Question : How far do you have to travel to escape Hallmark holidays ?
Answer : Never far enough.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t be surprised. I do live in the “city of love,” if that’s what you want to call it. Call me crazy, but I was hoping for a quiet Feb. 14, without heart-shaped candy and over-priced cards that sing Barry Manilow.
Unfortunately, Hallmark has caught up with the rest of the world. I am well aware that Paris could care less about St. Patrick’s Day (which also happens to be my birthday, I accept cash, checks, and my favorite flowers are daffodils), but can’t they just keep on loving every other day of the year?
It is no surprise that Paris is one of the top tourist destinations for Valentine’s Day.
Great. I love tourists.
Upon learning this, I decided to avoid all the tourist hotspots for the next week. That should be pretty easy though; I have enough homework to last a lifetime.
Naturally though, instead of doing my homework, I decided to conduct an investigation. If you look up lists of “the most romantic things to do in Paris” like I just did, the only real difference between the tourist novelty attractions and everyday life here is that it is advertised for foreign couples to take walks on the Seine “hand in hand with that special someone.”
But really, I’d rather walk by myself with my iPod…and maybe a bottle of wine.
So, what makes Paris so alluring for a weekend escapade? Surely it isn’t the Euro conversion rate or incredibly cheap prices on fine dining (that don’t exist, unless you’re better accustomed to the prices in London). Is it the wafting smells from the boulangeries mixed with cigarette smoke that provides a smoggy aphrodisiac?
Maybe, but more likely it is because Parisians don’t hide their emotions in the same manner as Americans. At 8 a.m. the other day on the metro, a couple behind me was far more interested in eating each other’s faces than eating breakfast, which is widely accepted no matter where you go at anytime in Paris.
In fact, it doesn’t matter what you love here for it to be accepted, as long as you do it passionately. Ever heard of Erika La Tour Eiffel? The subject of a BBC documentary, she is a famed objectum-sexual who married the Eiffel Tower in 2007 and subsequently changed her name to make sure no one messed with her man.
While objectum-sexuality isn’t a growing trend in Paris as far as I know, Mrs. La Tour Eiffel demonstrates that while Paris may be the city of love, it doesn’t have to mean the love for a person. It could be a museum, a café or hell, it could just be a love for the city itself.
So this Valentine’s Day season, in Paris and at UMW, don’t try too hard to make everything perfect. Use it as an opportunity to live as passionately as the French live, because really, even in the city of love, it’s just another day.