With engagement season in full swing and couples starting their wedding venue search, it was the perfect time for the next installment in our series “How to plan a wedding in France”: How to find your wedding venue in France.
How to find your wedding venue in France
The wedding venue is the cornerstone of planning your wedding in France. Venue search and selection is the very first wedding planning topic we work on with our couples, and we have learned a lot about how to guide you to finding just the right setting for your celebration.
We’ve planned weddings in many, many, many(!) different areas of France and we love being able to provide such a broad array of options to our couples. After all, the perfect wedding venue is only perfect if it’s right for your vision!
Paris Wedding Venues
Pros of a Paris wedding
- Our favorite venues in Paris offer the best of the Parisian ideal: exceptional interiors with soaring ceilings, ornate chandeliers, marble fireplaces, gilt detailing; and sophisticated, elegant food and wine.
- Paris is a major tourist destination and many major cities offer direct flights at least once a day.
- There are plentiful hotels and apartment rental properties, offering accommodation for all levels of budget.
- You won’t need to worry about occupying your guests outside of the wedding festivities – Paris has an incredible variety of activities and sights to enjoy.
Cons of a Paris wedding
- Paris is a beautiful city, but it is a city. The wedding venues we love tend to be havens of peace, but once you’re outside, there can be crowds, traffic, noise….
- If your vision is for an outdoor or garden wedding, it’s best to look outside of Paris.
- A Paris wedding isn’t particularly more expensive than a wedding outside of Paris, but it does tend to have fewer events & activities. If you’re interested in a wedding weekend and lots of together time with your guests, you might prefer a venue outside of Paris.
- Our favorite Paris wedding venues tend to be best for up to 120 guests, so if you’re expecting a large guestcount a château or countryside venue might be the better choice.
Château, Villa and other French countryside Wedding Venues
France is not a huge country, but it is incredibly varied in its landscapes. Scattered around the country are the famous winemaking regions of Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy, as well as lesser known winemaking regions in the Loire Valley, Provence, and Côtes du Rhone just to name a few. There are some areas that are flat expanses, but much of the French countryside terrain features lovely, rolling hills, and of course there are the mountain regions of the Alps and the Pyrénées. There is extensive coastline, ranging from the rocky cliffs of Normandy and Brittany, to the surf beaches of southwestern France, to the chic boardwalks of the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera).
With all of this choice, how do you even narrow in on where to focus your search? One starting point is to think about the ambiance and feel of the day. Are you planning a formal affair, or a more laid-back atmosphere? Is dining under the stars high on your wish-list? Is there a particular type of activity you’d like to organize for your guests?
Before going into some of the specifics about the different types of countryside venues, a bit of insight into their pros and cons:
Pros of a French countryside wedding
- French countryside wedding venues lend themselves to wedding weekend festivities. If the venue has three distinct areas for the rehearsal (or welcome) event, the wedding day, and the brunch, so much the better! If not, we suggest keeping the wedding venue a surprise for the wedding day, and finding an offsite venue for the rehearsal (or welcome) event.
- The countryside venues we favor have accommodation on site, the more the better. That said, unless you’re having an intimate wedding, it’s unlikely that all guests will be able to stay on site.
- Countryside wedding venues usually allow you to pick your own caterer, giving you the flexibility to pick a classic caterer or a specialty caterer, as formal or laid back as you prefer.
Cons of a French countryside wedding
- Logistics are the main downside of a countryside wedding. We tend to recommend venues that are reasonably easy to get to, but even “easy” can mean multiple means of transport (planes, trains and automobiles!)
- Even if there is accommodation on site, in most cases some guests will have to stay off site. So there are also the logistics between the wedding venue and local accommodations to think about.
- A countryside wedding usually means there’s more thought that goes into what happens outside the wedding festivities. Some couples feel more of an obligation to plan additional meals and events to keep guests occupied and entertained.
French Château Wedding Venues
Château wedding venues can range from exceptional venues such as the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte, to other historic properties such as this former Cistercian Abbey, to classic venues such as this Loire Valley château. Château venues come in different shapes and sizes, from different periods in history, with different amounts of accommodation on site.
French château venues are usually located on extensive grounds, perfect for a beautiful outdoor ceremony followed by a cocktail hour in the gardens. French châteaux also have large indoor reception spaces with beautiful high ceilings and other lovely architectural details.
If there is a particular historical period you prefer, your search may lead you to certain areas of France. For example, the romantic châteaux of the Loire Valley date from the Renaissance onwards; the château fortresses of the Rhone Valley date from medieval times.
French Villa Wedding Venues
French villa wedding venues are typically located in what we broadly refer to as “the South of France”. The villa style can be very elegant but tends to be more of a laid-back refinement, such as this lovely villa near Aix-en-Provence.
Villa venues have accommodation – usually at most 10 guestrooms – which allows the immediate family or wedding party to stay on site. Villa venues also have lovely green spaces, however they often do not have indoor reception spaces, so a tent is usually required as a backup in case of inclement weather.
French Countryside Wedding Venues
French countryside wedding venues can be located anywhere in France, and can loosely be described as manors or estates. They can be located in the middle of vineyards in the Southwest such as this wine estate in Gascony, or amid the rolling pastures of Normandy such as this Normandy manor.
The properties can range in size, accommodation capacity, and reception configuration. They can offer great value for money, but in general these venues can be considered “off the beaten path”. That said, they are worth the trouble of getting to!
How to find your wedding venue in France
For more tips on how to find your wedding venue in France get in touch! We’d love to help you find your French wedding venue!
Looking for a wedding planner in France to guide you through your wedding planning journey? Tell us about your vision!
Postscript: I was delighted to have a chat with our past bride, Leslie, whose personal blog has gotten traction among couples embarking on their own wedding planning journeys. A recent post of hers gave a bit of insight on planning a wedding in France, with input from yours truly.