Romance in Paris

Hello – Emily here! 

Whether single or in a relationship, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. My favorite color is pink, it reminds me my birthday is around the corner and if nothing else, chocolates and champagne will soon be on sale.  I was single on Valentine’s Day every year until I turned 29, however I never felt alone and I never failed to celebrate in my own small way, usually with pink champagne and heart-shaped Neufchatel cheese

The first year I was in a relationship on February 14th, instead of a romantic dinner-a-deux I decided to spread the love and organized (and cooked) a pop-up dinner for 47 guests. It was a huge success, measured by the flurry of new relationships which started that night, in a utilitarian warehouse in East London. My boyfriend on the other hand was no help, though; he got drunk and threw little potatoes at the guests as they left. 

My husband and I met on a dating app, where we were both looking for love, while I was living in London and he was living in Paris. We chatted for months before he came to meet me for the first time, and it was a coup de foudre (love at first sight). Within 3 months of our first meeting I had moved to the City of Love and we began planning our future together. 5 years and 3 children later I still remember fondly the first night I spent in Paris (photo from that night above). He took me to Monsieur Bleu, an incredible restaurant down by the Seine, underneath the iconic Palais de Tokyo. We had champagne, the Eiffel Tower lit up, and I ordered a shrimp salad that was impossible to eat gracefully, so ate as much as quickly I could, while he was in the bathroom…and politely pushed the leaves around for the rest of the appetizer course.

I have learned not to expect over-the-top displays of emotion from him, but rather to notice the many small ways he expresses his love every day. When I started writing this article I asked him for some romantic suggestions. “Um… go to the Eiffel Tower?” he replied, looking scared. I think he’s out of ideas, having used up all his good ones over the last five years as he has slowly shared with me some of the most romantic parts of the city.

We visited the Musee Rodin in late Spring, when the rose bushes are at their finest. With the Eiffel Tower in the background it is the perfect way to spend a warm afternoon. Passing by the iconic sculpture The Kiss, we meandered through the 3 hectares (approximately 7 acres) of sculpture gardens before taking the obligatory ‘thinking’ photo underneath The Thinker.

We sat quietly in Sainte-Chapelle, taking in the beauty of the magnificent stained glass windows at dusk while enjoying one of their classical music concerts. This is top of my list to do again once “things go back to normal.”

Shortly after our wedding we visited Versailles and while the palace is remarkable, my outstanding memory of the day was renting a little rowboat on the Grand Canal and paddling around for an hour, enjoying the laughter and light conversation drifting across from other matelots (sailors). A romantic cliché if ever there was one…and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

(photo by Kelechi Anna Photography)

Something else I never thought I would recommend, but after doing it myself I now rave about, is hiring a photographer to capture some special moments while you are in Paris. I anticipated feeling terribly embarrassed but each time I was quickly at ease and the photos we have (we have done this twice now, after the birth of our two youngest children) are treasured. There are many photographers to choose from and most offer a quick one-hour session. Janelle, Gabi and Krystal all come highly recommended. We worked with Kelechi who was amazing (and took the photograph above) but she has since moved to Iceland!

Food is my love language. I have never completed a meal without already knowing what or where I am going to eat next so I couldn’t write about romance in Paris without mentioning L’Arpege, where my husband proposed. The service was impeccable, the food was extraordinary and chef Alain Passard was charm personified. I wouldn’t say the décor is particularly romantic, but for me it shimmers with the promise of love. I should mention that the prices are apparently staggering – although I wouldn’t know for sure as usually only the guest who booked the table (in this case my husband) gets a menu with prices. I do have the receipt tucked away somewhere but I have never been game enough to look at it. One day I will find it again and frame it.

For a restaurant with the most romantic setting in the world look no further than Jules Verne. This Michelin starred restaurant can be found on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower. A truly elevated (sorry) experience that you can reflect back on for a lifetime. If you would prefer to gaze at the Eiffel Tower while dining, rather than sitting in it, the terrace at restaurant Girafe, tucked behind the Cité de l’Architecture, has possibly the best view in all of Paris. I’m sure they’ve lost count of the number of marriage proposals that have happened there. 

Other romantic and wonderful restaurants that all hold a special place in my heart include (but are not limited to!) Verjus, Frenchie Wine Bar, Bistrot Paul Bert, Ellsworth, La Buvette, La Cuisine de Phillipe, Alcazar, La Crèmerie, L’Ami Jean and Allard. Each with their own charm (and price bracket), they represent a mix of the very best that Paris has to offer and I hope you have the chance to visit them all.

But the most wonderfully romantic Parisian experience is not in a restaurant at all. Strolling along the Seine in warm weather, picnic basket in hand, is one of the finest pleasures in the world. There is nothing better than knowing that you have a bottle of cool crisp rosé, a simple jambon beurre baguette and perhaps some fresh cheese or a tangy raspberry tart to enjoy as soon as you find the perfect spot. That spot is Square du Vert-Galant, on the western end of Île de la Cité. Sitting there under the weeping willows, legs dangling above the sparkling water is something you will remember forever. When a swan glides by it is almost too much beauty to take in.

Although my husband rolled his eyes when I strung up our Valentines decorations on the weekend, I did happen to catch him adjusting them when he thought I wasn’t looking. This year we will be staying home and to get everyone (mostly him) in the spirit of love, I’ve ordered pajamas for the whole family. The kid’s ones are from Petit Bateau but these look cute too.

We’ll start the day with some Rouge in Love tea from Mariage Freres, a red rooibos gently scented with rose petals and vanilla, alongside fluffy ricotta pancakes and Bonne Maman raspberry jam. I will visit the local market on Saturday and buy salty, truffled brie, scallops fresh in their shell, shiny red radishes, thick steaks marbled with fat and whatever other fresh fruit and vegetables that take my fancy to create a special dinner, and a bunch of bright pink tulips to decorate the table. 

I have a bottle of Ruinart champagne that has been chilling in the fridge patiently while I completed dry-January and we will start the evening with a City of Light cocktail from David’s archives.

My daughter is in charge of dessert – she is currently working her way through Mardi Michels’ book In the French Kitchen with Kids and we recently made this showstopper together.

To mark 5 years living together I bought and framed an adorable Babar print from the bouquinistes down by the river Seine for my husband and I’m planning an adults only weekend in the Champagne region in the (distant?) future. We need things to look forward to and imagining strolling among the vineyards, holding hands, will easily keep me chugging along through the next few grey months at home. He will give me the best gift of all, a few hours of extra sleep while he wrangles les enfants (the children) on Sunday morning.

If you are looking for a last-minute gift, for a loved one or yourself, I have put together some suggestions below. Or if you want to give your loved one a really special treat this year, I hear Ladurée is for sale

Diptyque have released a limited edition of their iconic rose candle. Is there anything more romantic than a cozy home smelling like a thousand roses? If you can’t come to Saint Germain, bring Saint Germain to you.

For heart shaped food, look no further than the Valentine’s cheese platter from fromages.com. A selection of cow and goats’ cheese (shaped like love hearts of course), with a sweet treat of chic fruit pastilles for dessert, this platter seems like the perfect choice for a quiet night in with a celebratory bottle of champagne.

Speaking of champagne, K&L Wines have 164 champagne options, as well as copies of Drinking French. If you are based in Paris, Benoit at L’Extra Brut in the 9th arrondissement comes highly recommended for his selection of champagnes from smaller producers. And what better to drink it out of than some vintage glassware from Madame de la Maison.

Chef Nicolas Cloiseau at La Maison du Chocolate has drawn inspiration from Paris, “the city of love and light” for his Valentine’s Day collection.  In his Paris Blue Hour Heart Bouchée he unveils four recipes bursting with the emotions of love.

I have this adorable print from Riley Sheehey hanging in our apartment and it brings me such joy. On the theme of love you can’t go past these swans sipping champagne, or if you just want to be left alone this year, how about please leave by 9?  She also has a collaboration with Hibiscus Linens, should you wish to show your love by stitch.

For Parisian prints and original watercolors look no further than Parisian Postcards, for a reminder of your personal romantic places in Paris. 

(photo by Molly Wilkinson)

La Cuisine de Paris, Molly Wilkinson, and Cook’n with Class all offer a selection of French online cooking classes which would be the perfect Valentine’s Day activity or gift. Learning a new skill with a sweet reward afterwards? What’s not to love.

Can’t make a class? Red velvet NYC can ship pre-measured gourmet baking kits, including orange blossom madeleines. Already have everything you need? Then try David’s madeleine recipe. We made it last weekend and it was a hit.

Maison Flaneur are selling these iconic wine glasses from Hotel Amour and I have already decided I will be gifting these to all the couples I know who get engaged in future.

I think it might be illegal to write an article about romance with a French twist without mentioning Le Creuset. Their selection of heart shape cookware, including the love heart ramekins, is on every Valentine’s Day gift list for a reason. 

For something that will last a lifetime, Flore, of Maison Flore, sources local refined vintage monogrammed sheets, linen, laces and collars and reworks them with new embroidery and high quality fabrics into new garments. Inspired by her grandmother’s work, they are 100% made in France and Flore herself sews every item for you in her workshop-boutique in the Marais area of Paris.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope that there will be love in your life on Valentine’s Day and every other day. I would love to hear your most romantic Paris stories in the comments below or on my Instagram page.

Emily

Romance in Paris

75 comments

  • February 11, 2021 3:40pm

    What a lovely post! It made me yearn for Paris even more than normal! Thank you for sharing, Emily :) Reply

  • Janice R.
    February 11, 2021 4:23pm

    So much to love in this post! I spent a lovely half hour reading it and checking out all of the suggested links . Just beautiful! Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 10:37pm

      Thank you – so kind of you! Emily Reply

  • February 11, 2021 4:53pm

    This year has been difficult for most of us, this article brought me many happy moments reading it, and longing to see my favorite city. Thank you for transporting me for a while. Reply

    • Julie
      February 12, 2021 1:01am

      A lovely post! Am reading a new book of letters between Julia Child and her husband Paul, of their coming to Paris and the life they lived there. So evocative of a life lived well in this wonderful city. Reply

  • Kathleen
    February 11, 2021 5:08pm

    Shoot me now. Reply

    • Sally
      February 11, 2021 7:54pm

      Yup that about sums it up Reply

  • Kath
    February 11, 2021 5:19pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed Emily’s article can I share it with a friend who lives in Paris?
    Thanks Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 9:54pm

      Hello – yes please do share it! Hope they enjoy it. Many thanks, Emily Reply

  • Angie C
    February 11, 2021 5:21pm

    Wonderful post, Emily! I so miss our annual trip to Paris! Your post gave me a much needed vicarious visit, merci!! Reply

  • Joan Munger
    February 11, 2021 5:23pm

    What a mood lifter. Thank you Emily. I have visited Paris once. And, once is not enough. This post makes me wish I could blink and be there. One can dream. Reply

  • Bob Calhoun
    February 11, 2021 5:28pm

    Are you trying to make us jealous? If so, you succeeded! Reply

  • dana
    February 11, 2021 5:34pm

    What? Laduree isn’t allowed to close! Noooooo…. (the rest of the article was wonderful, but my heart breaks) Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 10:38pm

      Hopefully if it is sold it will be to great new owners that want to keep it open! Fingers crossed. Emily Reply

  • Diane
    February 11, 2021 5:35pm

    What a beautiful post! On one of our early trips to Paris, we listened to a string quartet play Vivaldi in Sainte-Chapelle and that memory has stayed with me always. Oh, how I miss Paris! Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 10:40pm

      Yes they still do that and often play Vivaldi – hope you can get back to Paris, and Sainte-Chapelle soon! Emily Reply

  • Jaimie
    February 11, 2021 5:39pm

    I can see from the comments that I’m not the only one touched by the happy spirit of this post. Thank you for it. Reply

  • Nfonca
    February 11, 2021 5:39pm

    Lovely post!
    Question: is Ladurée for sale, or, is there a sale on at Ladurée?
    I can’t imagine a better Valentine’s Day gift than a giant red ribbon around the Ladurée storefront! Reply

    • February 11, 2021 6:09pm
      David Lebovitz

      Ladurée is indeed for sale. I haven’t seen much discussion about it in the English-speaking press but it’s been in the French press. Reply

  • John
    February 11, 2021 5:44pm

    “My boyfriend on the other hand was no help, though; he got drunk and threw little potatoes at the guests as they left” – glad you got rid of him! Reply

  • Evelyn
    February 11, 2021 5:45pm

    So charming! Lovely photos, as well. Thank you for the much needed spirit lifter in these bleak times:-) Reply

  • Pat
    February 11, 2021 5:49pm

    Thank you so much Emily, you brought back so many wonderful memories. Paris will be our first post pandemic holiday for sure Reply

  • Kara
    February 11, 2021 5:57pm

    I lived in Paris for 2 years when I was a 20-something singleton and miss it dearly! Thank you for this lovely post! Reply

  • Karin Pereira
    February 11, 2021 6:06pm

    Emily, you just put joy and optimism back into my day/life. What an absolute sweet commentary. It fits all perfectly well with the other love couple, David and Romain. SWEET can’t even describe it. Thank you. Reply

  • Lou
    February 11, 2021 6:17pm

    Your mention of Mariage Freres reminded me of why I told friends I was going Paris! Their Black Orchid tea is superb, unfortunately a walk to three locations yielded none ( it must be quite popular) but I didn’t walk away empty handed – 4 tins of delicious tea went with me back to London & further afield to the west coast of Canada. This was a few years back & another trip, with more time to spend in Paris & surroundings is on my bucket list.
    Thank you for tweeking the memory bank for me. Reply

    • Claire
      February 11, 2021 9:11pm

      I ran out of my MF French Breakfast tea a few months ago. Given we can’t be there to shop in person I ordered some online to Canada’s west coast; a splurge but it helps to ease the pain of no travel to Europe right now! Reply

      • Lou
        February 11, 2021 10:28pm

        My daughter & I have thought of that but I’m on the Sunshine Coast so not sure about the cost of shipping it up here. might be as much as the tea itself! There used to be a cafe in Park Royal that sold the teas (not the Black Orchid tho). Reply

  • Carla
    February 11, 2021 6:22pm

    Beautiful Reply

  • Nanci Courtney
    February 11, 2021 6:22pm

    Just lovely! Reply

  • February 11, 2021 6:23pm

    Your posts are so lovely Emily, thank you so much for this special valentine edition! We can all dream of a time when visiting your special places is possible. Reply

  • Elizabeth
    February 11, 2021 6:34pm

    Thank you, Emily, for sharing all of these wonderful suggestions. For those of us unable to visit Paris at this time, it’s a delight to be able to dream about future trips. Have a delicious Valentine’s Day celebration with your family. Reply

  • Karen
    February 11, 2021 6:41pm

    Really enjoyed your post, Emily! For a moment, I was back in Paris. Happy Valentines Day! Reply

  • Sandra H.
    February 11, 2021 6:41pm

    A lovely post and great photos! I’m reading it in parts to savour the charm of Paris that you’re sharing. Reply

  • Kathy
    February 11, 2021 6:45pm

    Yes, lovely. When I started reading this, I thought David had written it. Read: Favorite color is PINK! I thought, damn, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard a man say their favorite color is pink.

    David, what is your favorite color? Reply

  • Marianne McGriff
    February 11, 2021 7:11pm

    Emily,
    Merci, merci, merci
    A positive Covid test in my daughter‘s classroom is preventing my husband and me from a visit this weekend. I was feeling SO sad and your post uplifted my spirits knowing that this season is momentary and there will be many more opportunities to LOVE our families.
    Blessings on your weekend,
    Marianne Reply

  • February 11, 2021 7:22pm

    Just a moment ago I sent a letter to a friend in Paris.We are missing our annual trips to Paris.So happy to read little stories of Paris and the food.Whenever there, we would try out some of restaurants David recommend. Dragging some friends along.Always an adventurers as some out of the way. Happy memories! Reply

  • Marie Raquel de Almeida
    February 11, 2021 7:23pm

    What a heart warming post! And who says that love in lockdown is dead? Thank you David! Across the Channel there’s is only this pandemic and the vaccination charts. Love is alive in Paris so, there’s hope for humanity!! Reply

  • Elizabeth R. Austin
    February 11, 2021 7:44pm

    Exquisite elegant writing. Reply

  • Kathleen Woods
    February 11, 2021 7:45pm

    Merci, Emily! I just shared all this with my husband, to celebrate memories we’ve shared at many of the places you mention and to dream about the places we hope to one day visit. This is exactly the uplifting message we needed. Reply

  • KATHY
    February 11, 2021 7:48pm

    Just lovely! Felt as if I re-visited Paris through your article! Loved some of the links especially the watercolors. Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️ Reply

  • February 11, 2021 8:12pm

    What a lovely, fun post. Thank you Reply

  • B. Stovall
    February 11, 2021 8:16pm

    Emily, your article and photos are quite the treat, thank you. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to see Paris through your adventures, and, selfishly, to have a small peek into your life. Clearly you are an important part of David’s life and work. Quite the team, you two! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your family. Reply

  • Angela Knapp
    February 11, 2021 8:37pm

    Lovely post! Balancer for our -24celsius here in Laurentian hills, just north of Montreal. My memories of Paris are many, thank you for the reminiscence..yes I would love to be present there again Reply

  • Michael L
    February 11, 2021 8:37pm

    I too loved this post as it makes me long to be in Paris again. I have to confess though that I did not immediately grasp that it was Emily who was writing and found myself increasingly shocked that I was unaware that David and Romain had three children! How had I missed this fact for the last ten years?? It just goes to show that assumptions can blind you to the most obvious things like Emily’s picture at the beginning of the post. Duh. Thanks again for lovely pics of Paris Reply

    • February 12, 2021 7:31am

      I also thought it was David writing :-) Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 10:45pm

      You aren’t the only one :) Reply

  • Marjorie Berger
    February 11, 2021 8:37pm

    What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful life. You’ve made me dream Reply

  • dotti m Cahill
    February 11, 2021 8:55pm

    Wow it made me see Paris in a new light!!! Merci Reply

  • Helen Christenson
    February 11, 2021 9:16pm

    I have never been to Paris. However, after reading the post from Emily, it is the most intriguing lure to visit Paris ever. Reply

  • Carol
    February 11, 2021 9:38pm

    Thank you for this, Emily! It made my day. Like so many others we were unable to keep our plans for France last year. This gave me something to dream about until we can go again. Reply

  • Beth
    February 11, 2021 9:41pm

    I thought I was going to Paris this past October, but your lovely article, Emily, Has given me some new ideas. Once I spent a week in Versailles, where I really saw the Palace and there were few tourists. I took the train down to Chartes to visit the Cathedral and on Sunday I took the train into Paris for the day. It was a heavenly solo trip. Reply

  • Molly F. C.
    February 11, 2021 9:46pm

    I celebrated my 30th birthday with lunch at the Jules Verne.
    It. Was. Spectacular. Reply

  • Sue R.
    February 11, 2021 10:13pm

    Merci beaucoup Emily for a beautifully written article. J’aime Paris!! Reply

  • Annemarie
    February 11, 2021 10:44pm

    Thank you, Emily, for the lovely post. I hope to return to Paris someday SOON, and when I do I’ll refer to all your recommendations. It’s always Valentine’s day in Paris! Reply

  • Megan
    February 11, 2021 11:20pm

    What a wonderful post. We were meant to be in Paris this past April a big trip for us coming all the way from New Zealand. Sadly yet to be, but on the plus side more time to plan and look forward to some amazing experiences. Thanks for the wonderful recommendations! Reply

  • Agneta
    February 11, 2021 11:22pm

    Beautiful! Reply

  • Gigi
    February 12, 2021 12:02am

    Emily, lovely lady, reading this warmed my heart, and made me long to visit Paris again! I so much enjoy your writing! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your delightful family! Reply

  • Hope Anderson
    February 12, 2021 12:53am

    What a charming article! Your ideas and photos are lovely Reply

  • Kerrie Cresswell
    February 12, 2021 2:01am

    We don’t celebrate Valentine’s but after reading this post will make an effort this time. Reply

  • MonicaK
    February 12, 2021 3:43am

    This article makes me so sad as I was planning on taking my kids to Paris for the first time last summer. I did expose them to some of the goodies from France by taking them to places like Maison du chocolat and Laduree in NYC but I wanted to take them to the ones in Paris!
    By the way, my 8 yr old daughter says Eiffel towel is the most romantic place in Paris so your husband shouldn’t be scared to mention it. =)
    And why, oh why do even tulips looks fresher and better in Paris? Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 10:47pm

      I am sure they will love it at any age! Hope you can do your trip soon. Reply

  • February 12, 2021 5:44am

    What a lovely post Emily.Thank you! I pinned it so that I can have it the next time I visit Paris. Reply

  • Michelle Oie
    February 12, 2021 6:12am

    Your lovely writing style is a joy to read. What a grand life you’ve had.
    Lucky David gets a break from the newsletter! Reply

  • Kirsten A
    February 12, 2021 6:33am

    Thanks for sharing your memories. What is the last piece of art on the post? The black and white picture showing the two…mice from the back looking out into the night? Reply

    • Emily Cunningham
      February 12, 2021 10:54pm

      Hi Kirsten, it is a print from an old ‘Babar the Elephant’ book that I bought from one of the book/art/trinket sellers (bouquinistes) down by the Seine. It’s a series of children’s books and the image is of Babar and his wife Celeste. I can see how you might think they are mice in that drawing with no context! Reply

      • Kirsten
        February 12, 2021 10:56pm

        That’s so funny–I thought, “Is that a Babar drawing? Hmm, those ears look more like mice than elephants…” I loved the Babar books! Thanks– Reply

  • Tricia Robinson
    February 12, 2021 6:48am

    Mille mercis Emily! As a francophile confined in California it almost took me back to Paris and France. So many places I miss, so many to hope to visit again. Thanks to David for sharing these memories. Reply

  • February 12, 2021 7:29am

    I will need time to read this again, wonderful tips and stories! Thank you for sharing :-) Reply

  • Emily Cunningham
    February 12, 2021 10:56pm

    Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who left a comment, they really warmed my heart and I have read each one! Emily Reply

  • Donna D
    February 13, 2021 8:24am

    To the real Emily in Paris
    Even the postage stamps in France are attractive (trust the French)….
    Merci for the gorgeous photos and story….it made my longing for Paris just a little easier to bear…
    Off to read it again for the third time…sigh
    From the real Donna in Brisvegas x❤️ Reply

  • Michelle
    February 14, 2021 4:37pm

    What a wonderful post. I’ve a trip booked to Paris with my boys in June and I’m crossing my fingers that all will be well enough to visit by that time (coming from the US). I had never thought of hiring a photographer to capture the memory! What a beautiful idea. It would be the very best memento that we could take back from our trip. Thank you so much for your recommendations! All of your posts are lovely. Reply

  • Fran Stewart
    February 15, 2021 3:31am

    Well Emily, you inspired me once again. “A Socially Distanced Christmas in France” moved me to see the joy in the Christmas season and continue my favorite rituals even though I would be missing my husband who had passed at the beginning of the year.
    I was willing the let this Valentine’s Day pass me by, but after reading “Romance in Paris”, decided that I would prepare Chicken La Tulipe, have a glass of champagne or two and listen to my favorite music. The evening was fabulous!
    Thank you once again for your inspiration! Reply

  • Su Su
    February 15, 2021 3:24pm

    Thank you, Emily. Lovely post. Ruinart is my favourite champagnes that is not usually available in Sabah, Malaysia.I bought my first bottle on my first visit to Paris. It was lovely. Reply

  • Amy
    February 18, 2021 9:14pm

    What a wonderful post Emily! I miss Paris so much! It gave me enormous joy to read about places we went on our first trip together. We frequently talk about our next trip, whenever that will be, so we can find the great secret spots. Thank you again for memories and the hope of new ones! Reply

  • Sue Holtham
    February 20, 2021 7:55pm

    On our 1st anniversary In 1998 my husband surprised (yes) me with a trip to Paris. He had been there before, my first time. Told me about it in limo to airport. We have been to Paris twice since then. Seeing your pics brought back the memories of seeing all the beautiful sights for the first time, including memories of all the incredible food and wine! Reply

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