Nowhere lives and breathes romance in France quite like the 'city of love' itself, Paris. Of course, every attraction here from a clamber up the Eiffel Tower to a wander around the lavish palace and gardens of Versailles is tinged with romance, but newlyweds should not pass over the opportunity to discover the array of especially ardent-themed activities such as the 'I Love You' Wall and the legendary lovers' rendezvous Pont des Arts. Parisian restaurants are ridiculously good, too−there are over 100 Michelin-starred restaurants here−so for that romantic meal out, this is the city.
Nothing toasts a honeymoon like a glass of bubbly, so consider a visit to charming Champagne region where the famous drink is produced. Or, you had to pick a picture-perfect embodiment of the French countryside, then the Loire Valley, crowned by chateaux and lined by vineyards producing some of the country's best-regarded wines, would be the place to go. You might plump for drinking in France's big and beautiful west coast, with the wine in Bordeaux, the oysters in Arcachon and the peaceful beach-rich island of Ile de Ré, where people get around by bicycle. Or for a honeymoon that fires all your senses, Provence should be your port of call: walking hand-in-hand through lavender fields, concocting your own fragrance together or whetting your appetites with a meal or cookery course embracing this region's exceptional natural ingredients.
|Destination||Reasons to go|
|Paris||Iconic romantic attractions like Eiffel Tower, Excellent restaurants|
|Champagne||Touring champagne vineyards and cellars|
|Loire Valley||Chateaux, vineyards|
|West Coast||Wineries in Bordeaux, Seaside peace and sophistication on Ile de Ré|
Whether you end up selecting one or more than one of these destinations for your honeymoon, remember that France (and any true honeymoon, indeed!) is all about savouring sensations−the scent of lavender, the taste of champagne−so do not pack too much into your trip.
Paris almost demands to be included on any itinerary, given its wealth of attractions which almost all seem custom-made for those who have just declared their love for each other. And the French capital is also extremely well-connected to the other honeymoon hotspots on this list: Provence, the region furthest from Paris, is still only three hours away by high-speed train. Champagne, meanwhile, is close enough to Paris to experience in a day trip. With ten days to spare, it would be possible to visit every destination mentioned here and see its highlights. Articles to help you further plan your French honeymoon include:
- Food & History in Paris - 9 Days
- Highlights of Eastern France - 11 Days, featuring Champagne region's capital, Reims, and Epernay, as well as Strasborg, Colmar and Annecy.
- Loire Valley Chateaux Tour - 5 Days
- Bordeaux for Wine Enthusiasts - 5 Days
- Paris & Provence Road Trip - 9 Days
See some of the world's most iconic embodiments of love in Paris
If you are feeling in the mood for love and love travel, Paris is probably the planet's best city to visit. So famous is the 'city of love' for amorous goings-on that almost every single sight seems powerfully romantic. Along the central curve of the River Seine, you and your partner should climb the Eiffel Tower to get a birds-eye view of the city, let the gaze of the world's most famous painting, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, follow you around the Louvre Museum and marvel at the marble-sculpted passion of Rodin's The Kiss at the Rodin Museum. It was also under the shadow of the currently closed Notre Dame Cathedral that one of the most famous couples in the history of love, Héloïse and Abelard, first met.
But there are plenty more sights for those on loved-up vacations beyond the blockbuster attractions. Outside the Louvre, pause on the bridge of Pont des Arts, once a famous spot for meeting lovers, and where lovers used to be able to declare their affection for each other by literally fastening their love to the bridge with lovelocks (the weight of the lovelocks threatened to bring the bridge down, so the tradition was stopped). And in artsy cafe district Montmartre, check out the 'I Love You' Wall (Le mur des je t'aime), a wall of enamelled lava tiles on which the phrase 'I love you' is written in over 300 different languages and dialects of the world. Finally, with sight-seeing done, do not forget to treat your loved one to a lovely meal: Paris is one of the few cities in the world blessed with over 100 Michelin stars!
On your day trip list should be a visit to Versailles, to see one of the world's most lavish palaces and wander its stately grounds, to Giverny to see the lush water garden that inspired Monet's Water Lilies series of paintings as well as the artist's former home and to Champagne to try the world's finest sparkling wine at the source (although we recommend a longer visit to Champagne, see below).
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Find your Inner Sparkle in Champagne
As everyone knows, champagne is not a drink to guzzle quickly, and the same goes for the region. Whilst it is possible to see the place that produces the planet's finest sparkling wine in a day trip from Paris, it is far better to savour the area over two or three days. The jump-off point for a foray into the wonderful world of Champagne is the city of Reims (pronounced "Rance," rhyming with how a French speaker says "France"). It is an easy walk from the center to the champagne cellar of Taittinger, where champagne matures down in former Roman chalk quarries. Epernay is another special location in the champagne story, home to the Avenue of Champagne, a thoroughfare of lavish buildings where famed Champagne houses like Moët & Chandon, Perrier Jouët, Pol Roger, and De Venoge all have their addresses here. In the vicinity you can also stay amongst the vineyards to soak up the special atmosphere of champagne country at a hotel like Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Champillon. There will be opportunities at every turn to toast your love for each other over a glass of bubbly, with the vineyard-flanked countryside as your backdrop.
Say it with Flowers or Fortresses in the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley enfolds you in its bucolic embrace and immediately beguiles you - this is picture postcard French countryside, after all, where the grand chateaux of erstwhile monarchs and nobles pepper a rich, green, vineyard-clad landscape threaded by a winsome portion of France's longest river, the Loire. The largest and most popular chateau to visit is 426-room Chateau de Chambord, a Renaissance masterpiece of turreted opulence where you and your partner will be able to play king and queen for the day to your heart's content. But the most romantic of the Loire's chateaux is Chateau de Villandry, and not for any architectural flourish, but for being surrounded by some of France's most exquisite landscaped gardens, encompassing a water garden, a labyrinth edged by hornbeams and an ornamental garden depicting not one but four different aspects of love−the fickle, the tender, the passionate and the tragic−achieved through topiary and flashes of different colored flowerbeds.
With the love theme in the Loire already blazing, you should add the region's 'love village' of Saint Valentin onto the itinerary. This little settlement has taken advantage of its name and decorated its houses and public spaces with phrases and motifs of love. Saint Valentin's 'Lover's Garden' has a gazebo where you can get married, a place to plant a tree in honour of your marriage or anniversary and a 'Tree of Vows' to which the amorous can affix messages of love.
Wine, Dine on Oysters or Cycle off into the Sunset On the West Coast
France's western seaboard is huge by European standards, but one area in particular on the central west coast should flash on lovers' radars for a honeymoon. Bordeaux - both the vibrant city and its surrounding countryside - should be your base if the two of you believe that love and wine go well together. This is probably the most famous wine region in the world (besides Champagne, above) and vineyard tours and tastings are a beautiful way to enjoy the area's culture and time together simultaneously. Try Bordeaux's Wine in the City Tour for more on wine within the city, or travel out to nearby villages like Unesco World Heritage Site Saint Emilion, where you can rent bicycles to pedal through the rolling vineyards, stopping off at wineries to discover their heritage and sample their wines.
When you do get hungry, the seaside resort of Arcachon near Bordeaux is also France's capital of oysters - the ultimate aphrodisiac seafood. The many oyster farms in the area host an oyster festival every year, and there are many oyster restaurants and bars to partake of. Work up your appetites with a climb up Europe's highest sand dune, Dune du Pilat, beforehand.
And for a peaceful conclusion to your honeymoon, try a day or two cycling around the Ile de Ré. Getting around by bike is the de facto mode of transport here, and so the lanes and paths see little vehicular traffic. The island is known for its expanses of sandy beaches, but cycle paths also take you through pockets of pine forest and sleepy agricultural landscapes. To guarantee your own crowd-free sweep of beach, come outside the popular months of July and August.
Enliven all your senses in Provence
Provence is that dreamy kind of a place where what lingers in the memory are not just sights but also smells, tastes and other stimuli for the senses. Avignon, one-time ecclesiastical capital of the Roman Catholic world and with a legacy of beautiful architecture as a result, makes a good start for your honeymoon here. Aix-en-Provence, with a fine market showcasing the region's astonishing variety of produce, is another worthwhile stop, full of haughty architecture and refined pavement cafes. Either would be a great place to try a cookery class to learn about regional dishes. But nothing in Provence surpasses a foray into the delightful countryside that produces bounty from olives to cheeses to wines. Rognes is notable for its truffles, Cavaillon for its melons and Vaison la Romain for its goat cheese. Visiting a produce market is a great way to fire your senses and experience local life in Provence's villages.
And if scent is important to you or your partner, then what better way to end your honeymoon than with a gentle stroll through the lavender fields together: the most extensive fields of purple are located in the Valensole Plateau. Finish off with a trip to Grasse, capital of the world's perfume industry. Here, the perfumeries offer perfume-making workshops: rather than showing off pictures of your honeymoon like everyone else, you will be able to tell everyone about your very own specially created fragrance!