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The perfect recipe for a happy relationship:

Step 1 Meet someone you actually like
Step 2 Make sure they have a passport (do you really want to be with someone who doesn't have a passport?)
Step 3 Find any excuse you can - birthday, anniversary, third date, whatever
Step 4 Take them to Paris

Okay it may not be exactly that simple, but nobody can resist a trip to Paris and it is known as the romance capital of the world for good reason. Paris screams "Amour" and you will never be at a loss for things to do, whether it is taking a romantic stroll along the banks of the Seine River, climbing the Eiffel Tower to steal a kiss while gazing at the city, buying that perfect pair of shoes in Le Marais or sipping a fine Cabernet Franc while indulging in gastronomic delights at one of the thousands of Parisian bistros.

Traveling to Paris on a budget might not sound too sexy, but keep in mind that every dollar saved on airfare and accommodations can be put toward that exquisite watercolor you find in Montmartre.

You'll definitely save a Franc or two (call me nostalgic but I still think of the long lost Franc even though I know it's the Euro) with 1800 Fly Europe (tel. 877/284-1814; www.1800flyeurope.com). The currently advertised winter fares to Paris are valid for travel from November 1 to December 13, 2006 and from December 26, 2006 to March 31, 2007. Book by September 30, 206 to secure these round-trip prices:

  • From New York: $409
  • From Boston: $439
  • From Washington DC:$469
  • From Chicago: $509
  • From Dallas: $539
  • From San Francisco: $559
  • From Seattle: $599
  • From Los Angeles: $659

Virgin Vacations (tel. 888/937-8474; www.virginvacations.com) has a "Spend New Year's Eve in Paris" deal that is priced from a sweet $699 per person. The New Year's Eve package includes round-trip airfare to Paris from New York, airline fuel surcharges six nights' accommodations at Tim Hotel Nation in the 11th Arrondissement, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges. Departure dates are from December 25 to 28, 2006 only. Add $20 from Boston, $40 from Baltimore, $60 from Atlanta, $150 from Chicago ... and $200 from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Book this special by September 29, 2006 and receive an additional $25 off per person. Taxes of approximately $124 are additional.

Our Travel Company (tel. 800/578-5760; www.ourtravelco.com) still has its "Thanksgiving in Paris" package available for departures on November 21, 22 or 23, 2006 only. The package is priced from $499 per person based on double occupancy, plus taxes and includes round-trip airfare from New York, four nights' accommodations at the two-star Kyriad Bercy Village Hotel in the 12th Arondissment and breakfast daily.

No round up of budget Paris trips would be complete without a mention of Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com). Currently its "Paris Price Breaker" trip is priced from a low $499 for travel on November 29 and December 6, 2006 and every Wednesday throughout January and February 2007 (except January 3). The package consists of round-trip airfare from the New York, four nights' accommodation at the two-star Campanile Boulevard Berthier Hotel in the 17th Arondissment, airline fuel surcharges and breakfast daily. Departures November 1 and 8; December 13, 2006; and March 7, 14 and 21, 2007 start from $549 plus taxes. Add approximately $72 from Boston, $142 from Miami, $148 from Chicago and $204 from Los Angeles.

If you are really quick, Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.us) is having a "Winter Deals to Europe Sale" but bookings must be made by September 18, 2006 (although there is a chance that the sale may be extended). Sale prices are for travel from October 30, 2006 through March 31, 2007 (with a blackout period of December 15, 2006 to January 7, 2007). Sample one-way fares to Paris include:

  • New York: $245
  • Boston: $302
  • Chicago: $321
  • Atlanta: $341
  • Los Angeles: $369

For something a little different, why not attend a wine tasting. BK Wine (www.bkwine.com/international/courses_etc.htm) will be holding two wine tasting sessions in Paris later this year and both will be conducted in English. Participation is limited to ten persons so book early. The tastings will take place in a brand new wine shop in central Paris, close to Les Halles and prices includes five wines and a selection of cheeses to nibble on. On Monday October 24, 2006 is the "Tour de France" -- a tasting of the most important regions and grapes in France which is priced at 35 Euro. On Monday December 5, 2006 is the Champagne and other sparkling wines tasting where participants can learn about and taste the finest sparkling wines. This class is priced at 45 euro. To book a place at a tasting, contact info@bkwine.com.

Paris Please (www.parisplease.com) calls itself a nightlife adventure agency so I was immediately intrigued. It offers nightlife tours that set you up with the glitterati set -- this is certainly no pub crawl. A standard night out includes riding in luxury cars with private chauffeurs, lounging on sexy banquettes, sipping on caipirinhas and sakettinis in the latest trendy clubs, lounges and bars, hanging with the beautiful fashion model crowd and their entourages and they even boast an occasional celeb and movie-star sighting. The website asks you to choose the date, hour, and the number of people attending and spits out a price quote based on those three factors. The company then goes on to personalize your night out by contacting you and discussing your preferences, as well as a meeting point. The prices vary according to season, date, day of the week and the number of people in the group but I received an initial quote for $592 for a group of three -- so if your budget stretches that far and you'd like a glamorous night on the town, the velvet rope awaits you -- let's be honest, you could stay in a hostel but at least pretend to be a rock-star for one night.

For stays longer than a couple of days in Paris, you may like to look into activities and events for English speaking people -- not that I am suggesting avoiding trying to speak French, it's just that you may wish to meet English-speaking people who live in Paris and websites like www.paris-anglo.com, www.parisvoice.com and www.fusac.fr/en can help. They offer information on Paris shopping, dining, events, day trips, accommodations and jobs.

Art aficionados will appreciate the Paris Art website (www.paris-art.com). Click on the British flag for English language information about artists, venues, current art exhibitions, gallery shows and museum installations. You can search by date, interest, genre or venue.

You can talk about Paris with travelers who've been there on our France Message Boards. It's free and easy.