Je t’aime, je t’adore, je suis single and fabulous. Exclamation point.
For couples: Valentine’s Day in Paris, what could be more perfect? Before you get too comfortable thinking you’ll go all out with a heart-shaped box of candy and giant stuffed bear, know that France has not given in to the beasts of capitalism and commercialism. Don’t fret and overspend on heart shaped jewelry to compensate: Paris is automatically romantic so the possibilities for activities on V-Day are endless. Enjoy your relationship in the City of Love with Frenchly’s list of mostly-not-cliché Valentine’s Day activities.
(Here at Frenchly, we don’t discriminate against single people wanting to celebrate S.A.D. (Singles Appreciation Day) on February 14th. Each activity listed here for couples can also be enjoyed as a single! At the end of each paragraph are recommendations for how best to capitalize on your singlehood.)
Square Jean Rictus, Place des Abbesses, 75018 (accessible for free from 8:00am-6:00pm)
Love all around the world, epitomized in 250 languages, 311 times, on the 612 tiles of a wall. “Le mur des je t’aime,” or “the wall of I love you” is the perfect backdrop for any couple-pic. The handwriting, the placement, the sense that it could be chalk scribbled on a board…so romantic.
(For singles: Sit on the bench directly in front of the wall. When couples take photos in front of the wall, make faces from your bench in the background. Fake-cry loudly. Eat chips noisily. Feign ignorance.)
Possibly the best Italian restaurant in Paris. Il Farniente is fancy but not in a stressful way, prices are affordable, portions are American-sized, and the service at their restaurant in the 12ème arrondissement is excellent. On Tuesdays, the restaurant in the 12ème is open from 7:00pm-11:00pm.
(For singles: Have a nice meal in the 12ème’s restaurant. If you’re super nice to the waiter—and chat him up a bit—he will bring you a flaming shot with a coffee bean on top and talk about how coffee beans and fire affect vodka.)
Despite the fact that padlocks represent declarations of eternal love, some consider their presence on Paris bridges to be distasteful and destructive—which they literally were. 45,000 tonnes of locks were removed from the Pont des Arts bridge in 2014, and semi lock-proof barriers were installed in their place. (Unstoppable, tourists still find places to clamp on padlocks.) So, if you’re pro-love lock, head to the Ile de la Cité where there are many bridges and railings, already accumulating locks and happy to hold one more. If you’re anti love-lock, enjoy the mostly lock-free Pont des Arts.
(For pro-love lock singles: clip on a lock that says “[Your name]+him/herself.” For anti-love lock singles: Treat yo’self to a crêpe, then take pictures of people who people who clip Love Locks on things. Tweet the photos to @NoLoveLocks.)
5 rue Crespin du Gast, 75011; (+33) 01-43-55-52-72 (Call to make your appointment.)
Even though it’s a museum, visiting it will be extra special because the little-known, no-website Edith Piaf museum takes visitors by appointment only. Marked by the sign “Les Amis de Piaf,” the museum is located in fourth flour apartment. Under the spell of her sweet song, see the personal belongings, gifts, photos, and letters of the icon of French romance that is Edith Piaf, and fall in love all over again.
(For singles: After you visit the museum, leave and walk 10 minutes to Nail Club. Pay 5€ to use their DIY manicure bar, or treat yo’ self to a full mani.)
Parc André Citroën – 2 rue de la Montagne de la Fage, 75015
Up in the air, nothing but clouds around, Paris below, and your love by your side. The biggest hot air balloon in the world, the Ballon de Paris takes groups of people up 150 meters into the sky. Buy your tickets in advance and print them (digital tickets are not accepted).
(For singles: Buy balloons. Write the names of ex-lovers on the balloons. Go to Paris’s romantic monuments—Sacré Coeur, Eiffel Tower, Pont des Arts—and destroy the balloons however you see fit: release them, pop them, give them to someone else the balloon can cheat on you with, etc.)
Roses roses roses everywhere. Roses arranged into hearts, roses with a bottle of champagne, rose-scented perfumes, roses and romance are all around at Au nom de la rose. The ultimate symbol of eternal love—an eternal rose, preserved mysteriously—is available for purchase. (See, Valentine’s Day can still be commercial!)
(For singles: skip the ultimate symbol of eternal love and go for the ultimate symbol of “I’m staying at home by myself today”—new craft supplies. La Petite Epicerie is stocked with all the fairly-priced crafting goodies and cute things you could ever want. Check out the online tutorials and get your supplies delivered, so you don’t have to leave your apartment, you recluse.)
There’s almost always a line out the door and snaked down the block to get into Le Loir dans la Théière. It’s that good. Mismatched couches, tables, and chairs fill the café, its walls lined with old art, theatre, movie posters, and an Alice in Wonderland mural, Le Loir is sure to enchant. Mid-morning is the best time to go, right around 10:00. Hunker down with coffee for a good conversation, then you’ll already be there for lunch when the line starts to form outside.
(For singles: there’s no technology allowed in Le Loir, so ditch the iPad at home. Read a used French book from Boulinier or a new English one from Abbey Bookshop, write letters to your ex-lovers, make a geocaching map, anything—it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you order a piece of lemon meringue pie.)
U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” playing in the background, your lover’s hand in yours, the city has never looked so alive. A vintage Citroen 2CV car will pick you up anywhere in the 1-8ème arrondissements, and your driver with take you on a guided tour. On the Classic Tour, you’ll see Paris’ 15 biggest monuments for 70€ per person. Reserve your car here.
(For singles: ride in the front with the driver. Use the hour to talk about how you feel about being single—it’s your hour, you paid for it, you can spend it how you want.)
Hold hands, breath in fresh air, and wander down the paths of Parc Monceau. Buy coffee and hold hands to keep warm. Admire the majestic Classic Colonnade, and Pyramid of Egypt before going to the statue of Charles Gounod, a famous French composer. Over the last sips of coffee, listen to Gounod’s Ave Maria and Roméo et Juliette (both of which you pre-downloaded to your iPhone for this moment).
(For singles: Take the leftover baguette from your apartment to Parc Monceau’s pond. If the ducks are there, feed them. If the ducks aren’t there, buy Nutella here and eat it with your bread on a park bench. It doesn’t matter anymore that the bread is stale, you have Nutella.)
Above-ground love is overrated. Head to the Catacombs, Paris’ underground bone storage (aka cemetery), for a scary stroll through the skeletons. Go after 3:00pm, when the line is shortest, and get the audio tour—it’s super spooky. It may not seem romantic, but the couple that gets scared together stays together.
(For singles: Go to the Catacombs by yourself. Don’t buy the audio tour, you won’t need it. Find a dark corner—hide in it. Make ghost sounds, whimper softly, and jump out at people. Before you leave, take a picture under the doorway inscribed with “Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la mort” (“Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead”). Post it on Instagram with the caption, “This”.)