You’ve booked a fabulous vacation in Paris, when all of a sudden you realize you’ll be coming to the city of light and love over Valentine’s Day. Oh noooo. Maybe you’re on your own, or maybe you and your travel partner aren’t fans of this particular holiday (sappy, consumerist, expensive, cliché, bad memories…we all have our reasons!) Don’t resolve yourself to a weekend hiding under the covers, afraid to go near the Eiffel Tower for fear of stumbling upon a hundred proposals, we’ve come to your unromantic rescue!
Stick with the Locals
The French might have a romantic reputation, but it turns out that most Parisians are quite apathetic about Valentine’s Day. In fact, many are against it completely! This means that your best plan of attack if you end up in Paris on February 14 is to stick with the locals, or go where they go, and avoid the traditionally touristic spots. Our favorites are:
The charming cobbled quarter of the Buttes aux Cailles, which remains relatively undiscovered by tourists. It has a lovely, authentic village atmosphere, and is popular with students from the neighboring Cité Universitaire campus.
The bustling China Town of Belleville with its street art and urban vibe. Walk up to the Belleville park after a delicious dinner and see the lights of Paris twinkling beneath you. Ok, ok, this might be a little bit romantic, but it’s also really beautiful.
The theater district of Montparnasse. Avoid young lovers strolling hand in hand by ducking into one of the many theaters around the Gaîté district at Montparnasse and check out what’s on. Even if the shows aren’t to your taste, stop and have a drink in the luxurious theater bars and watch the world go by.
Hoping to get at least a little tourism under your belt while in town? Here are three totally unromantic must-sees for your list:
The Paris Sewer Museum. Some love it, some hate it. It’s an unforgettable – and smelly – experience, but you learn a lot about Paris’ infrastructure and history. And I can assure you there will be no marriage proposals!
The Catacombs. Another creepy experience, but most visitors love it – which explains the long queues every weekend. See Paris’ former citizens in their underground graveyard and find out about the maze of tunnels under the city’s surface.
The Parc de la Villette is a large park in north-east Paris with a kooky character all of its own. It also holds the Cité des Sciences, a vast science and technology center, and the brand new Philharmonic Hall.
You may even feel like you want to skip town altogether. If so, may we recommend a weekend in the historic Versailles, with a tour of its castle and stunning gardens? There might be some hand-holding on display, but you can always just hide behind the fountains…