village dedicated to love Photo © Mairie
The little village of Saint Valentin (pop.280) in
the department of Indre within the Centre Val de Loire Region,
has, since the 1980's, taken advantage of its name to promote itself
as 'The Village of Love'. Some forward thinking by the then mayor
Pierre Rousseau led to the creation of the Lovers’ Garden'
(Jardin des Amoureux), plus an annual festival
around St. Valentine's Day.
Residents deck their homes in blooms, the lovers'
garden open its gates and the village is turned over to red hearts
Lovers may marry in the garden gazebo, attach
their amorous wishes to the Tree of Vows, plant a tree in honour of
their marriage or anniversary, or commemorate their love on the 'Tree
of Eternal Hearts'. Romantic couples from all over France and even further afield join with
the locals in the celebrations.
There is a programme of dining, dancing, an
evening of cabaret plus a bridal gown show
and a fireworks display to round things off.
Way back in 2010 we visited the village on the 14th February,
purely for research purposes of course and despite a very cold day
were very comfortable within the temporary 'salle des fetes'. The
company, food and entertainment were good and we even had the
inevitable surprise proposal and acceptance from a young couple in
As we left the village and the celebrations we did think that
it was a shame that a day in July had not been picked to celebrate
this honourable man - but then the village opens its doors to
tourists all the year round to allow them to buy uniquely stamped
valentines and postcards from the village's post office plus other
souvenirs or simply stroll in the lovers' garden.
For more information on the town of Saint-Valentin,
or to make reservations, contact the tourist office
Phone - (33) 02 54 21 41 77
View in Larger Map and get directions
Where does Valentine’s Day originate? One theory is that it stems from a law imposed by the emperor Claudius at the beginning of the third century. This prevented soldiers from getting married, as it was believed that men who were celibate made better soldiers. A priest named Valentine disregarded this rule as he felt it unjust and married young couples in secret. When the emperor learned of these clandestine marriages, he had Valentine imprisoned. The origin of the Valentine card is believed to be because, from his jail cell, the priest left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine”, a message we use to this day. It is said that Valentine, patron saint of lovers, was beheaded on February 14, 270 AD.
sceptics say it was all the
invention of the greetings card
Valentine's Day is also celebrated every year in Saint-Amour-Bellevue in Burgundy, where couples can renew their marriage vows. The package includes a ceremony at the town hall, a concert in the church, a celebratory reception and a candlelit dinner.
Further information is available from the Saint-Amour-Bellevue tourist office.
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