Romantic Paris—4 places to take your Valentine

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Here are 4 places in Paris to take your sweetie on Valentine’s Day (or any day that you want to prove your love):

Le Mur des Je T’aime — In a sunny little park behind the Abbesses Metro station in Montmartre, you can affirm your love, and choose your language. Le Mur des Je T’aime, or The Wall of I love You’s, in Square Jehan Rictus, is a blue-tiled expanse where the 3 magic words “I Love You” are written in English, French, Italian, Swahili, and dozens of other tongues. Click here for a virtual visit.

Le Petit Moulin — Christian Lacroix proved his love of exuberant design when he created the 17 room luxury hotel Le Petit Moulin in the Haut Marais. Outside, the centuries-old building still bears the name of an artisan boulangerie. But inside, Lacroix has transformed the space into a decorative showplace, with kaleidoscopic wallpapers, Venician mirrors, velvet backed drapes hanging from 13 foot ceilings, leopard prints dancing with toile de jouey. A night here is a night to remember.

Bar 8 — Woo your love with a glass of champagne at the chic Bar 8, in the Mandarin Orient hotel. The fashionable cocktail lounge boasts a sleek marble bar, intimate lighting, lush seating, and more than 20 kinds of bubbly. In February, it’s an indoor urban delight. In warmer months, carry your flutes to the adjoining garden for a little piece of heaven.

Ballon de Paris — Embrace your love, and all of Paris, from the basket of a hot air balloon. The Ballon de Paris, tethered in Parc André Citroen, rises daily, weather permitting. The balloon rises to the length of its tether, surveys the city, and floats back to earth. Call before you go, to make sure flying conditions are right. 01 44 26 20 00. Now wouldn’t that be an unexpected place to pop the question?!

Where do you find romance in Paris?

Behind the Scenes at Paris by Design—Cocooning

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My husband Ken and I took the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. We made no plans. We packed no bags. As temperatures in Vermont sank to 0º and below, we hunkered down.

We turned off the wi-fi, filled the wood stove, ate long meals, read, watched movies, played fetch with the dog, and talked. It was heavenly.

I adore exploring new places, tapping into the energy of a vibrant city. And for that I’ll always have Paris.

But there’s much to be said for cocooning in winter. It’s romantic. It’s a great way to catch your breath when you’ve been going all out.

And you can do it anywhere. A few years ago, we retreated to Montreal in February. Industrious Montrealers skied and walked along the Old City’s waterfront; they skated on the frozen St Lawrence River.

We admired their spirit, then handed the keys to our snow-encrusted Subaru to the hotel valet, dug in, slowed down, and relaxed.

Cocooning leaves me feeling rested, it renews my appetite and my resolve. This year I greeted 2014 with anticipation, ready for all the new year promised.

Bonne année à tous! Happy New Year to you!

May your lives—and your getaways—be all that you hope for.

Amitiés,

Karen

Best Places to Picnic with a Water View

Late summer/early fall is perfect weather for picnics in Paris. And picnics allow you to eat great food on a budget, in parts of the city you might not otherwise visit.

Oh, and great views? If goes without saying. Here are a few of my favorite spots beside water.

At night:
Pont des Arts, a footbridge overlooking the Louvre, with views of the Eiffel Tower, is a popular evening picnic spot. You’ll see couples sharing coupes de champagne, solo travelers pulling baguette sandwiches from worn backpacks, and groups sharing multi-course dinners around brightly colored tablecloths.

Looking for something a bit more low-key? Tango fans meet on the Quai St Bernard, between Sully and Austerlitz bridges.

Lovers prefer the area around the Square du Vert-Galant, the small, charming park near historic Pont Neuf.

Midday:
Lunch at Port de l’Arsenal, the city’s harbor near the Bastille, will acquaint you with lovers of water craft. You can watch life aboard the many houseboats docked here, and even smell the smoke from their deck-top grills.

Film-lovers set up beside the Canal St Martin, near the Hôtel du Nord (102, Quai de Jemmapes), between the Rue de la Grange aux Belles and the Rue du Faubourg du Temple. The atmosphere is young, relaxed, and full of joie de vivre.