France is often thought of as the world's most romantic country, so it's not surprising that the little village of Saint-Valentin, which is the only village in France that bears the name of the patron saint of love, declared itself the "Village of Love" in the late 20th century.
The center of the village is the Lover's Garden, which main features are the Lover's Gazebo, the little wooden bridge, and the Tree of Vows, which is a metal sculpture shaped like a Weeping Willow dripping hearts. The garden is made up of trees planted by couples who have visited the village in the past and it's even possible to plant your own tree to commemorate your trip with your special someone. With every tree, there is a sign that indicates the species as well as the name of the amorous donors. The garden is a popular spot for couples to take photographs.
February Festival at Saint-Valentin Village
Every February, the village hosts a three-day festival to celebrate Valentine's Day. Everything is covered in flowers, especially red roses, and visiting couples pour in to celebrate the occasion.
During the festival, you'll see many weddings and marriage proposals in the garden, as well as many happy couples lining up to have their love notes stamped at the post office. Look for Cupid's Mailbox, a charming little piece of art where you can mail your love letter. You'll also find many chocolate-makers who come to the festival to show off and sell their delicious chocolate hearts.
If you've been married for at least seven years, you'll be qualified to seal your love with a Confirmation of Marriage. The ceremony is performed in front of the town hall by the mayor of Saint-Valentin, who presents you with a personalized certificate. You can also have your wishes engraved onto a metallic heart that you can attach to the Tree of Vows.
Where to Stay Near Saint-Valentin
Make your trip to the Village of Love even more romantic with a night spent in the nearby Château de Dangy, a castle that was built in the 13th century. Each room is unique and the interior decor is cozy and quaint. The castle sits on beautiful grounds covered in trees from all over the world, including a 200-year old Cedar of Lebanon. Other charming hotels can be found in the nearby town of Issodun, such as the Le 3 Rois and the Jules Chevalier Hotel.
How to Get to Saint-Valentin
Located smack-dab in the middle of France in the Loire Valley, about 160 miles south of Paris, the best way to get to Saint-Valentin is by car. It is possible to take a bus or train from Paris to Issodun, the closest town to the village, but you will need another form of transportation to visit Saint-Valentin from there. If you choose to rent a car in Paris, the drive to the village will take about two and a half hours.