Romance and Paris, two inseparable things that go together like black and white, Hansel and Gretel, peanut butter and jelly, and Karl Lagerfeld and fashion. For centuries Paris has been has been the inspiration for love and romance in art, culture, films, books, music, and song. Consider just some of these amazing works of art: Victor Hugo’s love letter to Paris The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Impressionist paintings of Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Toulouse Lautrec. Iconic films such as Amelie, Moulin Rouge, Midnight in Paris, and An American in Paris. The impassioned “La Vie en Rose” sung by Edith Piaf. The City of Light casts its magical spell as the romance capital of the world, then, now and forever.
When asked to write this article, I thought it would be a breeze, a no brainer. Upon assembling my list, it turns out I had at least 25 places just off the top of my head, and another 20 once I thought more about it. Debating with myself for hours on end on which to choose, I painstakingly narrowed it down to the following list.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” —Ernest Hemingway
Place Trocadero / Palais de Challiot / Café de l’Homme
Upon arriving at the first half of Place Trocadero via Avenue President Wilson in the 16th arrondissement by car, you pass a an unassuming roundabout with a statue of General Foch, the head of the French army in WWI in the center. About ten seconds later you are stunned by a killer, so-close- I-can- almost-touch-it view of the Eiffel Tower at the Palais de Challiot. The most famous monument in the world has been associated with romance for as long as one can remember. However, that has not always been the case. When Architect Gustave Eiffel won a competition for his bold iron tower for the 1889 Paris Worlds Fair, he was met with fierce opposition. Many residents complained it was a monstrosity, blocking the view and destroying the quaint architecture of low-rise buildings in the neighborhood. In fact after the tower was completed, writer Guy de Maupassant was so disturbed by the site of it, he often ate lunch inside the tower to avoid looking at it.
Today the plaza of the Palais de Chaillot, an Art-Deco cultural center built in 1937, is filled with couples kissing, brides and grooms posing for wedding magazines and catalogues, and tourists taking their best selfies. I personally have photographed a wedding couple, a man proposing marriage to his girlfriend and also a couple renewing their vows.
The secret behind the view is that it’s slightly elevated, giving the illusion the tower is straight in front of you, even though it’s about a quarter of a mile away across the Seine River. After dark, visitors gather to marvel at the dazzling light show every hour on the hour, when the Eiffel Tower sparkles with thousands of micro lights for five-minutes.
If you want to avoid the crowds and not have to fight for an unobstructed place to get your romantic photo, I recommend making a reservation for the outside terrace at Café de l’Homme, in the Musee de l’Homme. The surprisingly un-touristy restaurant has excellent cuisine by a major chef and the terrace is lined with metal chairs with white cushions, natural wood tables and white canvas umbrellas. 17 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre. www.cafedelhomme.com
“The very essence of romance is uncertainty” —from The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde