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#RealTravel: This Couple Met and Fell In Love in Paris

Yahoo Travel profiles readers who came back from a trip with the best souvenir ever — true love. Got your own story? Tweet at us with the hashtag #YahooTravelLove.

Who: Ann Dugourd (designer and co-founder Ooh! La, La! Couture, a girls’ clothing company) and Frederic Dugourd (president and founder, iMarket4U, marketing consulting services)

Where We Fell in Love: Paris


American woman found the love of her life in Paris (Photo: Thinkstock)

Relationship Status: We will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this year, our 21st anniversary since we met, and we have two beautiful children, Chloe and Dylan.

Why were you there?

Ann: It was 1993, and I had just graduated from Cornell University and decided to backpack around Europe with friends for several weeks. At the end of the trip, we stayed in Paris to study French at the Sorbonne. Although we had just arrived in Paris, we had been away from the U.S. for over a month. We decided to go to celebrate July 4th at Le Violon Dingue, at an American fraternity basement-style bar located behind the Pantheon in the Latin Quarter at 46 Rue Montagne Sainte Genevieve.

A night of bar hopping in Paris led to love for an American student (Photo: Thinkstock)

Related: Love on the Road: Paris

Were you looking for love?  

Fred: I was out of a serious relationship for months and started to give up finding the right person. Who would have known…?

When you first met, what did you think about each other?

Fred: It was a random chain of events. My friends and I used to hang out at the French bar up the street. Up until that day, we had never set foot in this “American bar, Le Violon Dingue.” We thought it was full of English-speaking guys and not a great place to meet girls. However, it being July 4th we decided on something new: to check it out. After a few beers, my friend Francois was chatting up the girls. Since his charm was not getting him anywhere, Francois introduced me to Annie. Despite our language barrier, we spent hours conversing about our lives with my very basic English, acting things out, and sketching out drawings.


Fred and Ann in Paris soon after they met in 1993.

Ann: Fred was out with a couple of friends, but he stayed at the back of the bar in the beginning of the night. His friend Francois came over to talk to us girls, but we were just laughing that he was coming on too strong. After a little while though, Fred made his way to where we were. His English was terrible and so was my beginner French. Our first conversation consisted of a lot of “Mes cheveux sont blond! (My hair is blond!)”, “Je suis Americaine! (I am American!)”, “J’ai vingt et un ans! (I am 21 years old!).” Somehow, though, we kept communicating until 2 a.m., when he kissed me goodnight by his motorcycle. He drove off, and I wondered if I would ever see him again. 

Related: The Anniversary Trip That Gave My Wife the Surprise of a Lifetime

What next?

Fred: After that night I keep coming back to Le Violon Dingue to find Annie. I went to the Sorbonne foyer looking for her. We kept seeing each other for the next few weeks until her departure back to New York. We would drive my motorcycle to dates at restaurants, bars, and cafes on rue Mouffetard, the Marais, St. Germain, the Eiffel Tower. We also drove up to Normandy/Deauville and Honfleur for a weekend, before I drove her back to the airport for what we thought was going to be a final goodbye.


Fred and Ann’s relationship flourished during dates here on Rue Mouffetard (Photo: Fabrice Clerc/Flickr)

Related: The Ultimate Beauty Lover’s Guide to Paris

What happened after that trip? 

Fred: Two weeks after Annie returned to the U.S., I decided to cancel vacation plans with my buddies to Corsica. Instead, I bought a round-trip ticket to New York, where I spent the rest of my vacation with a person I knew was worth the extra-long distance relationship.


Lots of flights and phone calls kept Fred and Ann together during their long-distance phase (Photo: Thinkstock)

Ann: We felt if we wanted to make it work, we could make it work. Fred came to visit me in New York two weeks after I finished my studies. We called each other regularly and each worked on our French and English respectively. I took classes at the Alliance Francaise and Fred took an English class at Columbia University. We traveled back and forth over the year until Fred received a work visa to live in New York. He proposed to me on the spot in front of Le Violon Dingue where we first kissed, and on June 23rd, 1996 we were married. 

Related: How to Do Paris With Kids


The Dugourd family on a recent trip to Paris.

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