How to fall in love in the Luxembourg Gardens

Embrace your inner romantic and flee to this majestic Paris landmark

One day the air was mild, the Luxembourg was flooded with sunshine and shadow, the sky was as clear as if the angels had washed it in the morning, the sparrows were twittering in the depths of the chestnut trees, Marius had opened his whole soul to nature, he was thinking of nothing, he was living and breathing, he passed near this seat, the young girl raised her eyes, their glances met. — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, 1860

One of the most famous and beautiful love scenes in all of literature is set, where else, but in the heart of the City of Love: The Luxembourg Gardens. The author is Victor Hugo, the novel is Les Miserables, the year is sometime in the early 1800s, and the lovebirds are Marius and Cosette. Well, Marius and Cosette plus a certain somber third wheel, known to some as the ex-convict Jean Valjean, to others as the gardener Ultime Fauchelevent, yet only to Marius as the white-haired overbearing father, Monsieur LeBlanc. Cosette is Mademoiselle LeNoir, the plain Jeanne who wears black on her daily promenades with her father.

A Chance Encounter

Marius had thought little of the pair until one pivotal day, when Cosette finally blossoms into the stunning realm of womanhood. Everyday, he goes to the Luxembourg Gardens in anticipation of seeing them promenading along the same path. He sits on the same bench, pretending to read a book while secretly awaiting his anonymous beloved. In an unforgettable scene, Valjean's (or Fauchelevent's, or LeNoir's) handkerchief blows away to Marius's luck, and he thinks it belongs to the girl. It bears the initials, U.F. He imagines that her name must be, what else, but Ursula. He covets the handkerchief like a relic.

For those who haven't read the book (or seen the musical), things for Marius and Cosette turn out a lot better than for many of the other characters in the appropriately melancholic story that its title foreshadows. But I'm here to talk about their famous meeting place, the Luxembourg Gardens: the place where one doesn't have to be fictional or live in the 19th century in order to fall in love.

An Italian Inspiration

Boboli Gardens and Pitti PalaceLYSVIK PHOTOS

The history of the Luxembourg Gardens dates back to 1612, when plans for the massive oasis were initiated by Queen Marie de Medici. Inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, this park would be ideally located between the bustling Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter of Paris. The gardens are both French- and English-style, with 25 hectares of land housing an apple orchard, apiary, and orchid- and rose-filled greenhouses.

But the natural beauty is not the only remarkable thing about the gardens. There are 106 statues, which transform the gardens into an outdoor museum. There's the lush and regal Medici fountain, the Orangerie, and Pavillon Davioud. Kids are welcome to indulge in a variety of activities including seeing puppets, going on pony rides, and enjoying slides. There's also chess, tennis, bridge, and remote controlled boats to race in the fountains. Visitors can also see free photography exhibitions on the garden railings and attend concerts in the bandstand.

Medici FountainMaremagnum

Find Marius's Bench

When you enter the gardens, your first mission will be where to sit. Whether you seek a bench in the sun or a bench in the shade, one by a fountain or by a tree-lined path, one by the ponies or the tennis courts, you'll be able to find a beautiful vantage point from which to write in your journal, sunbathe, people-watch, eat a sandwich parisien, or pretend to read. Trust me, you won't get any reading done.

See flamenco dancers perform at the bandstand in white dresses and with red carnations in their hair. Look deep into the pools of the Medici fountain. Breathe in the delicate scent of flowers. Listen to the polite pop of tennis balls. Picnic under the trees. Take your time. Fall in love.

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

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This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

getaway essentials

Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

getaway activities

UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.