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Photo: Jonas Holzfäller (CC-NC)
Date in a city where romance reigns!

Paris

Hundreds of metal padlocks are hanging from a fence, like charms on a bracelet, all the way down a bridge. “Cecile & Guillaume”, “F + T”, “Marie and Pedro forever”. Milestones have been added; “M + M 2008, 2009, 2010”, “Lisa & Marion, 1 year, six months!”, and maybe you will hear the click of two new hearts being sealed as you stand on this wooden bridge called “Le Divan du Monde”: Paris' greatest and most living declaration of what the city is all about: Love.

Paris is the city that made love a trademark. The only one that has established its identity on one single word. It is the city where all the clichés are so well preserved that they never really became clichés in the first place.

Still, Paris is also the only city which will make you brutally aware that you are looking for love. It can make you feel miserable – not being able to buy a postcard without having to  choose from a stand filled with fifty different ways to French kiss. However, if you can embrace the fact that you are in a place where romance reigns – and that here, more than anywhere, public displays of affection are as normal as eating bread – you might feel relaxed, even endowed with a little more self-esteem, when it comes to flirting, dating and loving the French way.

We love to kiss! Still, I have kissed men from other countries than France and I think it’s a myth that French men kiss the best.

In the area of Belleville, once the dodgy neighbourhood of Paris where Edith Piaf sang herself from the streets, the bar-packed Rue Oberkampf has become a meeting point for artists and diverse ethnicities, bringing new life to “the beautiful town”. And as they often deliver the first-date-drink, there is no one better to ask about etiquette than the French bartenders. At retro-punk bar “Le Styx” I sit down with photographer and bartender Caroline De la Giroday and her boyfriend Bruno.

hearts
Photo: Anders Burdal
Hundreds of hearts at Le Divan du Monde, Paris.

E&M: Where are the best places to meet new people in Paris?

Caroline: Rue Oberkampf is a good place to go because it’s just a long street filled with great bars. The Latin Quarter is also a good area. It’s very lively but intimate at the same time.

Bruno: In the summer evenings, a lot of young Parisians bring wine and go out to meet by the Seine, under the bridges. They play games, drink and talk. French people are very happy to get to know people from different cultures and it’s easy to meet like this.

E&M: Where is the best place to go on a date?

Caroline: To me, Montmartre, the old artist district of Paris, symbolised by Le Sacre Cœur, the city's most beautiful church, is the most romantic place in Paris. Every Parisian will say that. When you are there, you feel like you are in a different time, that you are a part of history. The Seine is also very romantic. Here, you can just walk, have a picnic, go to the bridges, and see the musicians. Especially Pont Alexandre III and Pont des Arts are very romantic bridges. But do not go on one of the Bateaux Mouches! (Riverboats where you enjoy your dinner together with a hundred other tourists – all eager to experience “real” French romance. The cost is €135! Online booking is required.). Apollinaire has a very famous poem about the Seine: “Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine/ Et nos amours”..Ha-ha, I don’t remember the rest.

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