Our honeymoon was spent in France; four glorious weeks, one of the most wonderful and memorable holidays we’ve ever had.
Why did we choose France? Why not a whirlwind Europe tour, cruise, or one of those easy beach holiday packages?
It came down to a number of things. We wanted to “travel slow” – really explore a place in depth, mix with the locals, and take our time; travel where the mood took us rather than follow a schedule.
Second, it was relatively cheap, especially when you head out into the rural areas, away from the big cities. You can eat and sleep like a king (and queen) for a very reasonable price.
And lastly, well…it was France after all. The food, wine, history and culture were very appealing for a romantic holiday of a lifetime.
We made an excellent choice.
I remember our first night in France. We had booked into a luxury bed and breakfast, deep in the heart of the Dordogne, a beautiful region in the southwest.
Our room was huge, with a four poster bed, floor to ceiling fireplace and french doors that opened out onto the gardens and fields below, where we could see a few horses in the distance. The stairs leading up to our room looked ancient. When we asked about them, we were told they dated back to the 11th century.
The town itself was small and quiet. We came across only a handful of overseas visitors, the rest were french. There was nothing to ‘do’, really – but we liked it that way.
We headed out for dinner on a warm spring evening, and sat down at the local restaurant (there was only one), which had tables outside overlooking a medieval chateau. It didn’t feel real.
The owner came out and spooned us a bowl of her homemade vegetable soup; we chose the local specialty, duck, for our mains, and enjoyed trying a popular digestif made in that very region, a chestnut liqueur.
Exploring the area brought yet more delights. We visited Monpazier, one of the most well preserved bastides (medieval fortified towns) in France, and saw some prehistoric art sites, including the world-famous Lascaux cave paintings, which we had read about but didn’t fully appreciate until we saw them in person.
The Dordogne is known as the land of a thousand castles. They’re impossible to miss – dotted through the landscape, many perched high up on top of the cliffs. One of our favourites was the Chateau de Beynac, once a stronghold of Richard the Lionheart.
Even the homes and buildings here have a very romantic, fairytale feel to them, with the local stone in warm tones of honey and cream. The Dordogne is popular with movie-makers – Chocolat, with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, was filmed in the area.
My husband and I love our wines, so we were in luck: wine tasting is popular down here, particularly around Bergerac. The Dordogne is known for their sweet dessert wines, and we had an enjoyable trip visiting Monbazillac, famous for their peach flavoured dessert wine.
Sarlat is another romantic place to visit, looking like it has come straight out of the movies. Dating back to medieval times, it can be quite a lively place, touristy but not overly so, and is famous for foie gras so don’t forget to try it! Our favourite (and most romantic) time to visit is early in the morning or when the sun is setting, because the stone buildings take on a lovely hue (and it’s also a lot quieter).
These are just a few highlights of our trip – but every day brought new experiences, and it felt very relaxing, a great way to spend a holiday with the love of your life.
Sarah Roles is the owner of www.france-travel-secrets.com a travel website featuring vacation ideas, destination tips and planning resources for couples in search of a romantic getaway or relaxing break in France.
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