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Inside Paris' $300m destination proposal business

Thomas Bywater,
Publish Date
Wed, 14 Feb 2024, 1:36PM
What's the cost of a destination proposal in Paris? Photo 123rf
What's the cost of a destination proposal in Paris? Photo 123rf

Inside Paris' $300m destination proposal business

Thomas Bywater,
Publish Date
Wed, 14 Feb 2024, 1:36PM

Paris is the City of Light, Love and - apparently - overly elaborate proposals.

Love is a currency that flows through the French capital like the Seine, bringing millions of visitors for a séjour. It’s also big business.

44 million tourists a year visit the city in the Île-de-France making it the most visited in the world. Around 36,000 tourists are there to pop the question.

The proposal market is worth $300 million to the city. There are now entire consultancy businesses, geared around in getting tourists the answer they are looking for: “Yes!”

Destination proposal planners command upwards of €5000 ($8800) for help securing the perfect rooftop location or book out that picturesque café for tourists.

And the romance business is booming. One Agency, Proposal Paris, recently told CNN that it saw a 30 per cent increase in engagements since the pandemic. And these are all inbound international tourists.

Americans lead the pack, representing 5 per cent of visitors, followed by Brits, Spaniards and Italians.

A recent survey by American wedding planners Knot showed a huge increase in those planning to get engaged while on holiday since the pandemic, with 1 in 3 proposers pop the question during a planned trip.

The top destination for Americans is still France.

After a heady cocktail of love, overseas travel and too much time in Lockdown watching Emily in Paris, it appears the end of Covid travel restrictions unleashed a backlog of extravagant meticulously planned proposals - like the proverbial cork from a bottle of Bollinger.

Destination proposal service Kiss in Paris claims to have arranged 450 scenic ring deliveries in 2023 alone.

“It’s about effort, chivalry, and creating a fun-filled day with seemingly endless beautiful mini-experiences,” says their guide to the perfect Parisian proposal.

The agency has helped plan Mission Impossible-themed scavenger hunts, stunning surprise photoshoots and reportedly booked out the entirety of Disneyland Paris for one client.

It makes sense that a tourist making a supersized romantic gesture might need help, in an unfamiliar city. Might hiring a team of six to help plan your proposal seem a little try hard?

It’s a difficult tightrope to walk. While every client engaging the company has their “unique” requests while looking for their “perfect,” memorable occasion, they also want the moment to be spontaneous-seeming and authentic. Love is fickle that way.

In Paris destination proposals the industry is fast growing to rival destination wedding planning and photography, but at what cost?

The proposal has become one more factory for les sauciocon.

Has Paris fallen out of love with your love?

Not everyone is as infatuated with the idea of Paris’ place as the capital of world romance.

At the same time as being a playground for tourist proposals, the greater Metro area is home to 11 million Parisians.

Earlier this year Graffiti on city’s shopfronts were daubed with slogans “Emily Not Welcome”. Many see the unrealistic portrayal of the city in the Netflix show Emily in Paris for closing businesses that serve locals and driving up living costs.

International tourists’ proposals in Montmartre are the latest battleground in gentrification.

Others protest against the new trend for destination proposals on grounds of “good taste”. Something that the citizens of Paris self-proclaimed arbiters of.

This is the city that invented the phenomenon of “le dirty weekend”, Serge Gainsbourg and embittered intellectuals contemplating on the impossibility of love.

(Yep. Et moi non plus, Serge.)

A PEW research survey showed that only 47 per cent of respondents in France disapproved of “extramarital affairs” compared to 79 per cent of respondents in Australia and New Zealand who deemed it “morally unacceptable”. Something that casts the city’s claim to being the “City of Love” in a new light.

The rest of the world’s obsession with Paris is an existentialist crisis worthy of Sartre.

With the Olympic Games arriving in the city this August, the influx of 15 million visitors is only likely to further pressure the city’s love-hate relationship with tourism.

But as the Metropole for the world and the most visited city on the planet, it’s not a problem that can easily be solved, and loved-up tourists’ claim to the city is as good as anyone else’s.

They’ll always have Paris.

Street vendors sell souvenirs of small Eiffel Tower At Trocadero, in Paris.
Street vendors sell souvenirs of small Eiffel Tower At Trocadero, in Paris.

Top tips for planning a destination proposal in Paris

Can you propose on the Eiffel Tower?

There’s no more “Pariser” landmark than Gustav’s 1887 tower.

It’s a bit on the nose, but there are no rules that say you cannot propose on the tower. And at 20 euros per person, it’s a relatively cheap date.

Although you’ll have to share the moment with the other 20,000 daily visitors. Also, the best views of the skyline - avec Tour d’Eiffel - are not from on top of the 300m tower.

It has all the subtlety of a banner reading “We got engaged in Paris” but it’s a visual signpost that tourists fall hopelessly for.

Bizarre quirks of European copyright law, say you cannot profit from photos of the tower taken at night. Personal engagement photos are A OK.

According to Kiss in Paris’s guide to popping the question there are many public places, with the perfect backdrop.

“A private rooftop proposal spot is not always prettier than its public alternative,” but among the “significant advantages” are guaranteed privacy and a greater level of control.

The Alexander III bridge and Luxembourg Gardens are popular spots, although they suggest that the hilltop views of Montmartre or the Tuileries Garden can be a bit further from the crowds.

What does a destination proposal cost?

Those seeking the aid of a destination proposal planner can “expect to invest thousands of euros,” say Kiss in Paris. It’s not for everyone.

Rental of a private rooftop costs anywhere from €1,000 to €10,000 ($17,680).

“Suppose you intend to make a straightforward total surprise proposal at Trocadero. In that case, you likely don’t need a planner,” they suggest.

The Pont des Arts, a public bridge covered in lover’s padlocks, is one of the city’s most picturesque and cost-free for courting couples.

Rich tourists pretending to be penniless Parisians has been a popular pastime since La Bohème of 1830. To the ongoing ire of locals.

Where are the best places to Propose in Paris on a budget?

You don’t have to spend €10,000 on a view of the Paris skyline. Here is a list of the eight best public locations with views of the Eiffel Tower.

  • Trocadero, Palais de Chaillo
  • Bir-Hakeim
  • Montmartr,e Sacré-Cœur
  • Tuileries Garden
  • The Medici Fountain, Luxembourg Palace Gardens
  • Pont des Arts
  • Champs-Elysees
  • A Seine River Cruise

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