The best places for a romantic Valentine’s day kiss in Paris

Woody Allen said “As long as you haven’t been kissed during any of those rainy Parisian afternoons, you haven’t been kissed at all”.

Having met my wife in Paris, I have to agree with Woody. There really is something magical about Paris. It can be as busy and loud as any other big city, but it also offers plenty of places to just get away from it all, and enjoy the company of someone you love. We gathered some of the most romantic spots in the city (thanks to some tips from the Parisian tourist board), and added some of our own recommendations.


Photo of the Day (11.10.09)

While I usually prefer photographs that feature subjects at close distance in great detail, I’m fascinated by the aesthetic quality of this photo by Michael Goldstein. Bright winter light and dramatic shadows frame the worn inscriptions well, with the composition anchored by the battered blue door in the center. It’s a unique take on a monument that’s been photographed many times.

The photo was taken at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The Arc de Triomphe was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and finished in 1810 as an honor to the Napoleonic Wars. (Additional fun fact: The Arc is so big, that Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it in 1919, as part of a parade to commemorate the end of World War I)

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Blu Le Dokhan opens on Trocadero in Paris

Now, you have a new reason to go to Paris this year. The Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel has just opened. This new spot is an easy walk from the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. I remember the area well – there’s decent subway access out to Place Vendome and the rest of the city.

The Radisson Blue Le Dokhan’s Hotel occupies what used to be a private residence, a building that dates back to the 18th century. From the outside, you can enjoy a restored Haussmann exterior; the inside was designed by Frederic Mechiche. The real attention-grabber, though, is an elevator made from a vintage Louis Vuitton wardrobe trunk.

Grab a glass of champagne (from an extensive menu) at Le Dokhan Bar, where you can enjoy live music well into the night. Room service is available around the clock, and internet access is free. Hey, this matters to me. Nothing’s more irritating than having to shell out $10 a day once you’ve already paid for the damned room.

Look, there’s no shortage of hotels in Paris. Anyone who’s been there knows this, and even if you haven’t, it’s not hard to figure it out. But, I’m a big fan of boutique hotels, and this 45-room location seems like a great addition to a crowded city.

Got what it takes to wear the yellow jersey?

Every cyclist dreams of pedaling through l’Arc de Triomphe and claiming endless glory. Short of that, there is nothing wrong with viewing the action first hand. Great Explorations has put together two trips for the coming year that deliver the latter (to ride it yourself, you have to earn it).

The first itinerary offers great views of at least three stages of the race, including the mountain stage finish at Le Grand Bornand, the individual time trial at Annecy and finish at Mt. Ventoux. The second itinerary takes you to Paris, where you can view the finish at along the Champs Elysees from balconies overlooking the course.

Both trips feature small groups with expert guides and carefully selected local restaurants. Best of all, you can ride the Mt. Ventoux stage ahead of the pros. We’ve all dreamed of this. Now, you can test your time against the pros! Start training immediately (after you book your trip, of course).

“Look kids, Big Ben!” — Those Crazy Roundabouts

One of the best travel-related scenes in a movie is from European Vacation when Clark and family enter the huge roundabout in London and can’t get out. “Look kids, Big Ben,” he says over and over again each time they round the circle. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s the scene on YouTube.)

My family and I found ourself in a similar situation once. We were in Paris; Dad was driving a rental car and we accidentally ended up in the hectic mess of cars that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe. I was pretty young at the time, but old enough to remember plenty of expletives coming from the front seat as I tucked my head between my legs and prayed. What’s worse is the only reason we found ourselves in that mess is because I wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe. Here I was in one of the largest cultural centers in Europe — home to places like the Louvre, the Pantheon, and Chateau de Versailles — and I wanted to see the Hard Rock Cafe. Let’s never speak of this again.

The photo above is of what’s known as the Magic Roundabout — “the world’s ultimate traffic-control system” — in Swindon, Wilshire, England. It was built in 1972, and features five mini roundabouts inside of one larger, parent roundabout. Check out more pictures and video after the jump. Yikes!

You can buy a t-shirt with this design on it.

Here’s video from the driver’s prospective. Note: wicked techno soundtrack included.

Easy, right?

This scares me.

And yes, we finally made it to the Hard Rock Cafe. I’ve got a shirt to prove it. [via]