Travel/Proposal trifecta in play
November 27, 2009 7:22 PM   Subscribe

Triple whammy travel/proposal question. For those of you following my previous questions, I am almost home. I now have the diamond and the ring. I also have the flight to Europe. My questions now are: 1) How do I get from Frankfurt to Paris cheaply during the second week of January? 2) Where in Paris should I propose considering the cold January weather? 3) She knows nothing about the trip. How/when do I tell her about it?

1) As to the travel, we are flying into Frankfurt on January 5th and flying out on the 6th. I have a hotel in Frankfurt for the night of the fifth, but don't have to use it. We have a hotel in Paris for the rest of the trip. Searching skyscanner and related sites yields flights of around $350. Using raileurope, train trips are $300. There has to be a cheaper way to get there and back. And, ryanair does not allow me to select Frankfurt and Paris as connectors.

2) Past threads have been very helpful, but I want to ask specifically with a consideration of cold weather. Weather underground says to expect cold in the 40s.

3) I feel that anticipation of a trip is almost as much fun as actually going, so I don't want to just spring it on her last minute. We are not very well off and I have been saving for several months for this trip and it will be a very big deal to her. I am toying with the idea of giving her the tickets to Frankfurt for Christmas and then telling her that we aren't really staying in Frankfurt a little bit later and then nonchalantly mentioning that we are actually ending up in Paris over New Years. I would like to hear your general thoughts on this and how I can romantically play this out for maximum fun for me the information giver, and her the information receiver.
posted by 2legit2quit to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (30 answers total)
Give her the tickets to Frankfurt for Christmas. At New Year's when the ball falls give her a small Eiffel Tower and tell her that you'll be in Paris most of your trip. That gives her time to prepare, and time to be excited. Plus a cute little gift.

For the actual proposal, really anywhere is going to be special. A restaurant seems like a good place, since you'll be inside. You might be able to find a dinner tour on the Seine. I think a small cafe in a quiet neighborhood would be very romantic.

There is also the Louvre. I'm sure it's warm, and there are so many places that you could pop the question. In front of the Mona Lisa. Next to the Winged Victory. Maybe excuse yourself to use the bathroom and ask one of the tour guides to suggest a particular work. You can also look it up ahead of time so you know where to casually guide her. That will also give you great possibilities for anniversary gifts. For your first anniversary (traditionally paper) you can get her a poster of whatever the art was and have it framed. (Or just the poster if you're broke!)
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:53 PM on November 27, 2009

Toofewshoes, I love the Eiffel Tower gift idea!!!!
posted by 2legit2quit at 7:55 PM on November 27, 2009

Also, we have a ten dollar limit for Christmas. What can I give her that will signify Europe, but not Paris, and is not a guide book?
posted by 2legit2quit at 8:14 PM on November 27, 2009

There are a lot of cute places to propose, but I wouldn't plan it all ahead. Paris is beautiful and charming everywhere, even in the winter - just walk around and all of a sudden the moment will be perfect and you'll know it's time. Just bundle up every day for the cold and make lots of stops into cafés for coffee.

Still, ideas: The Eiffel Tower at night - after sunset, it lights up for a few minutes every hour on the hour. Gorgeous, especially if she isn't expecting it. It's also way quicker to get up and less mobbed by tourists late at night.

Or, in front of the Sacre-Coeur. At night is a plus. Absolutely gorgeous view. (I couldn't find one to do it justice, but here's an idea.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:18 PM on November 27, 2009

Thank you Solon!

I like the idea of Paris in the backdrop, but not the main focus just for cliche's sake.
posted by 2legit2quit at 8:26 PM on November 27, 2009

As far as your first question, double-check the price of train tickets at Deutsche Bahn, it's possible to get very cheap tickets (~40 euros each way) if you buy in advance.
posted by KatlaDragon at 8:34 PM on November 27, 2009


Deutsche Bahn shows tickets for combined $150 each way. Or, it simply says, "unknown tariff."
posted by 2legit2quit at 8:39 PM on November 27, 2009

If you do decide to propose in a restaurant, even spur of the moment on your walk, word up one of the wait staff or cafe manager just before hand so that they can express their celebration for you in a suitable way - a bottle of bubbly maybe or have I seen too many Audrey Hepburn movies?

If you are at all gothic minded, you could propose in the catacombs of Paris.

As for a presi under $10, find a lovely piece of parchment paper, find or compose an appropriate poem onto the paper, and a rose, and roll up the rose loosely in the parchment and wrap with a ribbon. You could even tuck the tickets in there too.
posted by Kerasia at 8:47 PM on November 27, 2009

What can I give her that will signify Europe, but not Paris, and is not a guide book?

A five Euro note?

The Trocadero overlooking the Eiffel Tower has a nice feel to it, though will be chilly. I'd say, though, ask her in the upstairs chapel of the Sainte-Chappelle, because it is the loveliest space in the city, or over hot chocolate at La Charlotte de l’Isle on the Île St-Louis.
posted by holgate at 8:48 PM on November 27, 2009

Everyone, I've got to say that Trocadero Square about ten minutes before an Eiffel tower light show sounds about perfect.
posted by 2legit2quit at 8:54 PM on November 27, 2009

As to the five Euro note, I thought about that and will use it if nothing better comes along. I assume I can just go to the bank and get it.
posted by 2legit2quit at 9:02 PM on November 27, 2009

Deutsche Bahn shows tickets for combined $150 each way. Or, it simply says, "unknown tariff."

You might have to play around with dates and such to find the cheap tickets. I did find one-way 2nd class savings fares of 39 Euro each, but I didn't always see these same rates when I tried to make it round-trip. I'm not sure of your exact dates, since I assume you're not actually leaving on the 6th, but keep looking and you should be able to find the Savings fares.
posted by KatlaDragon at 9:08 PM on November 27, 2009

What about all of the ridiculously low intra-European flights I always hear about?
posted by 2legit2quit at 9:12 PM on November 27, 2009

The same store as the Eiffel charm has a Germany one. You should be able to find a cheap charm bracelet at any accesories store or here.

German Chocolates would also be appropriate, this one is my favorite.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:39 PM on November 27, 2009

I agree that the Trocadero would be ideal if the weather cooperates.

However, if it's really cold/wet, an inside alternative is the Montparnasse Tower where you can take an elevator to the 56th floor where there is a bar/restaurant that overlooks the entire city, an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower included.

If you go before the dinner crowd, but after dark, you may be able to snag a window table for a drink and propose there. It's quite romantic and the view of the Tower is really beautiful, especially on the hour, when it sparkles.

I found Fred's (online) Guide to Paris a very helpful free resource on how best to enjoy Paris, especially on a budget.

What a wonderful idea - best wishes!!
posted by ourroute at 9:45 PM on November 27, 2009

Ridiculously cheap flights, you're probably hearing about: RyanAir or EasyJet.

These can be quite stressful ways to fly (For RyanAir: you usually have to travel a bit to their airports, which are often well outside of the stated destination. You're charged for checking baggage, and they follow the rules about carryons very strictly. To board, everyone basically crowds around in a giant mass) but they are cheap. I liked them fine while backpacking, it depends what your expectations are and what you're used to.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:55 PM on November 27, 2009

Neither of them are able to connect Frankfurt and Paris, sadly.
posted by 2legit2quit at 11:04 PM on November 27, 2009

Just one thought that I'd share with you. My former fiance proposed to me in Rome, in front of the Trevi Fountain, in the moonlight. He had the ring -- it was beautiful. He had spent months studying about diamonds and searching for the perfect ring. The proposal was incredibly romantic. He was staying in my room in Rome -- I was there teaching and he was visiting me. How can you say "no" to a proposal like that? I had always told my mother that the relationship with him would last until he asked me to marry him and I said no -- then it would be over. Under those conditions, however, how could I saw no?

I said yes, and then finally ended the relationship 2 years later when he was mean to my daughter. I mention this only to point out the dangers of incredibly elaborate and romantic proposals.... I should have been stronger, certainly, but just imagine what a nightmare it would have been to say no under those conditions.... Something to think about.... Teri T
posted by Teri T at 11:28 PM on November 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

Voyages-SNCF, the French Railways website, lets you buy tickets online on its French-language website - here's an English-language guide to doing so - and (often) print out the tickets as a PDF. It doesn't matter that you're leaving from Germany.

There are a dozen-odd trains each day, all with wildly varying tariffs. It's as low as €39 each on the 7th of January - about $120 total for the two of you.
posted by mdonley at 12:34 AM on November 28, 2009

TooFewShoes: Alpenmilch chocolate is Swiss not German.
posted by biffa at 12:43 AM on November 28, 2009

Kayak is showing Frankfurt to Paris at about $120 return right now on Air France and a tiny bit more on Lufthansa.

Although the trains might not be much cheaper (and will take longer) they will be much more practical for Paris, so worth considering.

FWIW, I would go with some of the recommendations that you don't plan the proposal too hard. You are going to be having fun in Paris, which is a great city - if you can't find a spontaneous moment which feels right, it's not the right thing to do.
posted by Kippax at 1:38 AM on November 28, 2009

Teri T's comment deserves your thoughtful consideration. This is real life, not a movie.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:03 AM on November 28, 2009

When do you need to fly back to Frankfurt? I'm seeing similar prices to Kippax on Air France and Luftansa on skyscanner for 6-13 January. Have you also tried the Air France and Lufthansa sites directly? I know you've heard of all the el cheapo European flights, but over the last few years I've found that the "normal" airlines are often very competitive or cheaper, especially if you are booking not-very-far in advance. Plus no problems with obscure airports, you get a seat assignment, etc. But, personally, I'd go for the train - more romantic!

There are a lot of cute places to propose, but I wouldn't plan it all ahead. Paris is beautiful and charming everywhere, even in the winter - just walk around and all of a sudden the moment will be perfect and you'll know it's time. Just bundle up every day for the cold and make lots of stops into cafés for coffee.

I can't agree with this more.

As for walking into a bank (in the US) and getting a five euro note - I'm not sure, but depending on the bank I don't think it's always that simple - foreign currency may need to be special-ordered.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 7:10 AM on November 28, 2009

If you're willing to take the train, then maybe the bus is okay too? Check Eurolines for prices.
posted by xo at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2009

Hold your horses.

Have you talked about marriage at all, beforehand? Actually, by "at all" I mean "extensively". Is she on the same page as you? Does she know you want to get married, and if she does know, does she know the proposal is coming up? Is she comfortable with this? Has she given you every indication that she knows you will propose and that she is going to accept?

Grand-gesture proposals, which flying to Paris when "you are not very well off" certainly falls under the umbrella thereof, are a risky business. They put an incredible amount of pressure on both participants; you to be grandiose, and her to accept. If she is any way unsure, this will be torture. She will not feel like she can gracefully refuse if you are standing in front of the bloody Eiffel tower with diamonds.

Then again, if you want her to say yes regardless of her feelings on the matter, this might be a brilliant way to go. I do not recommend it.
posted by lydhre at 7:43 AM on November 28, 2009

I use Air Ninja to figure out which cheap European airlines fly between which cities.

For Frankfurt/Paris, it shows Air Berlin and Air Baltic.

If you're into art/sculpture/gardens, maybe the outdoor part of the Rodin Museum? I imagine it could be pretty romantic, possibly especially romantic, on a winter day.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:54 AM on November 28, 2009

To many of you, thank you for the words of warning, but relax. We have talked extensively. We have looked at rings extensively. She knows it is coming, just not how or when, which is why I want to blow her socks off with how I do it.
posted by 2legit2quit at 10:22 AM on November 28, 2009

Biffa: It was what I ate when I lived in Germany. OP if you want real German Chocolate instead of just European Chocolate you can go with Ritter Sport. Still tasty, still inexpensive, but really German. The Milka brand was my favorite when I lived in Germany, and still my favorite whenever I can find it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:43 PM on November 28, 2009

I'm missing something - why don't you just fly direct to Paris? Why are you going to Frankfurt at all?
posted by A189Nut at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2009


At the time, there was a $1,000 difference in price, and I assumed it would take about $100 to get to Paris and back from Frankfurt.
posted by 2legit2quit at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2009

« Older Would linux breathe new life into my old powerbook...   |   Hey, You Look Familiar Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.