Paris may be considered one of the most romantic capital cities in the world, but if you’re looking for kissing connoisseurs, you’d better head south to Roquemaure in the Gard region. The fun begins the weekend following Valentine’s Day when the whole town goes on a free wine and free kissing binge (yes, on the lips!) called Fete de la Baiser (Kissing Festival)
(By the way, you want to be careful with the word for kiss i.e. ‘la baiser’, ‘les bises’, or ‘bisous’. Depending on its context, it can much more than a kiss!)
Don’t be surprised if you get a big smooch from a nun (that is, one of many local residents dressed in costumes for the occasion).
All of the fanfare is supposed to honor St. Valentine (who, if you start looking the Roman Catholic church’s history of saints) appears to be one of those mystery saints. There was so little actual information about St. Valentine (of which there were several by that name in different time periods) that the Church finally decided to cross him off the list of actual saints in the 1960s.
Which makes the Roquemaure St. Valentine’s day kissing fest even more remarkable because part of this celebration involves parading the expunged saint’s relics around town. According to some histories of the lives of saints, St. Valentine was one of the martyrs executed by emperor Claudius because he illegally performed marriage ceremonies for Roman soldiers.
Others suggest that the St. Valentine’s Day was used to replace an older Roman fertility celebration. Whatever the facts may be, any reason to break out the wine and steal a kiss in the middle of February sounds like a good idea. However, if you want to get to Roquemaure from Paris, you had better hurry. Winter school holidays begin next week and trains will undoubtedly be jam-packed.
How I do I get from Paris to Roquemaure?
Roquemaure is located in the Cotes du Rhone wine region of France or the region known as Gard.
You can still get there in time for weekend festivities if you hop on a TGV (Tres Grand Vitesse) bullet train from Paris to Lyons with a connection for Orange. From Orange, Roquemaure is about ten kilometers by car. If you haven’t tried France’s Cote du Rhone wines, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. These are very nice wines especially to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.
Trains departing Feb. 15 2008
Travel Time: 4 hr 13 min
PARIS GARE DE LYON 18h54 TGV DUPLEX 6689
LYON PART DIEU 20h51
LYON PART DIEU 21h02 CORAIL 4265
Arrive: ORANGE 23h07