On this day, 12 June, 1950 Life magazine published what would become one of the iconic photos of Paris. Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville, (The Kiss by the Hotel de ville) by Robert Doisneau. Taken in front of the Hôtel de Ville in the 4th arrondissement of Paris just over the Pont d'Arcole which will also take you right in front of the Notre Dame de Paris.
I love this photo, but more for what is around the couple then the couple themselves. The essence of Paris comes so clearly across in this piece. The people walking by without even a glance toward the couple in a close embrace is what is so very Parisian. It is not uncommon to see this exact scene on one of the many picturesque bridges, in front of the Eiffel Tower or on a sidewalk terrace, it's as common to see as a Frenchman walking down the street with a baguette.
It's the romance of Paris that oozes out of everything that is so easy to be whisked away into, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. But back to this photo and where I will squash your romantic dreams of what looks like such a candid moment. By 1950 Robert Doiseneu had been documenting the streets of Paris for a few years after working for Vogue as a fashion photographer. He found his inspiration in the everyday life of Parisians and it was on one of these days he saw a couple kissing. For more than 40 years it was a great mystery who the young couple were, but in 1992 they were revealed. Jacques Carteaud and Françoise Bornet were dating and walking through Paris kissing away when Doisneau caught a glimpse of them. In 2005 Françoise said that, "He told us we were charming, and asked if we could kiss again for the camera. We didn't mind. We were used to kissing. We were doing it all the time then, it was delicious. Monsieur Doisneau was adorable, very low key, very relaxed."
So he took them to a few famous spots in Paris to recreate their kiss, but it was in front of the Hôtel de Ville that they struck gold and the iconic photo was created. When you are in Paris, go to this same spot and at the café across the square stand across from the "C" and kiss away and you can make your own version. I can promise you it's not hard to be swept away in the romance of Paris and you too can find out exactly why they call them French Kisses.