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Cupid calls!

Extreme last-minute discounting for Valentine's weekend travel to London and Paris, plus a whopper of a deal for President's Day

In the United States, a full 20 percent of all marriage proposals take place on Valentine's Day. This is quite appropriate as St. Valentine, in one of the tales surrounding this somewhat mysterious figure, was martyred by Roman Emporer Claudius II for secretly performing marriage ceremonies for soldiers (the Emporer apparantly thought that bachelors made better fighters).

So the day is right, but at this late date it may be difficult to get a reservation at any proposal-worthy French restaurant. Unless you go to France, that is. And right now, thanks to a raft of last-minute sales, that idea is not quite as wacky as it sounds.

A trio of related companies — Go Today, Virgin Vacations and Europe Express — have all kissed off high prices for the V-Day weekend, dropping the cost of air and hotel to less than $100 per person, per day for airfare, hotel and that most important meal of the day, breakfast. The rates are truly remarkable: just $299 for air and three nights in the City of Light, an astounding $279 for the same deal to London. Here's how it breaks down:

  • London: Departure Feb. 12, return Feb. 16. $279 is the price from New York or Newark, $329 from Washington Dulles. Airport taxes and security fees add an additional $99.
  • Paris: Departure Feb. 12, return Feb. 16. $299 is the price from New York or Newark, $399 from Chicago, Washington or Los Angeles. Airport taxes and security fees add an additional $99.

At these low prices, you're not going to be sleeping on satin sheets, or enjoying a chocolate mint on your pillow each night, but you will have pleasant, solidly bourgeois digs within easy walking distance of public transportation. In Paris, the cheapest hotel is the Bellevue, a small, family-owned place at the base of Montmartre Hill. In London, the Cordova House Hotel is the least expensive option, another unpretentious place, fairly near to the Paddington St. tube station. You'll have your own bathroom at each.

It goes without saying that it's possible to upgrade to cushier places, and the costs aren't bad. In Paris, for example, just $50 more will land you on the left bank at a charming little place a mere one block from the tourist office in the Place d'Italie.

Feeling Presidential?

If one weekend just isn't enough, there are spectacularly good deals for President's Day week as well. Again, the destinations of choice are Paris and London, but this time just $299 will purchase a full week in London (departure Feb. 15, six night stay included); the cost for a week in Paris is a low $349. Prices include airfare from New York and Newark but as before, there are add-on's available from the following cities:

  • Washington Dulles: $100 more for Paris, $50 more for London
  • Boston: No additional cost for London, not available for Paris
  • Chicago: $100 more for Paris (no availability for London)
  • Los Angeles: $100 more for Paris (no availability for London)

How to book

All of these offers have an expiration date and it's approaching fast. To get in on these deals, travelers must book and fully pay for their vacations by Feb. 5 (that's Thursday) at the latest. And please note that all prices quoted here are based on double occupancy; singles pay about $180 more in most cases.

For more information, go to:

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

{Editor's note: Have you ever vacationed for Valentine's Day, or traveled somewhere exotic to propose? We'd love to hear about it, and possibly reprint your anecdote in our Letters to the Editor column. To send a message to our Editors, simply .}