Paris, France (Photo by flickr user macropoulos)
I've always believed that everything French equaled Romance. I believed it so much that I learned French, thought I would marry a Frenchman and live in France. Of course, I've since outgrown that notion (the Frenchman part), but it made me think about what really makes a destination "Romantic". Is it the location, the people, the food, the language, some magical dust that is sprinkled in the air? I mean, what really makes a place "the" place to go for lovers and those who want to find love?
I consulted the MSN Encarta and their definition of romance is "A spirit or feeling of adventure, excitement, the potential for heroic achievement, and the exotic." It can also mean, "fascination or enthusiasm with something, especially of an uncritical or inexplicable kind", and might I also add to that, the idea of seclusion. Now, we all know that France, Italy and Rome easily conform to these definitions, but what about the other countries and cities of the world? In my travels, there are three that stand out in my mind as good places for kindling and keeping the flame alive.
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Maui, HawaiiA Hammock just for two (Photo by flickr user muha)
Maui is my favorite of the Hawaiian islands because it's got charm, it's laid back, and yet full of things to do. From the time you arrive at the airport you feel as though you're getting ready to be pampered. The meet and greet with the lei made me feel enchanting, like some kind of princess with a string of fresh cut scented flowers around my neck. The fresh pacific ocean breeze fills your lungs and you realize this is what life is supposed to be!Maui Beach Sunset (Photo by flickr user janruss)
Whether it's a sunset walk along the beach, a stolen kiss 800 ft above in a tandem para-sail or exploring the beauty of the ocean together on a snorkel trip...Maui is the place to be for romance! The unique Polynesian culture lends an element of exoticism - from the language, to the food, to the dances - that makes you want to immerse yourself and kindle the flame.
Laurentian Mountains, Quebec (Canada)
Laurentian Sunset (Photo by flickr user justin lucarelli)
What I find intriguing and romantic about the Laurentian region is the feeling of seclusion, the adventure, the unspoilt beauty and of course there's that French influence everywhere. At this time of year there's plenty of white, snow capped mountains, fresh crisp air, and frosty, starry nights creating a dreamy ambiance and plenty of excuses to snuggle up next to your loved one by the fireplace.
Spa Massage (Photo by flickr user aggiecarrie)
The Laurentian Mountains are well known in Quebec for their abundance of health spas. One of the key things that kill romance is bad health or a lifestyle that's too hectic. If that sounds like you, I would highly recommend a weekend spa getaway in the Laurentian Mountains and add to that some playful frolic in the snow...sounds like a recipe for romance to me!
Branson, Missouri (USA)
Yes you read right. I know Branson is a place filled with endless country music shows, and family entertainment but there is a quaintness to this place that I feel lends to romance.
Nestled amongst the picturesque Ozark Mountains, Branson affords lovers the opportunity to feel adventurous, excited, and secluded. Branson Landing for one, is a lovely courtyard type waterfront promenade lined with stores like Victoria's Secret (ooh la la!), and Bath and Body Works, overlooking Lake Taneycomo. As you walk along, clever street lamps play relaxing music.Branson Landing (Photo by flickr user illuminatingconcepts)
Then there's the fire and water show where fire leaps and water spouts to the rhythm of the music. And not to be missed is a horse drawn carriage ride just for two that takes you out to the lake...my friend and I did that one and it was nice! I must also mention the gourmet dinner cruises on Table Rock Lake and the many nature trails waiting to be explored.
In terms of hotels, there are two Hilton hotels (one right on the Branson Landing), the four diamond rated Chateau On The Lake hotel and spa, and if you prefer more seclusion, there are gorgeous fully loaded cottages tucked away in the hills.
Now that I've shared my hot spots for romance, I'm eager to know what makes a destination romantic for you and which cities around the world top your list!