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Fun Date Ideas #3: A Romantic Date At A French Cafe In Saint-Germain-des-Prés

St-Germain-des-Prés Creative Commons

St-Germain-des-Prés Creative Commons

No you won’t have to fly to Paris France for Fun Date Ideas #3 – we’ll show you how to do it at home and on a budget!

So what is St-Germain-des-Prés you might be wondering?

St-Germain-des-Prés (pronounced san-zher-man-dey-prey) is an upscale neighborhood located in Paris France on the Left Bank and has been home to students of the Sorbonne, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Baudelaire,  Sarte, De Beauvoir, Beckett, Musset, Charles Gainsbour and many other poets, writers, thespians, musicians and artists.

Some say it is the creative heart of France and is even credited with being the birth of existentialist thinking and the emergence of avant-garde theater, avant-garde painting and avant-garde jazz.

This ritzy neighborhood lines the Left Bank of the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower district to the West, and the Latin Quarter to the East. Famous main streets include the Boulevard St-Germain, Rue Bonaparte and the popular Rue de Seine.

Casual attire in St-Germain-des-Prés includes Louis Vuitton and Dior, and the area is home to some of the countries most amazing museums. It’s also home to a wealth of art dealers and small galleries.  In short, it is the place to be seen.

Here are some historical facts about St-Germain-des-Prés:

  • The Benedictine Abbey located in St-Germain-des-Prés dates back to the 6th century and is considered the oldest church in Paris. You can even find the tomb of the renowned philosopher René Descartes in one of the side chapels.
  • St-Germain-des-Prés grew into a hotspot almost overnight for existentialist thinking after World War II.
  • Writers Balzac and Georges Sand and the famous painter Manet hung out in the area around the 19th century.
  • The famous museum Musée d’Orsay is located here and houses an extensive collection of impressionist paintings and drawings by such well know artists such as Cézanne, Renoir and Monet.

Let’s face it, the place practically reeks romance, so what better place to take your date?

Here’s how to do Fun Date Ideas #3 on the cheap:

The idea here is to decorate the entrance and living room of your home to look like an outdoor french cafe. You’re going to need:

  • Some paints and markers
  • Plenty of cardboard and construction paper
  • Some plastic flowers and greenery
  • Some string lighting (all white xmas lights will do)
  • A fancy table cloth
  • A card table or other small ‘dinner’ table
  • Some wine glasses
  • Some romantic french music
  • A stick candle
  • Tape, scissors, skill knife
  • A friend dressed up like a French waiter

Add this to the trimmings if you have a little extra to spend:

  • Pick your date up in a Limo – wear a suit.
  • Mix some real flowers in with the plastic and hand-drawn flowers.

Decorate your living room to look like an outdoor french cafe. If you don’t have any idea what one looks like, go over to Google Images and type: outdoor french cafe or just french cafe and browse. You might also want to enter: St-Germain-des-Prés to get an idea about what some of the surrounding area looks like.

Pick and choose from what you see in the pictures. It’s totally OK if your creation looks awkward or even a bit cheesy. Just make it look kind of romantic and treat it with some formality. Think of this like being an actor in a play on a stage with props.

Fun Date Ideas French Cafe Experience

Fun Date Ideas French Cafe Experience

Reproduce elements of what you see in some of the photos into life-size mockups in your living room and entry hall. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to embellish. You can find most of the stuff you’ll need at a local crafts shop. The music we recommend is Putumayo Presents: French Cafe which you can find at Amazon for around seven bucks – used.

Plan several courses to the meal and make sure your friend knows to wait an appropriate amount of time between courses. Be kind and give your friend a TV or movie to watch in the other room between courses.

A Word Or Two About The Food

OK it needs to be said – french fries are out.

If you think that boiling hot dogs is hauteur cuisine, then do yourself a favor and while you’re at Amazon also search for a cheap french cook book. Follow a recipe you think sounds good or ask some friends what they would make.

How To Create An Authentic French Menu

Start with a set of menus in English containing only what you’re cooking.

Then go over to translate.google.com and paste your menu text into the box on the left side.

Choose “French” as your language from the drop d0wn menu near the top, and you’ll see the translation appear in the right hand box. Copy and paste the translated menu back into your word processor and print.

You can paste the white printed paper onto construction paper, fold and add decorations.

Attention to the Details

Some of the details you might want to pay attention to are:

  • How the place smells
  • Clean and deodorize the bathroom
  • Print up some of the facts from this article and put them on a card entitled, “Interesting Facts About St-Germain-des-Prés and Cafe Chez [add the name of your pretend Cafe]
  • How fancy the dishes and silverware come off. (Borrow some from your mom or other relative if you need to).
  • Have your friend greet you and your date at the door with, “Salut comment allez vous ce soir?” (means “how are you this evening?” – pronounced “como-allee-voo-si-swah”) and “s’il vous plaît me suivre” (means “please follow me” – pronounced “see-voo-play-mi-cever”).
  • It’s OK for the waiter to speak in English the rest of the time, but you might want him to throw in an occasional, “merci” (means “thank you” – pronounced “mear-cee”) or “très bon” (means “very good” – pronounced “tray-bone”).
  • Your friend should dress in a white shirt and black pants – no tie is necessary and have a pad he writes your order down on.
  • Have your friend bring the wine and pour a small amount into one of the wine glasses. Pick up the glass while your friend waits and swirl the wine around lightly then smell it. Next taste a small amount and let it wash around your mouth – almost like mouth wash – then swall0w and say, “très bon”. Your friend should know to pour both of you a full glass at that point.
  • Don’t just say thanks or thank you, say “merci” instead. And “pardon” is pronounced “par-doan” (“pardon Jacques could you bring the main course now? Merci.”).
  • Hang a curtain or fancy blanket or sheet to block off the rest of the house.
  • Put a drawing or cardboard mock-up of the Eiffel Tower in the background (all black is OK like a silhouette).
  • Don’t forget the music.

Use Your Imagination

It’s OK to use your imagination and don’t be afraid to be creative. At the very least, your date will be mega-impressed at all the trouble you went to for her and it will probably be a date she’ll talk about for years to come.

After the meal is over, have your friend clear the dishes and then disappear – after all, the evening is still young and you’re in one of the most romantic places in the world…

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