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Eiffel Tower. Done. Now, what else to do in the most romantic country in the world? Here are ten fun and alternative ideas for making the most of your couple's time in the nation of amour.
1. Discover a Paris dawn
Jet lag permitting, taking a dawn walk in Paris is one of the most magical experiences imaginable. With the first sliver of light cascading over the city, Paris remains silent except for songstress birds and workmen washing down the pavements. The smell of freshly baked goods sits heavily in the air and an innocence prevails; as though every debaucherous activity from the night before has been forgotten. Wherever you are based, head towards the Seine for morning jaunts along the banks of the infamous river. Cross Pont Louis Philippe to Ile Saint Louis, or its neighbour, Île de la Cité, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning sunrise colours shimmering across the adjoining bridges. Then it’s time for a café au lait, or better still, a piping hot croissant enjoyed at a bijou café on the corner.
2. Voulez vous coucher avec moi, in Nice?...
Journey to the banks of the Mediterranean to visit stunning Nice, the Capital of the Cote d'Azur. Its warm, sunny weather and stunning landscapes attract honeymooners and holidaymakers year-round.
The Old Town is a must-visit location, nestled behind the seafront along Cours Saleya. The markets here are the perfect place to stop and buy fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers, with local specialities also available to eat on-site. Stroll through Castle Hill and absorb the unspoilt beauty, complete with beautiful greenery and even a waterfall. Cast your eyes over Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) and Vieux Nice (Old Town Nice). This walk is an ideal evening stroll for romantic types, with spectacular lighting illuminating the dark sky.
3. Sunsets at Paris’ Temple Romantique
From sunrise to sunset, one of the best places to watch the sun slip into night is at the Island of the Temple of Love. Also known as Temple Romantique. Of course, it’s no surprise that a city such as Paris would have a temple dedicated solely to amour, and here it is. Located in Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in Paris, the temple sits in the middle of Lac Daumesnil on its very own island. Access to this, the Île de Reuilly, is via bridge, or if you’re feeling especially charming, you can hire a rustic wooden boat and row your loved one across. The boats have individual names painted into the planks, so keep an keen eye out for your partner’s name – and commandeer that one. Once across the temple alone will make a splendid backdrop to your couple’s selfie, but dodge the punters proposing (unless you’re one of them) and descend the rocky stairway down to the shore. Here you’ll find a little slice of sand and a dreamy grotto with picture-perfect views.
4. Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Mon Cherie
Imagine dropping the L-word under gently falling snow before hurling yourself down a mountain atop two skis. At Chamonix Mont-Blanc, powder hounds can mix romantic sentiments with an equally alluring après ski scene.
Chamonix is a world-famous ski and snowboard destination that is visited by travellers from every corner of the globe. With a mountain 4,810 metres high and covered in powdery white snow, it's hard to resist the thrill of strapping on your skis and spending the day on the slopes. Once you've finished with the sports, treat your partner to an utterly indulgent massage or spa treatment at one of the world-class facilities here, such as Deep Nature Spa or Serenity Spa du Park Hôtel.
5. Make like royalty and helicopter into Monaco
How to upstage all those who arrive in Monaco in a Bugatti Veyron? Why, by helicopter of course. Get the VIP treatment with House of Travel’s Passport to Monte-Carlo package, including a very illustrious welcome, two night’s accommodation, breakfast daily and entrance tickets to the Principality’s best museums and attractions. Not forgetting the helicopter arrival from Nice Admire the splendours of the world’s second smallest country - after Vatican City - as well as the prince’s collection of vintage cars, the picturesque old town, Monte-Carlo Casino, the Palace and romantic dinners fronting the harbour. Which billion dollar yacht would you choose?
6. Romantic French dining three ways
Dining in Paris is obviously a must-do and if you’re there for at least a few days, experience it three delicious ways:
•Lady and the tramp style: Duck down any narrow side street, preferably with romantic cobblestones and hanging baskets grappling with wooden shutters and sit at a cast iron table under an awning. Don’t worry, there are plenty to be found in the capital, simply follow your nose. They’ll likely serve hearty provincial dishes with copious quantities of sliced French baguette to mop up your sauce. Add half a carafe of the house red and you’re in for a cheap treat.
•Splurge on a fancy dinner: Seek out the renowned Verjus, and the latest sensational restaurant to hit the prestigious Palais-Royal quartier of Paris. Run by American wonder-duo, Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian, don’t be put off by the US influence, they whole heartedly embrace the culture of French cuisine. Enjoy a daily seasonal tasting menu, optional cheese course and wine pairing. Think it’s only the French who can craft sublime cuisine? Think again.
•Michelin on the cheap: Oh yes, there are plenty of Michelin starred restaurants in Paris and while dinner can set you back a pretty penny, lunch won’t run your savings dry. With one-star establishments such as L'Agapé (17th arrondissement) serving a set four course lunch for €35pp, and even the three-star l'Astrance (16th arrondissement) dishing out a three course lunch for €70 per head, you can afford to go ostentatious. At lunchtime at least.
7. Put it in a love song, Carcassonne
Carcassonne is an utterly romantic medieval fortified town, with its UNESCO World Heritage listing proving its worth as a holiday destination. See the massive castle (which is believed to have inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty) and marvel at the ancient Gothic cathedral, then journey across the river to take in the newer part of the city. Spend a day roaming the old streets and indulge in a wine tour around the outskirts on the city, where there are plenty of vineyards offering tastings.
8. Tour the capital in a vintage Citröen 2CV
This one’s the perfect option for your first night in Paris. Get picked up from your accommodation by a Frenchman and his vintage convertible Citröen 2CV. He’ll be wearing his striped Breton tee and a cheeky French smile; his car will be dressed in classic Citröen colours and shiny good looks. You’ll then embark on a 60-90 minute zip around the city; an open-roof tour soaking up all the sights that only a small car like the 2CV can access. Your driver will tailor your itinerary to suit exactly what you want to see in the City of Lights, and with his encyclopaedia-like knowledge, you’ll learn more from him than the Google could ever tell you. The company is called 4 Rues sous 1 Parapluie with rates starting at approximately 120 Euros for an hour. And if you’re wondering why this is a great first-night activity, it’s because you’ll sweep past so many secret spots, you’ll want to spend the next seven days revisiting them.
9. Tango on the Seine
Come summer, balmy Parisian nights stay light (and warm) until at least 10pm, and aside from dawn, it is one of the most enchanting times of day to be out. Post dinner strolls along the Seine are only enhanced by impromptu dance performances that ignite along the river bank. In particular, Quai Saint-Bernard in the 5th arrondissement. Between late June and August, people flock here for twilight dancing, whether that be salsa, swing, tango or traditional French folk. Sit on the steps with a bottle of wine and watch the finely dressed performers shimmy the night away, or, if you don’t see it as solely a spectator’s sport, clink your heels and get involved. Either way, it makes for gratifying people watching – with sexy Parisian flare.
10. Explore France’s romantic back roads
Away from the busy towns and inter-city motorways, you’ll find a network of glorious back roads connecting the very best of France’s landscape: the countryside, vineyards, chateaux and coastline. There’s no better way to explore the slower pace of French life than with Back-Roads themselves, as part of their nine day itinerary: Voyage through Quintessential France. You’ll lock lips with rich red wines and taste your way through the region of Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy, while discovering monasteries and 18th century farmhouses, fine French food and fields of sunflowers. From sparkling wines to the extra clear waters of the Cote d’Azur, if you and your better half enjoy the finer things – and finer tastes – in life, get to grips with a guided holiday.
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