As legend goes, Saint Valentine was a priest during the 3rd century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those who had wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Saint Valentine saw this as an injustice to men and decided to defy Emperor Claudius II by continuing to perform marriages for young couples in secret. Once the emperor was made aware of this treason, Saint Valentine was put to death.
Around 500 AD, Pope Gelasius outlawed the pagan festival of Lupercalia which celebrated fertility and health. He proposed a new Christian holiday where Saint Valentine would be the patron saint, however this festival did not catch on for another thousand years or so. In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem for King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia’s engagement which is widely considered the first explicit mention of Valentines Day. Over a century later, the celebration of love surfaced again but by Shakespeare in Hamlet.
In 18th century, the valentine’s day tradition of exchanging cards became extremely popular in Britain. This tradition soon spread to America with others following suit to become the holiday that we know today of roses, chocolates and romantic outings.
As Paris is often known as the city of light or the city of love, there is no shortage of romantic outings. Saint Valentines day is not as commercial as it is in North America or the UK. It will be hard to find valentine’s cards or little heart-shaped candies that American children take to share with all of their classmates, nor do parents give their children gifts or cards. Valentine’s day in France tends to be reserved for married or young couples who are in love. Romantic couples like to express their love for each other by giving flowers or making reservations for a romantic meal or a small weekend away.
For those of you who will be experiencing Saint Valentine’s day à la française this year, or in the years to come, we have collected some of the best ideas Paris has to offer.
- Romantic Dinner River Cruise
Night time in Paris. The lights of the city are shimmering on the river Seine. You and your valentine are watching the most romantic city in the world pass by while sipping champagne.
Bateaux Parisiens offers a Valentines Day Dinner cruise, which consists of half a bottle of champagne per person, mise-en-bouche, starter, main dish, cheese course and dessert. They also have a selection of fine wines. Menus are starting at €110 per person.
2. Eiffel Tower- Skip the Line Tour
As the most popular symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is often seen as a symbol of love. Standing in line isn’t very romantic, so we recommend opting for the fast track ticket to the top of the iron mistress of Paris, leaving plenty of time to hold hands and snuggle while looking out over the most romantic city of the world. Fast track tickets are available on many booking platforms such as Viator, starting from €50 per person.
After spending some time looking out over the beautiful city of Paris, take a quiet stroll to the popular market street rue Cler. If going in the evening, the market may be starting to close up, but there is not a shortage of little bistros to enjoy an evening glass of wine or champagne. Situated on this delightful little market street is also our popular Eiffel Rue Cler apartment, which is currently on promo. Designed by our in-house design team, this quaint one bedroom property is a great place to curl up with your loved one after a intimate evening out.
3. Paris Opera
The Palais Garnier was built from 1861-1875 for the Paris Opera. The building is an excellent example of Second-Empire Beaux-Arts architecture with plenty of Neo-Baroque elements. With a wide range of performances on their upcoming calendar, one can visit a symphony concert, opera or a ballet with the national ballet of Paris. Prices are starting at €55 euros per person.
4. Champagne in Champagne
One thing is to drink Champagne on Valentine’s day, another is to drink Champagne in Champagne on Valentine’s day. Take a train from Paris Gare de l’Est and in an hour, you can be in Reims visiting some of the famous Champagne houses, tasting and touring their cellars. Most cellars offer tours in various different languages. We recommend visiting Gobillard et Fils cellars. They are located right across the street from the Abby where Dom Perignon is buried.
After coming back to Paris, head back to our Marais Charm apartment. Ideally situated in the historic Marais district of Paris and true to its’ name, this charming one bedroom apartment is within walking distance to many tourist attractions as well as near a wide variety of restaurants and boutiques and is a perfect haven to relax in after a romantic day trip in Champagne.
5. Castle Hopping in the Loire Valley
Escape the city and head off to the Loire Valley for the day. A large number of these castles are in close proximity to each other making it quite easy to visit several during a day trip. Chenonceau Château was rebuilt in 1430 by Jean Marques after being torched in 1412. King Henry II offered the château as a gift to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. The castle is most known for their extensive flower and vegetable gardens, commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, which can still be visited today.
The Château of Chambord is often known as the most popular and recognizable castle in the Loire Valley. The building was constructed by King Francis I of France, but was never finished. The château was greatly altered during the 28 years of its construction. It is accessible via train + shuttle/taxi or by car. This château is definitely not to be missed!
Only twenty kilometers away from Chambord, the neighboring Château of Cheverny has been in the same family for over six centuries. It was one of the first private homes to open its doors to the public in 1922. During the winter, the château invites visitors to partake in the Cheverny hunt, which takes place twice per week.
Regardless of what part of the world you come from, we all speak the international language of love. We’d love to hear how you and your loved ones celebrate Valentine’s day. Let us know your Valentine’s day traditions in the comments below!