Valentine’s Day in Paris… Love in the City of Love!
Social media is overflowing with Parisian romance - you know, the steamy, dreamy images of the couple just waking up, in bedsheets, and looking out at the Eiffel Tower over a perfectly laid out (usually American sized) breakfast. But what is Valentine's Day in Paris really like? Let's take a P'Niche peek and find out...
Bien sûr - let's start at the beginning...
What modern times sees as a day filled with chocolates and roses, started as a Christian holiday, honoring the martyrdom of Saint Valentine.
And... wait for it... There was more than one "Valentine!"
Yep! The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus (martyrs, all three).
Who says you should only have one Valentine? P'Niche is offering you three for the price of one!
Our first Valentine comes during the time of Emperor Claudius II, who decided that single men made for better soldiers than those with wives and families to care for. Thus, the emperor outlawed marriage for young men.
Roman Valentine, of course, realized how unjust this outlawing was, and continued to perform (secret) marriages for couples and lovebirds, hoping to sanctify their union.
What could go wrong?!
Well, Emperor Claudius II found out about the marriages, and he set the order that Valentine of Rome be put to death.
Wait for it...
Others believe it was another Valentine, Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop - who also continued to perform marriages.
Many insist that it was the actions of Saint Valentine of Terni (also put to death under Claudius II) who is the actual namesake of the holiday...
Valentine #3 - you're off the bench!
Many believe the holiday is named for one Valentine, who was helping Christians escape Roman prisons and religious persecution.
Legend states that this Valentine fell in love with the jailor's daughter (who visited him during his imprisonment). He would send her love letters signed "From, Your Valentine." That customary greeting remains to this day...
As it stands, Saint Valentine was officially recognized as the patron saint for engaged couples and happy marriages by Pope Galasius I in the year 496.
Hey, remember Pope Gelasius I from our post about crêpes and Candlemas?
If you are so inclined, a relic (the skull) of Saint Valentine resides in a glass reliquary in Rome's Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, surrounded by flowers.
Nope, it's not in the Catacombs!
These days (well, since the 8th century Gelatin Sacramentary), we celebrate Saint Valentine's Day annually on February 14th.
I can almost hear you thinking... well, P'Niche what is so French about Valentine's Day then?
So glad you asked!
While "Valentine's Greetings" grew in popularity since the 1400's, the oldest known Valentine still in existence was a poem, penned by one Charles, Duke D'Orléans. It was sent, in 1415, to his wife, while he was imprisoned, following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
This special note d'amour now lives in the manuscripts in the British Library in London, England. Le sigh...
What are the differences between American and French Valentine's Day Celebrations? Let's check it out...
In the States, Valentine's Day is a $20 billion dollar commercial affair. We send over 190 million Valentine's Day cards (and this doesn't even include school children's cards!)
Cards, chocolates, candies, flowers, lingerie, dinners out, etc. are top priority for the average American celebrating their love.
France celebrates similarly (although to a lesser commercial extent).
One fun celebration in the southern part of France, called "Fête des Amoreux" or, Feast of the Lovers, occurs bi-annually in Roquemaure, with parading and dancing in costumes from the 19th century.
Lucky enough to be celebrating your Valentine's Day in Paris? Certainly, you have seen scores of blogs, vlogs, opinions, photos, etc. on what to do and where to go.
Some of my personal favorites are...
Dinner with an Eiffel Tower view...
1, pl. du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75106
A Couple's Massage
Terrass" Hotel & Spa
12-14, rue Joseph de Maistre, 75018
A Naughty Night at Moulin Rouge
82, blvd de Clichy, 75018
Chocolate Tasting Tour
Couples' Private Photo Shoot
A Day Trip to Champagne
Single in the City of Love? Moi Aussi!
My perfect Solo in Paris Valentine's Day is:
Stroll through le Musée de l'Orangerie
Private (Chic Parisienne) Photo Shoot
"Galentine's Day" Cocktails at Bisous Bar
Walk home via the Seine counting my lucky stars - and the bridges of Paris!
You'll notice that P'Niche listed photo shoots twice. This will be explored in the coming months, so we hope you will subscribe to Parisian Niche to join us back here for the fun...
What about you, P'Nicher - how are you celebrating Valentine's Day this year? Let us know in the comments below et à bientôt!