Is Paris still romantic? I have to admit I’m a bit biased—having met and married Mr. Hall here—but I’ve seen the signs, and it seems Cupid still haunts the quais and rues of this love-crazed town. I’m going to tell you a true story about another couple, an English woman we’ll call Ellen, and a French man we’ll call Christophe.
Love Across the Channel I was browsing the Think Paris forum when I see a desperate question: “Does anyone know Christophe from the ***** Café?” I actually lived just down the road, so I e-mailed her and asked what was up. And thus began a long string of e-mails and international communication and confusion. Christophe worked at said café, Ellen met him on her visit to Paris, they exchanged addresses, and she wrote him a letter. She wanted to know if he had received it, because she wasn’t sure if the address was correct, it was hard to read. So I agreed to go check him out. I half expected some cocky waiter who gave his address to all of the nice foreign ladies, but when I met him, I found something else. Christophe, who had moved out of his old flat (explaining the delayed letter), was so happy to hear what Ellen had sent me, that we talked for quite awhile. His English was minimal, her French even worse, so they hadn’t spoken much, but there was “something”. This guy was clearly smitten. So I take this news back to my computer and e-mail Ellen that Christophe will write to her immediately, and try to call. She was very happy, to say the least.
Love conquers all? Perhaps I’m a cynic; love at first sight when you don’t even understand each other? Well, after many conversations with Ellen, who had to translate Christophe’s letters with a small English/French dictionary, and who couldn’t quite figure out what he was saying when he called, the two finally met up again in England. Last I heard, Christophe will be moving in with Ellen this month. Hopefully, this will be the happily ever after for our young lovers.
Live the Cliché Millions of stories like this have been the reason for the attraction of lovers to Paris. Such a persistent cliché can only be true, and it certainly won’t keep us from kissing our lover on the Pont des Arts just because there are five other couples next to us doing the same thing. There is safety in numbers, and in Paris you’ll never find anyone offended at rampant PDA (public display of affection). The French may be ridiculed for many things, but never for their ability to invoke romance anytime and anywhere.
If you’re in Paris and are looking for some of the best places to steal a few kisses, check out my article, Paris for Lovers.
If you’re not in France, but still want to catch some of the ambiance, go to your local video shop and rent any of the romantic French films (with subtitles) like “Un Homme et Une Femme”. Get some champagne and chocolates, a Françis Cabrel CD, and wear your best French lingerie. Don’t forget the perfume. It’s hard to go wrong with this combination, that goes for the boys as well as the girls! Happy Valentine’s Day!
November 2019 Update: Okay, clearly you’re not going to go to a local video shop now that you can stream whatever you want. But that also means you have no excuses whatsoever! Today I’d recommend better music: anything by the late and great Charles Aznavour if you’re into Sinatra-style crooning, or Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited for the sexiest versions of France’s bad boy rocker, Serge Gainsbourg. For films, the more recent “L’Arnacoeur” is a light-hearted romantic film starring two of the sexiest French stars, Vanessa Paradis and Roman Duris. “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” is a sweet romance with Audrey Tautou set in Montmartre and Pigalle. And if you’re looking for full-frontal French film with hilarious historical refrences and steamy sex scenes, you can’t beat the 2000 film “Le Libertin” with Fanny Ardant and Vincent Perez (and Audrey Tautou again, as his naughty daughter). Just don’t forget the Champagne, that never goes out of style. 😉
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated.