France is the most visited country in the world for good reason. Its varied landscapes, world-renowned food and drink and famous capital city draw millions of visitors every year, so how about getting married there?
Well, firstly there is the small issue that you have to have been resident for at least 40 days before you can legally marry in France. But, don't let that put you off. In France, French couples have two weddings, the legal one at the town hall and then a church blessing, and there's nothing stopping you doing the same. Legally marry at home and then have a blessing in France (it doesn't have to be in a church). This allows to you to make the most of this country's gorgeous scenery as there would be no restrictions as to where you can have the ceremony.
The Bordeaux region in the south west is one of those areas which everyone has heard of (due to its wine of course!) but less people visit than the popular regions of the Cote D'Azur, Paris and the Alps. Bordeaux city is very pretty and has been restored over the past decades to become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its docks used to export millions of bottles of wine all over the world, and now welcome the occasional cruise ship or sailing vessel instead. The town centre has wide boulevards linked by a multitude of narrow streets taking you to hidden squares filled with bars and restaurants serving excellent local food. There are several churches if you do fancy a religious ceremony, or you could embrace the atmosphere of the city and choose to marry by the river, have an outdoor ceremony in one of the squares or get married in one of the magnificent historic venues available for events.
Bordeaux may be the capital of the region, but venture out an hour to the east of the city and you'll come to the “Entre deux Mers wine” making area which makes for a more traditional French wedding destination. Bordeaux's wine comes from here and the whole countryside is covered in vines, which, combined with the rolling hills and windy roads make the landscape extremely picturesque. Many of the local chateaux host weddings and if you do choose to marry here you'll know you'll have absolutely excellent food and wine for your reception! If you've ever seen a wedding photo of the couple looking happy in a vineyard then it could well have been taken here. Chateaux which arrange weddings can usually be hired out for the week or weekend so you are able to have a completely private wedding and celebration, and enjoy spending time with your guests.
Bordeaux is situated in the Aquitaine region which was an English possession from 1154 – 1453. During that time the local towns fortified themselves by constructing walls around the town to protect against the French, and a lot remain fortified or “bastide” towns to this day. The honey gold local stone gives the region a warm glow when the sun comes out, just perfect for those wedding shots! One such town is the famous Saint Emilion, probably the most visited town in the region. Set on a cliff, the town's steep streets lead to the pretty main square which is filled with restaurants, and you can also walk around the town walls and look down over the valley below, again, a lovely spot to marry or take wedding photos (if you don't mind the tourists).
Bordeaux city is located at the mouth of two rivers, the Dordogne and the Garonne, which flow out to the Atlantic above the city. If you travel west from Bordeaux below the rivers, you come to the Atlantic coast with miles of wide open beaches and crashing waves which are used every summer for surfing competitions. This area also makes a beautiful setting for a wedding, less vineyards and more wild coastline or wedding under the pine trees with a BBQ reception. The largest sand dune in Europe is located here too, so how about a wedding by the sea with wedding photos taken on top of the Dune du Pyla, and a video of everyone running down the dune afterwards? It would definitely stand out as a wedding with a difference!
Whichever type of wedding ceremony you're looking for – romantic chateau, wild coastline, elegant city, you'll find it here in Bordeaux.
By Marry Abroad
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See France Wedding Planners here.
See France Marriage Laws here.
Real Life Weddings in France, Here