ANDY DUNCAN REVEALS HIS TOP THREE ROMANTIC LOCATIONS IN FRANCE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY... AND BEYOND
France has long been associated with romance, so where better to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Its capital city, Paris, is often referred to as the city of love, but Francophiles have fallen in love (with people and places) right across the country.
I am always struck by the fact that all of our readers’ Real Life articles are, in essence, love stories. Whether it’s married couples seeking adventure in their autumn years; young families bowled over by a different, more peaceful, way of life; or intrepid singletons like the Telegraph columnist and bestselling author of the La Folie books, Michael Wright, who head off to the country alone, but hope in their hearts.
So, with Valentine’s Day this month, I have picked three of my favourite romantic French locations for those who want to celebrate 14 February in style. And, if you want to turn a holiday romance into something more lasting, we take a little look at the property market in each place too.
Paris is the distilled essence of the culture, flair and romance for which the French are renowned. The extraordinary Eiffel Tower is, arguably, the most recognisable landmark of any city in the world, and affords spectacular views across the French capital. Bu Paris boasts many other famous monuments, including the Arc de Triomphe, as well as the architecture of Georges Haussmann, whose distinctive style has so defined many of Paris’ arrondissements. You could spend a lifetime walking the vibrant, fragranced streets of this glorious city and still find previously undiscovered cafés, where you can enjoy a coffee and watch this unique world go by. Indeed, simply walking and soaking up the ambience is one of the best things to do here, maybe stopping to eat an improvised picnic of baguette and pâté on the banks of the Seine. Gastronauts among you will also be delighted by the sensory indulgence of the many speciality food shops here, not to mention the countless restaurants where you can enjoy a little dinner à deux.
Many writers, artists and philosophers have been drawn here over the years. This is reflected in the culture in which Paris is steeped today. My personal highlights include the Louvre and the Musée Rodin. Rodin is, of course, famous for that most romantic of sculptures, The Kiss
If you find yourself pining for Paris after a spellbinding long weekend, you might have to dig deep. Paris property prices have experienced a remarkable surge of 19.1% over the past year, according to the Chambres des Notaires de Paris. The average price for an apartment is an eye-watering €8,360/m2. The average for the rest of France (excluding Île de France) is €2,310/m2. Within Paris itself, there is some variation. The most expensive arrondissements are those that flank the Seine – the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, with the seventh currently the priciest at €12,650/m2. Those within the 10th, 18th, 19th and 20th are the least expensive, though even the cheapest, the 19th, is still €6,350/m2.
Béatrice Freville, of Côté Acheteur Paris , observes that: 'Prices in Paris are steady – we do not think it will decrease. The capital has a rich architectural mix, with styles such as the distinctive Haussmann designs and art déco. The most commonly available properties are two-bed apartments and studios. We find that British buyers don’t have a typical budget as such, but they do go for older houses in lively districts with food shops, or in the historical district around arrondissements three, four, five and six.”
The historical district of Marais spans Paris’s third and fourth arondissements. You could have your own piece of it, with a two-bed apartment on the second floor of a hotel particuleur – €885,000 (www.coteacheteur.com)