(Updated July 2019)
There’s no better place to celebrate the Day of Love than in the City of Love! Simply spending this romantic holiday in Paris is enough to send most people swooning, but if you want to go the extra mile and really blow your lover out of the water, there are a number of options to choose from.
Seine Dinner Cruise
The Seine is the heart of the city, and many of the most beautiful and meaningful sites are situated along the river, so a cruise along the Seine is a great way to see many of Paris’ most lovely attractions. Although there are many options for tours along the Seine, my favorite choice is to do a dinner cruise. Floating along the Seine in a glass-walled boat at sunset sipping champagne and dining on delicious food while live musicians play classic love songs is just about as romantic as you can get. Though it might not be the best meal you have in town, it’s the ambiance and the backdrop that will really make the night memorable. Be sure to splurge on the premium tables at the front or sides of the boat to get the most view for your money. The two largest and most well-known options are Bateaux-Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens.
Romantic Tour + Dinner Combination
Although most couples celebrate Valentine’s Day by doing a special dinner out, when you’re in Paris, dining fabulously can quickly become commonplace, so you have to go the extra mile on those special days. Many tour companies offer special deals just for couples that combine romantic tours of the city, shows or attraction visits, and meals in unusual atmospheres. Viator offers a great combination that gives you a tour of the Eiffel Tower, a Seine cruise, AND a show at the Moulin Rouge (with dinner at your choice of those three locations) which will keep your afternoon and evening full of romantic Parisian experiences at a price that is reasonable for everything you get. For wine lovers, Fat Tire Bike Tours has paired up with the winner of the “Best Wine Bar in Paris” to create a romantic Eiffel Tower Valentine’s excursion with dinner and wine tasting, as well.
His & Hers
There are some sites in Paris that are undoubtedly attractive to solely one gender, and unfortunately for most couples, these sites often get skipped in favor of other attractions that are equally appealing to both mates. However, on a day specifically reserved for making the one you love happy, why not consider a “His & Hers” day that allows you both to indulge in your feminine and masculine sides? For the gentlemen, I recommend a trip to the army museum Musée de l’Armée (which features weapons and armory from the Middle Ages throughout WWII) or the science museum Musée des Arts et Métiers. Other guy-friendly options include the Catacombs, a Behind-the-Scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower that goes through the underground WWI bunker and hydraulic engine room, or a trip to micro-brewery O’Neil. For the ladies, there are a wealth of options, such as Fragonard’s Musée du Parfum, the Baccarat crystal museum and restaurant, or the Musée des Arts Décoratifs In the past they’ve had a breathtakingly beautiful Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry exhibit, as well as a gallery on fashion throughout the ages (and, conveniently enough, a Star Wars exhibit, which can keep the men entertained while you drool over diamonds – not sure the Star Wars exhibit is still there, double check). The ladies might also enjoy a spa day at the women-only Oriental spa/hammams O’Kari or La Sultane de Saba or a shopping spree at the Galeries Lafayette. Of course, every couple is different, so talk to your significant other and ask each other “What Parisian activity do you secretly want to do but didn’t think I would be up for?”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “We’re already on vacation in Paris, how can we take a vacation from our vacation?” If you’re in Paris for a week or more, you may find that you need to take a break from the bustle of the city and get away for a couple of days. Thankfully there are a lot of fantastic options that are quick and easy trips from the city and will allow you to see the other side of France. I especially recommend the Loire Valley, famous for its huge chateaux and wonderful wine. Oliver’s Travels allows you to rent out entire chateaux and mansions for your own private use, or you can choose from a number of beautiful castles-turned-hotels in the Loire Valley (I recommend searching near Tours or Angers, which are both easily accessible from Paris by train). Wine lovers may enjoy an overnight trip to the Loire, Burgundy, or Champagne regions as well, or for those hoping to add another stamp to the passport, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are close by train and have many lovely border cities to explore.
The downside to making special plans for Valentine’s Day is that you must be prepared to pay for the experience. Most restaurants and activities exclusively offer pricey “Valentine’s deals” on February 14 that are double what you would pay on any other day.
If you’d rather avoid the holiday surcharge, consider renting bicycles or scooters and taking your own tour around the city. Stop by Rue Cadet and pick up some cheeses and Bordier butter at Tabert, some bread at Maison Dupuy, and a bottle of wine at Nicolas, then head to the steps of the Sacre Coeur and watch the sun set over the city while you enjoy your own personal picnic. When darkness sets in, find some nice jazz music to finish your night.