iIInterview published in Vogue.com
There is just something about French men. Perhaps it’s the way they light their cigarettes. Or the way they move their hands. Their manner.
Walk down any street in Paris, and you’ll understand: You’ll feel the wave of attention from male eyes, the energy. Walk into any café in Paris—or supermarket, café, pharmacy, or boulangerie—and you will feel that even in the most mundane of places, a romantic scene fit for a film could have its grand dénouement there. Part of it is the beauty of the city, of course, but much of it must be due to those hommes française. No wonder Paris is everyone’s favorite location for a romantic rendezvous.
But perhaps the real charm of the French man can most overwhelmingly be attributed to his endless and incredibly thorough appreciation of his even more enigmatic co-star: la femme française. After all, opposites attract.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner—and a mischievous cupid dangling from the Tour Eiffel—we thought it only fitting to see how our counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic take on the most romantic season of the year. Use these tips for Valentine’s Day—and maybe all year.
Preparation for Le Saint Valentin
starts the moment you cat-stretch out of bed and throw the windows of your pied-à-terre
open. Whether you are trotting downstairs to your local Monoprix for milk, stopping in at Sébastien Gaudard for a croissant and café crème, or picking up fleurs
, you should be aware that an unexpected, dramatic event can occur at any moment. You never know who you may bump in to or when a dashing stranger may ask you for directions. Never be caught off guard: It’s the motto of all true femmes fatales.
Have Multiple Targets
You should think of men like macarons: delicious, but it takes many to satisfy your appetite. Therefore, you must have a vanilla, a pistachio, a chocolate, a rose, and obviously, a salted caramel in your life. Brigitte Bardot once expressed the following groundbreaking conspiracy theory in regard to her character: “They may call me a sinner, but I am at peace with myself.” So, go ahead, indulge. Besides, it’s Valentine’s Day.
Don’t Care Too Much
Whether you are single or en couple
, remember: This is a commercial holiday. Hallmark Cards are very à l’américain
. As model and quintessentially French It girl Louise Follain
bluntly puts it, “I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day . . . my boyfriend told me there was a soccer game on that night this year . . . it’s really not a problem for me.” In other words, be blasé
. Never let on that you care about this heart-and-candy-infused day, even if you secretly love it. Criticize it in front of your friends; belittle it in front of your family—but in private.
Eat All The Chocolate
French film queen Juliette Binoche once admitted, “I was so happy when they cast me in Chocolat
, because it’s one of my vices.” There is no better way to indulge in Le Saint Valentin
than with this form of mortal kryptonite. John Milton, too, drew a proven parallel in regards to the phenethylamine-inducing vice: “Biochemically, love is just like eating large amounts of chocolate.” It’s scientific! So, whether you indulge with your amour
, or you do it all alone in your bed, choose the best. Top sources in Paris include Jean-Paul Hévin
, La Maison du Chocolat
, and the Follain-approved Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini
. If you are the creative and productive type, you can go all out and bake a little.
Feed Your Fantasies
It is true that Yves Saint Laurent once said, “The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves.” However, a good set of lingerie comes in close second place. To keep things a chaud
, head to Chantal Thomass
for a killer garter belt or embellished stockings. Follain lists Yasmine Eslami
as her tried-and-true go-to. If you like to keep your options open, take a walk across the Seine to Le Bon Marché
, purveyor of intimate apparel from the likes of Kiki de Montparnasse and more.
To keep a healthy glow for Le Saint Valentin
, keep in mind the importance of self-love as well as love for others. A cocktail between friends, with un amour
, or even alone with your cat can keep your spirits in check. Top picks for an under-the-radar romantic drink include the Hôtel Particulier Monmartre
and Botanique bar
. If your romantic evening is breaking dawn, as Follain puts it, “why not check into a hotel?” Go ahead and spend the night at Maison Souquet
, where you can privatize the underground capsule pool for an hour with your lover or enjoy a message in your Belle Epoque–era gilded room. Oh la la.
Catherine Deneuve once declared, “If you try to measure the future, you will never risk the present. Playing it safe. A ghastly game.” A message to all lovers out there: If nothing else, Le Saint Valentin gives us carte blanche to try something we normally might not. So, go ahead, take a walk on the wild side—whether it be by writing an anonymous letter to a lover, spontaneously calling your crush, leaving your number on the check for your waiter, or trying out a new set of undergarments. Le Saint Valentin, with cupid as its mascot, should never be boring.
After all, let’s face it—somewhere very deep down, in some very small, very dark, secret part of your heart, you actually thrive on liaisons dangereuses.