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Camille de Laitre of Paris, France knows very well that her home country is considered one of the most romantic places on the planet. But she warns: don’t just fall under Paris’ spell – there are hidden gems around the country perfect to fall in love, or for those already in love. With some help from Atout France’s new website, it reveals the lesser known parts of France – but here, Camille reveals some of France’s most unexpectedly romantic locations.

Amboise

Particularly romantic at night, Amboise is situated on the banks of the Loire River, and a 15th century castle reigns over the town. Once the home of the French royal court, today Amboise’s cobblestone streets are filled with gorgeous restaurants, cafés, bakeries, and boutiques and weekend’s see the town play host to a bustling farmer’s market. Take a tour of the underground maze of passageways to really remove yourself from everyday life!

Annecy

Whether you travel in summer or winter, Lake Annecy is breathtaking. Legend has it that after one kiss on the Pont des Amours bridge, you’ll be together forever. The lake is reported as the purest in Europe and in wintertime, you can skate across it with your love! The landscape is reminiscent of fairytales and its winding streets, quaint shops and lovely restaurants mean that romance is in the air – all the time. Another highlight? The charming canals that have given this city the nickname of “Venice of the Alps.”

Cassis

If being on the water is your idea of romance, Cassis will tick all the boxes. On the edge of the Calanques National Park (unexpectedly romantic in its own right), Cassis is romantic, pretty and full of surprises. From being far from reality on the sea, to immersing yourself in the culture, or spending a day a the nearby vineyards, it is all possible in Cassis. You’ll not only fall more in love with each other, but also with this village!

Eze

The French Riveria is of course known for being beautiful and a favourite spot for honeymooners. However, the village of Eze is lesser known but particularly romantic. Sitting at the top of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and St. Jean-Cap Ferrat, this medieval town offers much more than a stunning view. Narrow pathways wind through the village, revealing peaceful courtyards and hidden squares waiting to be discovered. Plus, Eze is also home to famed restaurant La Chevre d’or, boasting an incredibly beautiful vista from the dining room.

Josselin

In the heartlands of Brittany, Josselin looks like something out of a movie. Its 12th century medieval castle reigns over a town that looks perfectly suited to a fairytale. Brimming with sweet little cafes that are perfect for two, Josselin’s canal offers the potential to hire a boat for the day (or the hour), or you can escape to the nearby forest for a romantic walk in the woods.

All Images via Atout France

Ms Zebra Says: I just LOVE France and everything from the food (more cheese please!), to the wine, to the incredible scenery. Thanks Camille for shining a light on some of the places to try next….and where fall in love all over again!

About Atout France: With more than 83 Million people travelling to France each year, Atout France is a Tourism Development Agency that has built a promotional strategy based around 16 internationally renowned destination brands across the country. Thanks to its 33 offices across the globe and a close working relationship with embassies in nearly 70 countries, the Agency boasts expert knowledge of the different tourism markets.

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

The staff came to meet us at the helipad, and a chorus of “Bula!” greeted us as we settled on the ground and the rotor blades slowed on our chopper. It was a grand, ‘show-offy’ entrance after our 10 minute flight over stunning reefs, islands and all shades of blue. But it was worth it! Transfers from the mainland to Tropica Resort, on Malolo Island in Fiji’s Mamanuca group, can be via ferry, private boat, sea plane, or helicopter. We opted for the view (in other words, my partner wanted to check the surf).

There was singing and guitar and smiles and laughter. Hands thrust into ours and a warm “Bula Jacqui”, “Welcome to Tropica”; “Welcome to the family” “I’m…..”. Every one of the staff introduces themselves to the guests and remembers your name. From the maintenance man to the staff at the spa, the bar tender to the tender driver. You have become part of the Tropica family – and the hardest part about your stay will be remembering everyone’s names in return.

We padded along the white sand path (shoes are optional), more introductions, more smiles, more welcomes and we eventually arrive at our bure. Beach front and set into lush tropical gardens, with the requisite hammock out the front, tied between two coconut palms, our own infinity plunge pool with deck chairs and sweeping sunset views from the porch swing. Inside the bure it’s clean and white with tropical accents. The bathroom offers both indoor, and private outdoor shower options.

I was relaxed already.

And you can’t just leave it at that! The most you need to do, is wander up to the restaurant three times a day and enjoy the modern-Fijian fusion cuisine, featuring locally sourced ingredients and created by the chef. Dining at Tropica is the best I have experienced in Fiji – the menu is fresh, exciting, varied and above all, delicious. There is a half-board and full-board meal option meaning you can pay in advance and not give another thought to having all three courses for every dinner.

You can, of course, choose to do more than just relax and dine. The 25 metre infinity pool in front of the restaurant is a start, and at least one poolside cocktail is a must, isn’t it? From your poolside deck chair you may even choose to book in a massage or spa treatment.

But the Mamanuca Islands offer so much more! Our snorkel trip to the sand bar had me squealing with delight – I had never swum with so many fish, so many colours, shapes and sizes! I could have spent all day there with them but the promise of lunch at the resort got me back in the boat. I will know next time to take the ‘Sandbank Picnic’ option.

The following day I snorkelled the dramatic Garden Reef in the morning, marvelling at the coral contrasting against the deep blue of the drop-off, and spent the afternoon exploring above water on a stand up paddleboard. There are also hobie cats and kayaks available for use. Plus, boats to take you fishing, or across to the famous surf breaks of Fiji, such as Cloudbreak and other Restaurants. Each day includes optional extra activities such as cooking demonstrations, Fijian language lessons, walks, basket and hat weaving and so on. You really can do as little or as much as you please.

As an adults-only resort, there is a quiet about Tropica. The gentle strum of a guitar wafts along with the breeze, and the waves gently lap at the sand tinkling small pieces of coral together before the soft whoosh back again. It’s idyllic and serene.

This quiet is broken briefly at 6pm, as the conch signals the start of happy hour, and staff, dressed in traditional grass skirts, run along the shore and light the torches calling “Happy Hour!”. If you choose to, you can break away from your quiet and head to the sunset bar for cocktails with a view. While you may choose a romantic and secluded table to enjoy the evening, friendships are formed here – the resort caters to a maximum of 30 so that a family feel translates to the guests as well.

After dinner, either in the restaurant – or for a truly special experience a private table on the jetty or the beach – you can wander back to your bure to find at turn-down, by your bed, a message has been left in a bottle. Each night the message tells a different Fijian story of love. And with that story, the scent of tropical flowers, and the gentle lapping of waves along the shore, you are rocked to sleep.

Ms Zebra Says: I absolutely LOVE Fiji – however I’ve never heard of this beautiful island?! Thanks Jacqui for not only bringing it our (my) attention, but also for the fabulous insights to your dreamy holiday!

About Jacqui Turner: Photographer behind Running Under the Sprinkler, Jacqui is a photographer and storyteller. She takes any excuse to be travelling and barefoot and thinks it’s even better if it’s with her three kids!

 

Polka Dot Bride was lucky enough to feature this beautiful couple, Mia & Zak in their Classic Elegant Melbourne Wedding – and now they have taken us around the world with them as they spent their honeymoon travelling through The Maldives, Paris & Dubai! 

I couldn’t make up my mind on whether I wanted to go to the Maldives, Paris or Dubai for our honeymoon. So my husband made the decision to spend our honeymoon in all three locations!

MALDIVES

First up we stayed in the Maldives in an over water bungalow for 4 nights and 5 days at Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives. It was absolutely breathtaking! Pictures do not do the island justice and everyone needs to see it for themselves! Everything about the experience was exceptional.

We booked our stay through OVO Holidays and they were very helpful in providing options that suited our budget. We stayed at Grand Park Kodhipparu in an over water bungalow for the entire stay of 4 nights and 5 days. I would recommend booking an all inclusive stay as spending money on the island can become pricey as they trade in USD dollars.

Maldives is the perfect destination for couples! It was the perfect getaway for after the wedding. We were able to relax and sip on cocktails all day long whilst overlooking the Indian Ocean. We cannot wait to go back again to mark an anniversary!

PARIS

Our second destination was PARIS! I’ve forever wanted to visit Paris and it met all of my expectations! My husband and I were in awe the entire time! It feels as though you are in a real life painting when walking the streets! My husband studied The French Revolution when he was in University, so we were both in our element.

Contrary to what some people might say, Parisian people were very polite and very helpful! If you love cheese, french pastries, wine, and art you need to visit Paris on your honeymoon. There are endless things to do and it is the most romantic destination.

We stayed in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris and we were able to walk and easily take public transport. A cab driver told us we were staying in the perfect location as it was amongst university students which meant the streets were lively with cute bars and good cheap food.

If you’re in Paris, try to make sure you visit all the attractions and especially Versailles! I cannot even describe the Palace of Versailles – but you must see it for yourself. Side note, we have booked to go back next year! Its true what they say…Paris is always a good idea.

DUBAI

We were so glad we ended our trip with a stay in Dubai. We stayed in the breathtaking Atlantis, The Palm and it was worth every single penny! I would without a doubt stay there again.

There is just so much to do at the resort alone, that you don’t want to leave to see other areas of Dubai! The resort boasts endless options of restaurants, aquariums, bars, shopping and even a Starbucks! If you’re looking to chill by day, party by night then you must stay in Dubai. One of the best experiences of our life was partying at the Atlantis the Palm, until the early hours of the morning on the beach and being able to walk back to our room!

All images via Mia

Dubai has so much to offer from amazing food, endless shopping, desert safari, sand boarding, beaches, pools… and so, so much more. Dubai was a great end to our honeymoon and again, we cannot wait to go back!

Which was my favourite honeymoon destination you ask? I loved them all and recommend all of these destinations for a memorable experience.