small displays and confections for the holiday, you’re not going to find an entire store aisle devoted to plush teddy bears and candy hearts like you will in the U.S.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Paris
In true French style, Valentine’s Day is approached with a sense of unhurried elegance. The emphasis is on quality time spent together rather than extravagant gestures.
Romantic walks along the Seine, leisurely café stops, and intimate moments are cherished as essential elements of the celebration.
Here are some ideas for a perfect Valentine’s Day in Paris:
1. Seine River Cruise: Embark on a magical journey along the Seine River with your special someone. As the city lights reflect on the water, enjoy a candlelit dinner cruise that sails past iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The gentle sway of the boat and the breathtaking views create an atmosphere that’s nothing short of pure romance. I recommend Le Calife for a dinner cruise that’s intimate and offers fantastic food.
2. Eiffel Tower at Sunset: For a classic romantic moment, head to the Trocadéro Gardens or the Champ de Mars park for a picnic as the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower. Watch as the city lights start to twinkle, and don’t forget to bring a bottle of French champagne to toast to your love. Pro tip: You can find everything you need for your picnic at the nearby Rue Cler market street!
3. Montmartre Stroll: Wander hand in hand through the charming streets of Montmartre, a bohemian neighborhood that exudes artistic charm. Visit the Place du Tertre, where artists showcase their work (and perhaps get a sketch done of you and your lover), and climb to the top of Montmartre for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Book a table at the Grand Salon in the Hôtel Particulier Montmartre for an ultra romantic evening.
4. Romantic Dining: Indulge in a culinary feast at one of Paris’s intimate bistros. Instead of opt for a Michelin-starred restaurant, where prices are bound to be tripled for the holiday, discover a local favorite or hidden gem in one of Paris’s charming neighborhoods. French cuisine, paired with fine wine, sets the stage for a delightful evening filled with exquisite flavors. I love Au Petit Tonneau and Le Voltaire for cozy and friendly dining establishments that offer excellent food.
5. Gardens of Versailles: Escape the city for a day and explore the enchanting Gardens of Versailles. Stroll through the perfectly manicured lawns, admire the ornate fountains, and share a quiet moment by the Grand Canal. This time of year is pretty quiet in Versailles, which makes it feel like you have the grounds all to yourself. Make your stay extra special and book a room next door at the 5-star Airelles Château de Versailles.
6. Louvre by Night: Experience the Louvre in a different light by visiting at night. The museum is less crowded, and the illuminated glass pyramid creates a magical ambiance. Wander through the art-filled halls hand in hand, discovering masterpieces in the quiet of the evening. You can buy your tickets in advance online and head through the less crowded entrance via the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre.
7. Shakespeare and Company Bookstore: For literary lovers, a visit to the iconic Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is a must. Get lost among the bookshelves, find a cozy nook, and immerse yourselves in a shared love for literature. Afterwards, take a stroll right along the Seine and find a spot to share a glass of champagne together with stunning views.
As you immerse yourselves in the Valentine’s Day festivities in France, remember that love is an art, and the French have mastered it with finesse. Allow Paris, with its timeless charm and romantic allure, offer the perfect backdrop for a Valentine’s Day celebration that will be etched in your hearts forever.