Top 5 Romantic Countryside Getaways in France
It’s not hard to fall in love in France – or with France, for that matter. Wherever you may be looking for romantic holiday breaks in France, there’s a seemingly endless choice of gorgeous villages, towns and country hideaways just waiting to be discovered.
Of course, we’ll always have Paris, as Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Berman in the cult classic Casablanca – but look beyond the city boundaries and you’ll find secluded romantic getaways in idyllic rural villages, rolling vineyards, quirky country towns and cultural treasures to make the heart sing out loud.
Here, Dakota Murphey suggests 5 of the best romantic destinations to explore with your lover.
1. La Rochelle
A beautiful harbour town on France’s southwestern Atlantic coast, La Rochelle is also known as La Ville Blanche (the White City) due to its limestone façade that glows bright in the coastal sunlight. A main seaport between the 14th and 17th centuries, there are reminders of La Rochelle’s marine heritage everywhere, including the impressive marina, half timbered houses and lighthouses galore.
To get away from it all, why not take a short ferry over to the tiny Isle d’Aix – a peaceful little place where there’s barely any road traffic. Classified as a ‘remarkable natural site’ by the French authorities, the island has secret alcoves, immaculate beaches and some great Mediterranean restaurants that are perfect for a romantic day out.
You don’t have to be a champagne lover to fall in love with Epernay, but it certainly helps. This major centre of the champagne industry in the Marne department of northern France has neat rows of vines meandering down to the town where some of the world’s most prestigious champagne houses are based, including Moët and Chandon, Mercier and Veuve Clicquot. Most of them are located on the central Avenue de Champagne in imposing 19the century townhouses and Regency style mansions that are open to visit for wine tours and sampling.
The countryside around the small town of Epernay has a mix of forests and vineyards that are a joy to explore, as are the numerous smaller villages, churches and castles all over the scenic, gently rolling countryside.
The gorgeous ancient town of Sarlat in the Dordogne seems to have been forgotten by the present day. With cobbled streets, turret medieval buildings and winding streets that are ideal for exploring hand in hand, the gentle and very charming ambience that’s provided by the yellow stone buildings has remained largely untouched by modern life. Whatever else you do, dn’t miss market days on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Head south and take a dreamy drive along the Dordogne River where you will come across some of the most beautiful villages in France. All are well worth a visit, and especially Beynac, where a large part of the movie Chocolat starring Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp was filmed, and La Roque Gageac.
With stunning views across the beautiful Loire Valley, Sancerre is a world renowned wine producing region while the pretty hilltop town remains incredibly unspoilt, oozing tranquillity and sleepiness, at least outside of the summer season. Take a wander through the ancient streets and alleyways or the surrounding vineyards and patchwork fields that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Located in the heart of France, Sancerre towers 1,000 ft above the countryside and vineyards below and a landscape that hasn’t changed much in centuries. There are a number of picturesque villages to discover, as well as the Maison de Sancerre where a tour and a tasting session of the famous white wine is an absolute must.
A charming alpine town in southeastern France, Annecy is famous for its wealth of flower adorned medieval buildings and quaint little canals crossed by small bridge, hence its affectionate nickname ‘Venice of the Alps’.
With winding little streets, wonderful shops and restaurants, Annecy is set against the dramatic backdrop of the snow capped Alps with. Admire the stunning views over the unusually blue Lake Annecy, reportedly one of the purest lakes in Europe. The best spot for lovers is the Pont des Amours footbridge on the edge of the Lake. According to legend, couples who kiss on this bridge will stay together for the rest of their lives.
By Dakota Murphey