In the States, Valentine’s Day starts when you’re a kid. You get those paper Valentine bags at school and exchange cheesy conversation hearts with your buddies. But in France, the holiday is almost exclusively an adult, sophisticated celebration of romance.
For the well-off couple, traveling to Paris is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but for those of us working on a… um… tighter budget, it’s also quite easy to bring a touch of France into your own plans without leaving the country.
Chocolates are also a staple of Valentine’s Day in the US, but to add a French touch to that box of candy for your sweetheart, forgo those mass-produced milk chocolates and go for something more sophisticated. Paris Voice Magazine echoes the sentiments of Frenchmen:
“For the most part, the French are purists, preferring the unadulterated bittersweet variety over milk chocolate.”
However, if bittersweet dark chocolate isn’t your thing, you could also opt for a sweeter variety that has shots of cognac, fruity liqueur, truffles, caramels, and even cocoa butter. Also check out Belgian truffles, which tend to be sweeter but just as unique.
A bottle of wine is essential to replicate the French experience. We’ve already briefly touched on the French Paradox, or how French women maintain their physique without giving up indulgences like rich food and wine. And indulge you should!
Serving a bottle of delicious Bordeaux at dinner may already seem fancy enough, but to really celebrate the French way, go all out and get a bottle of Champagne.
I recently heard that many people hesitate to buy bottles of bubbly because of how popping the cork has often been portrayed in movies. According to the Telegraph, a study by Marks and Spencer revealed that 50% of women are too frightened to open Champagne bottles because they’re afraid of the cork flying out of the bottle prematurely!
Fear no more, ladies. You can avoid an expensive bubble mess by following a few tricks I picked up in Paris:
- Let the bottle settle on a counter or in a fridge for a while after transport (the Telegraph article recommends 3.5 hours in the fridge).
- Hold the bottle in your dominate hand, a towel over the cork in the other hand in case there is some liquid
- Twist the bottle – not the cork – slowly while holding the cork steady with your other hand until the pressure pushes the cork out.
Voila! Popped Champagne and no popped lightbulbs.
Of course, an incredibly easy way to take your night to French territory is to make your date feel like you’ve actually been transported to France.
One of my favorite romantic Paris spots is the Pont des Arts, where lovers hook padlocks on the bridge fencing and toss away the key. This Valentine’s Day, think about starting this tradition in your own hometown. Grab someone you love, find a meaningful location, and lock on a symbol of your unbreakable love.
Of course if you’re not spending your evening with a romantic partner, I hear Mr. Dom Pérignon and a copy of Chocolat also make for excellent companions…
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year? Anything French inspired? Let me know in the comments!