Paris is making love public, in 160 characters or less

Arguably the most romantic city in the world, Paris is giving enamoured residents and visitors the chance to declare their love on the city’s digital billboards.

Arguably the most romantic city in the world, Paris already conjures up images of dinner à deux, love padlocks on the Seine and clinking Champagne glasses. Now, Paris City Hall is taking the city’s tie to romance a step further: on Valentine’s Day, enamoured residents and visitors can declare their love on the city’s digital billboards, in 160 characters or less.

Anyone can submit their amorous messages (even marriage proposals) in any language until midnight on 9 February. Then City Hall’s team will select 100 or so of the most poetic entries. The messages will be displayed in lights on one of the capital’s 170 electronic signposts – which ordinarily display practical information about weather, public holidays or cultural events – from 6 am until midnight on 14 February.

The electronic screens are located across the city, including in front of the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe. The most romantic signpost location, though, may be that in front of the Hôtel de Ville, the home of City Hall itself – and where photographer Robert Doisneau shot his iconic image, The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, in 1950.

American expatriate in Paris Samantha Gadenne, 33, has already submitted an entry destined for her husband. “I think it's a very romantic gesture and it has the advantage of being both a unique and public declaration of one's love,” she said.

It is free and easy to participate via a simple online form on the Paris City Hall website. A handy graphic simulates the text on the billboard as you type. Chosen participants will receive a confirmation email. All entries submitted, however, also will be displayed on the town hall’s website.