Imagine a romantic country and what comes to mind? France of course. So think of romance and conjure up a kiss in France. Where in France is the next question. Your first thoughts will take you to Paris, known as the city of love. And then? Check out this list of places, some of which will be familiar to visitors, but others will, I hope, make you wonder…and persuade you to visit.
Start with Paris, a great place for lovers
Paris is the city of love, the place for romantic walks through the Bois de Boulogne or along the Seine, for candle-lit dinners in small bistros and strolls back to your hotel through cobbled streets. You’ll find your own particular private place for that kiss, but here's a start.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the great icons of France and a must-see on a visit to Paris. But romantics should make for the Champagne Bar on the 2nd floor for a glass of bubbly. Or go right up to the top of the tower at night when there’s a spectacular light show every hour lasting 5 minutes and you feel the whole world is looking at you.
There’s an ‘I love you’ wall in Montmartre which attracts more than its fair share of lovers. It’s a work of art by a couple of French artists, Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito with I love you written over 300 times in over 250 languages. It’s in the Place des Abbesses in Montmartre and it's full of kissing couples.
Finally, you might want to visit (or you might choose to avoid) the Museum of Eroticism. It’s a serious museum but you may find that the explicit content leaves very little to the imagination.
- Check out more in Paris for Lovers.
The Loire Valley has always been about love and passion
The Loire Valley is a must for lovers. The glorious châteaux stand on the river banks like jewels on a necklace. Take your pick of places to kiss at any of them; perhaps looking out over the view from the warm stone battlements, or in a chamber where the massive four-poster bed dominates, as much a symbol of power as a symbol of love.
Every one of them could be in this list of places to kiss and every one of them has a history that reads like a novel: love, lust, betrayal and sacrifice are buried in the stones of these magnificent buildings.
Chenonceau on the river Cher was the château Henri II gave to his mistress Diane de Poitiers; the château at Blois witnessed the murder of the infamous and all-powerful Duc de Guise by the King, an incident which you can see during the sound and light show in the summer.
Finally, the ‘love gardens’ at Villandry might be just the place. The château was built in 1532 and from the outset, its gardens were seen as just as important. Today they form a whole series of landscapes, including a kitchen garden and the gardens designed around box hedges that became known as love knots.
For the sweet smell of love, visit Monet's garden at Giverny
The garden of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet just outside Paris at Giverny is an intensely romantic place. Willow weep silently into the ponds; exotic scents from the over abundant flowers fill the air and everywhere there is colour, light and life.
You're not the first to discover this. Woody Allen used the garden in his film Midnight in Paris which is a wonderful homage to romantic Paris. So you have to kiss on the wooden bridge in exactly the spot used in the film.
St Valentin Village
If your village is called after St Valentine (and is the only one), then you’re going to make the most of it. And that is exactly what the enterprising mayor of St Valentin in the Loire Valley did. In 1980 a Jardin des Amoureux (Lovers’ Garden) was planted and the place never looked back. You can get married here, or just go and renew your vows. Kiss your loved one under one of the trees in the garden.
If you like solitude avoid St Valentine’s Day itself and also August 9th which is St Amour’s day.
Cap d'Agde for Naked Passion
If you’re into stripping off, then Cap d’Agde on the Mediterranean is for you. This famous nudist resort is like a small town, with all the facilities you need from supermarkets to doctors. It’s one of the oldest and one of the best organised. I'm not sure it is very romantic, but I have included it here and you can kiss your loved one anywhere.
The Romantic Ruins of Jumièges Abbey
All former abbeys are romantic, but I love this place most of all. I love the peace and I love the ruins that fill the green landscape. The former powerful and wealthy Benedicine abbey went through all the usual twists and turns of fortune, was rebuilt in the 11th century and consecrated in the presence of William of Normandy (the conqueror) and was finally defeated during the French Revolution.
It’s a place to wander through, to exchange a kiss in the shadows of the once mighty walls and to reflect on life generally.
St Paul de Vence
The south of France has always attracted lovers, both real and fictional. They come for the sun, for the clear light that slowly fades as the sun sets, the history and the good life.
St Paul de Vence is one of the most romantic of the medieval fortified villages that perch on the hills beyond the coast. It has excellent hotels, such as Le Saint Paul and the famous Colombe d’Or with its walls covered in paintings by the great artists who came here, and small, affordable restaurants. It was the village where Simone Signoret and Yves Montand had a holiday home, tucked away from the world. It’s also the village where Marc Chagall is buried.
And that kiss? Probably in the main square overlooking the Mediterranean.