He Surprised Me With Paris

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photo by Pete Heck

A few days before our wedding anniversary, I was heading to the airport check-in counter not knowing where we were going.

The grin on Pete’s face was wide with a hint of smugness. He was certainly pleased with himself, having successfully kept a secret for the past month on our destination. I had a strong suspicion of where we were headed, but did not know for sure until he handed me the boarding pass.

Paris Boarding Pass

(There might have been some making out in the airport at this point.)

We had been “saving” Paris for years, flirting with the borders of France but never making the leap to its capital and the famed most romantic city in the world, wanting to visit only on a special occasion. So it was appropriate that on our happy twelfth anniversary, Pete would whisk me there in a dramatic and mysterious fashion.

In our minds, Paris was meant strictly for romance, and it loomed with lofty towers of hype. So much so that as the plane descended into Charles de Gaulle, I was slightly worried. Our usual philosophy of traveling sans expectations, so as not to be let down, definitely could not apply here. Paris would need to match our absolute elation, our gaiety, our anticipation, our passion….or Paris would fail.

The city did not let us down.

Eiffel Tower

Paris is for lovers.

The banks of the Seine are meant for romantic strolls, its bridges for cozy photos with the landmarks that line it, and for sweethearts to lock up their love and throw away the key. (In fact, Paris is in danger of suffering from too much love.)

Pete and I always spend time at the “love lock” bridges we find around the world, hoping to find a padlock marked with our initials.

Love Locks

We found this one instead.

True Love Never Ends

In my mind, the romanticism of Paris has always been tied up in the curb side bistros, with patrons lingering over glasses of wine, fingers tangled together, whispering and softly giggling as the world passed by. Their faces would be lit up by dim neon, a plate decorated with luxurious cheeses on the table but barely touched.

French Bistro

This bistro was right outside our apartment doors and it’s ambiance encapsulated everything I thought it would. And there would be another one just down the street, and others a few blocks over. They were everywhere.

And when we weren’t lingering over cheese plates ourselves, we were seeking out landmarks, marveling at the sheer size of such things as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, so much more massive than photos depict. We felt dwarfed, but in a cozy way, like we could just tuck into a small piece of it undetected and claim it all for ourselves. Whether in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, or on a small bench in the Champ de Mars park with an unimpeded view of the Tower – it was ours, to do with it whatever we pleased.

And what we pleased was a whole lot of this.


I’ve been raving a lot lately about Pete and my marriage, and I think now it’s easy for you to see why. He gave me PARIS, and Paris did not disappoint.


Many thanks to for setting us up in a wonderful apartment during our stay. For a full review, please click here.

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  1. Oh such romance! I have always wanted to wander around Paris with my special someone but it has never happened – but I still have hope!
    Paris is certainly for those drunk in love, what a great gift πŸ™‚

  2. Awwww this is so sweet! What a guy! Happy anniversary to you two and I’m so glad Paris lived up to your expectations.

  3. How romantic! What a lovely surprise! We are already planning Paris for our three year anniversary in May. Last time I was there was with a bunch of ladies, which was wonderful, but I’m excited to experience it as a lover πŸ™‚ I love all your black and white photos- such a nice touch!

  4. How incrediably romantic! I hope to one day walk the streets of Paris with my other half. What a perfect place to spend an anniversary! Congrats on the 12 years!

  5. Paris NEVER lets you down. It should be a mandatory yearly trip (if only I were to rule the world ;-)). I’m so happy you enjoyed it and you both look really happy.

  6. Congrats on being one of the cutest, most awesome traveling couples I know!

    I’m glad that Paris lived up to your romantic expectations. I definitely want to go back with a boy someday!

  7. This made me tear up a little bit! Partly because I miss Paris so much — seeing it through a first-time visitor’s eyes makes me feel like I never appreciated it enough when I lived there…

  8. Dalene, Certainly a romantic gesture, but Pete gets bonus points from me because he moved beyond romance and into thoughtfulness.

    Kudos and happy anniversary!

  9. Dante and I had not been dating very long, and I was already back overseas in Europe, when he told me that he really missed me and wanted to see me. Even if that meant he had to come after me and travel to where I was. Since I had no plans of returning to the states anytime soon. I thought, like other men who had said similar things, that he didn’t mean it and he wouldn’t actually come to visit me when it would mean such a costly plane ticket. But I did have some time coming in Paris which he could have easily joined me for because of the nature of my schedule in the city. When I told him that, he got excited and said he’d always wanted to visit Paris. Of course he would come, he said. When we disconnected Skype, I wrote in my journal that I did not believe he would visit. The next morning, I received his flight itinerary. A plane ticket to Paris for the dates I would be there. I decided then and there that if he would keep me, I would most certainly keep him.

    There’s just something about Paris, as you point out, it is for lovers and for some kind of magic. So glad to read of your Paris adventure and so glad you were finally able to visit, finding that it lived up to your expectation.

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