Your dream France elopement – the ultimate planning guide
UPDATED FOR 2024-2025
Ancient Europe meets food, wines and beautiful landscapes in France. If you’ve chosen to plan your elopement in France, but you’re not sure where to start, I wrote this guide just for you!
Since 2013, I have helped more than 100 couples plan their dream elopement in France. In this guide, I’ll show you the most beautiful places to elope in France, the best venues, the legalities, as well as elopement tips and tricks to help you plan this magical day!
Let’s dive in…
Welcome to the Adventure of a Lifetime
Hey there, I’m Amber! I’m your elopement photographer and planner – your one-stop-shop for absolutely everything you need for a magical, incredible elopement day.
When you elope in France, finding a photographer that you connect with is so important! While I’ll be there to document your day and take photos, my job goes beyond that. As an elopement photographer and travel planner, I’ll be your guide as you discover what your perfect wedding day looks like. I’ll help you find the right place to tie the knot in France, help you with flights, accommodations, and things to do, and I’ll make sure that the day you get married is exactly what you want!
First, let’s be sure we’re talking about the same thing:
What is an elopement?
An elopement is an intimate wedding ceremony including 2 to 20 people (couple included) that is organized when a couple doesn’t feel like being the center of attention and wants a “just us” wedding day.
The elopement is planned just like a laid-back wedding with a very meaningful part: the ceremony and the vows exchange. This is generally done in a beautiful place, like on top of a mountain, in a lush garden or on a beach at sunset.
Afterwards, the couple celebrates in a very minimalist way with their closest friends and family, and sometimes even leave on a getaway together one or two days after the ceremony.
NOTE: In France, elopements are not a legal way to get married. There will be more on that in this article about how to get married in France.
Why you should plan an elopement in France
In general, France has a beautiful weather that can be enjoyed most of the year, in almost every part of the country. Even if the northern parts are get more rain than the other areas, the summers are still very hot and sunny. The winters are just as beautiful: plan an elopement in the French Alps and enjoy jaw-dropping panoramas over snow-covered mountains and peaks.
Whether you’re dreaming of eloping in Paris, or on top of a secluded mountain, you will find everything you’re looking for in France. From dramatic mountains ranges (the Alps, the Pyrénnées, the Massif Central…) to sandy beaches in the south all the way to cities boasting with life and cultural assets, you will truly have an embarrassment of choices, when it comes to choosing the best place for your elopement in France.
Delicious food and wines
It’s not a myth. Food and wines truly are delicious in France. All the regions have their own dishes and you can enjoy many different tastes wherever you visit. Just be sure to check the TripAdvisor reviews from French visitors to make sure that you eat in a truly delicious restaurant. Menus with a “plat du jour” generally cost around €30 ($35) and have an entrée, a main course, a dessert and a coffee. Don’t forget that tips are not mandatory in France (but much appreciated!).
How to elope in France legally
If you or your family don’t have a legal residence in France (for instance a holiday home) it won’t be possible for you to get legally married in France, as it’s one of the European destinations not authorizing legal weddings for foreigners. All my couples choose to have a symbolic ceremony instead and to have a short court wedding back home!
For couples from the US:
In some states, it’s possible to obtain authorization from the county clerk to sign your wedding license while abroad. With this authorization, as a registered minister, my team and I will be able to legally perform your wedding ceremony in France! This can save you time and effort in planning a hassle-free wedding.
How to Get to France for Your Elopement
Part of your elopement adventure is the journey to your destination! France is easy to reach by plane, train, and even ferry, so you’ll have a few options when it comes to getting here.
Get to France by Plane
France has international airports in a lot of its big cities, and smaller regional airports in just about every part of the country. So, no matter where you’re tying the knot, it’s easy to get to France on an airplane! The biggest airport, and the one with the most flights, is in its capital – Paris. When you’re traveling internationally, this is likely where you’ll land. From here, you can take a domestic flight to one of the smaller airports, or reach your final destination by driving or taking the train.
Get to France by Train
France is also pretty easy to get around in by train, and if you’re traveling from neighboring countries in Europe, the train can be a less expensive, more environmentally friendly option for reaching your elopement destination. You can also take a flight to Paris, then hop on a train to get to any of the other major cities.
Get to France by Ferry
There are a few different fairy routes that go between France and some of the neighboring countries – including the UK, the Channel Islands, and Italy. Traveling by ferry can be fun, as you can extend your elopement and stop in a few different places!
Getting Around France During Your Elopement
While you’re in France for your elopement, you’ll need a way to get around. If you’re traveling between cities, taking the train is easy and inexpensive. The railway system centers around Paris, so if you’re traveling between smaller towns, it can be more time-consuming – but journeys to and from Paris are typically pretty fast!
For more rural areas, where there aren’t as many train lines, buses travel around the countryside. However, these services are somewhat sparse and can be slow, and having a car is definitely the most convenient option.
Renting a car for your elopement will provide the most flexibility, especially if you travel in the countryside or want to visit more remote, rural areas to see France’s gorgeous scenery when you elope! Traffic in the cities gets pretty congested, and many of the train stations have rental cars available – so if you’re traveling between cities in France, it’s often easier to take the train and then rent a car once you’re at your final destination.
One thing to know if you travel to France, is that car break-ins are something you should be aware of! Especially in the south of France, make sure to take valuables with you, lock the car, and keep items out of sight.
Did you know?
As an elopement guide and photographer in France, I offer a reassuring service to all my couples by providing complimentary transportation throughout their elopement journey. This ensures that you can fully immerse yourselves in the joy of your elopement experience while I take care of all the logistics with expertise and care.
Lodging for Your Elopement in France
When you elope in France, you’ll need somewhere to sleep, as well as a home away from home to come back to after a day of adventures! You can choose to stay in the same spot through your trip, or travel around the country and find different accommodations throughout so that you can explore more of France. Here are a few options for lodging in France!
Hotels in France
Hotels tend to be a convenient option for travelers, and France has plenty of options, ranging from luxurious spas to more laid-back hotels! One of the best places to stay in Paris if you want a truly five star experience is the La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa. The grand hotel offers high-end accommodations, and you can even get views of the Eiffel Tower. Another option to check out is the Chateau La Chenevièr, which is a former mansion surrounded by gorgeous gardens and has a tennis court, a heated pool, and more!
Airbnbs in France
Another option when it comes to finding lodging for your elopement in France is to search Airbnb. Airbnbs are typically more private than a hotel room, as you can get the whole place to yourself!
Airbnb is also a great way to find unique accommodations that will really add to your elopement experience, and France has lots of cool options. You’ll find rustic tree houses, tiny homes tucked in a meadow, chalets that can host some friends and family, and more!
Camping in France
A really great way to get out in nature and experience the gorgeous landscape of your elopement destination is with camping. If you’re an outdoorsy couple who loves adventure, this can be a fun experience for your elopement.
Typically, you can’t wild camp in France, unless you have permission from the land owner. But, you can stay at an established campsite, many of which will have some amenities for you. If you want to combine the rustic experience of getting outdoors with the comfortable amenities of modern life, you can also check out unique glamping sites!
Did you know?
When you book your elopement experience with me in France, I’ll provide you with access to my concierge service. I’ll personally recommend exceptional hotels and connect you with talented local vendors to ensure your elopement is nothing short of extraordinary.
Top 5 locations for an elopement in France
You can read the full article here
Because you can’t talk about an elopement in France and don’t mention Paris. Even if there are tons of other jaw-dropping locations in France, Paris is still the most accessible, varied, cultural and food-oriented city in France.
If you’re dreaming of hot sun, dried stone walls and beautiful perched villages on top of every other hill, Provence is just for you! Enjoy delicious strolls on the cobbled streets of little villages, while eating a home-made ice cream. You can also discover antique shops, before going back to your luxury hotel and eat a local dish.
Have you ever heard of Auvergne? It is because this region of France is overlooked. It is a shame because it has some of the most beautiful mountains you will ever find. And since it doesn’t get many tourists, most places are still secluded, wild and untouched.
The Alps are perfect in every season for an elopement in France. You will find beautiful peaks and magnificent chalets, perfect for an elopement outside and epic couple pictures. If you’re planning a winter elopement in France, don’t forget to prepare accordingly, when choosing your wedding attire.
Corsica is an island located south of Provence in the Mediterranean Sea. Its beauty lies in its variety, as you will find both beaches and dramatic mountains. You will also be able to enjoy the picturesque views of ancient villages, while enjoying the most delicious delicatessen and cheeses.
Did you know?
There is so much more to discover in France than Paris. When you decide to book your elopement with me, I will curate a personalized list of 4 to 5 extraordinary off-the-beaten-path destinations that align seamlessly with your unique preferences. Allow me to guide you to France’s hidden treasures, far from the typical tourist spots, for an elopement experience like no other.
The best time for an elopement in France
The weather is usually very nice in France. However, you need to remember some important facts, when planning your elopement in France.
Winter can be very cold, with temperatures as low as -30°C (-22°F) in the winter in the Alps. However, if you’re planning accordingly and avoid the big ski season, you should be able to hike and find a secluded place relatively easily. Be careful since avalanches are very common, if you don’t walk on the trails. Be sure to contact the nearest tourist office to check where you can hike during the snow season.
You should try to avoid the months of March and April for your elopement in France, since these months are generally the dull and gloomy. Trees are still bare and the weather can be bad with frequent hail storms. If you wish to plan a spring wedding, it is best to have it at the end of April or during the whole month of May. This period is nicer and filled with beautiful green leaves on the trees, flowers in the fields and grass growing everywhere.
If you don’t like hot weather, try avoiding eloping to France during the summer. This season can be very hot, with temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F) in all regions of France. The peak temperatures are generally reached in the beginning of July. Therefore, if you’d still like to elope during the summer, try the fourth week of August or the entire month of September. At this time, it is generally still very warm and nice. You will also avoid the big harsh sun.
Fall is generally warm and beautiful. The weather is still nice, and you can enjoy adventurous hikes, while not stepping in mud. The trees also put on a colorful display. Try the Southern Alps to see the larches with full colors of reds/oranges/yellows. The deep forests of Auvergne are also a treat for the eyes during that season.
Unique Things to Do When You Elope in France
Eloping gives you the freedom to create your own adventure, to plan a wedding day that’s perfectly you.
When you elope, make sure that you plan some adventures and activities that will truly make this the best day ever!
France has so many incredible things to do, but here are just some ideas to consider for your elopement.
Visit the Museums
France is known for being a center of art and culture. If you’re interested in art or history, you can explore so much in the cities of France. The Louvre is the most popular museum, featuring some of the greatest art pieces of all time! There are plenty of other museums to check out, as well as beautiful churches, stunning architecture, and more.
Go for a Bike Ride
Biking is really popular in France, and many people use a bike to get from place to place! The Loire Valley features an 800 km bicycle route that travels along the river, and riding through the medieval towns, renaissance châteaux, and gorgeous views is a great way to explore France! You can also head to the mountains to mountain bike, or just rent a bike to explore the cities.
See the Lavender Fields
One of the most unique things you can do when you elope in France is see the lavender fields! From mid June through August, the fields in Provence are in bloom, covering the landscape in a gorgeous sea of blue. It’s a truly stunning sight, and if you plan your elopement day around the blooming fields, it’s a really magical experience!
What to wear for your elopement in France
Although elopements are usually considered to be laid-back and casual, this is not necessarily the case. Elopements can also be luxurious, delicate affairs that will require some special adjustments. Feeling beautiful while exchanging your vows and wearing something truly special for this moment, might be something you truly care about. This section will cover everything you need to know, when it comes to what to wear for your elopement in France.
It should be flowing, light and delicate. Avoid tulle since it has a tendency to get stuck everywhere, especially if you’re planning an elopement outdoors.
If you’re planning an elopement during the hotter months, consider a shorter dress or a very light option. Therefore, you won’t be too hot, while strolling from place to place during your couple photoshoot.
If you’re planning a winter elopement, choose layered clothes and avoid big puffy jackets. They might stand out too much in your pictures. Choose a long-sleeve dress and add a poncho and a nice bohemian woolen scarf for a complete look.
Depending on where you’d like to elope, the type of shoes is essential. For traditional weddings, high heels are very common. However, since you are probably going to be doing a lot of walking and even hiking if you’re planning an adventure elopement in France, you will need to choose other shoes. Try to find some leather hiking shoes for an added touch of sophistication (and to beautify your elopement pictures). Don’t forget to plan for the weather. If you are eloping in winter, warm waterproof boots will be necessary. On the other hand, eloping in summer might require some well- ventilated hiking boots that will allow your feet to perspire freely and to avoid some very sore feet at the end of the day!
Just like the dress, when you choose your suit, you should think about the details of your special day. Have you planned an adventure elopement with a four-hour hike to get to that beautiful peak with a view? Avoid three-piece suits, since you will be much too hot to hike in them. If you’re planning a winter elopement, try to find a luxurious woolen suit that will add an extra layer of warmth, while still being breathable and very beautiful. Try to match your styles and don’t forget to find more inspiration on Pinterest!
Other things to consider
Find a backpack that will contain everything you will need (another pair of shoes, extra layers for warmth, even in summer – temperatures can drop very quickly once the sun sets, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, a first-aid kit, water, snacks, your vows, your phone, an emergency battery charger, cleaning wipes and a water pouch for your bouquet).
Of course, these things won’t be needed for a city elopement in Paris!
Example budget of an elopement in France
When it comes to elopement budgets, I understand the challenges of providing a precise estimate for vendors outside of my own expertise. The cost can greatly vary depending on your chosen destination and the quality of vendors you desire.
Elopement expenses are significantly influenced by factors like your chosen location. Rather than providing generic budget estimates for vendors I don’t work with, I recommend exploring my elopement packages. They include all-inclusive options, giving you a clearer view of your budget and costs.
Latest elopements in France
Discover here the latest elopements in France I had the chance of planning and photographing.
With a magical train ride up the mountain and a mystical ceremony in the fog.
Followed by a magical sunset session on top of a mountain
With a magical itinerary along castles and medieval towns.
Followed by a magical picnic at sunset with an incredible view
With an incredible ceremony in a ruined abbey and a trip to the Mont Saint Michel
Eloping in France – your checklist
Think about where you’d like to go
When you’re imagining your elopement, does it take place in a city or the countryside? Is it on a mountain,beach or a little village? This question will be crucial for your elopement planning, since it will determine where you should start searching for places to elope, like venues or hikes you could take for your ceremony.
Pick a date
Don’t forget to take into account that crowds can be VERY heavy in some tourist places in France, so plan accordingly. Try to avoid the summer months, if you’re planning on eloping in a popular tourist area of France (Paris, Bordeaux, Provence, French Riviera, Dordogne). In general, you should try to consider weekdays, since they will also be less crowded. Don’t forget that you can have your ceremony one day, and plan a whole trip afterwards to take pictures in other parts of France.
Find more information about travel visas
You don’t want to be stuck at the last minute with everything paid for and not being able to make it to France. Contact your embassy or an agency specialized in visas to sort everything out first. Travelling to France is usually very easy, since it is the first tourist location in the world. Be sure that you have everything you need, before planning anything further.
Book your accommodation
Once you’ve found your area and date, you can start looking for accommodations that you will like. Don’t forget to check websites like AirBnB, HomeAway and Booking.com to find the best possible options. You can even select luxury rentals on AirBnB!
Find a place to exchange your vows
Some accommodations, especially exclusive rentals, will have a beautiful place for your ceremony. It could be a garden, a little nearby forest or a nice hike atop a mountain or a beach. However, there are some that don’t offer this option. You can, therefore, check out hikes nearby to pick your favorite and start planning your day accordingly.
Book your other vendors
Florist, officiant, decorator, private chef, dress designer, wedding rings…these are all things you will need to take care of, while planning your elopement in France.
Plan your travel
If you’re dreaming of travelling around France, then you can plan a whole road-trip across the most beautiful places in France. Renting a car is easy and will allow you to go from one place to another very easily. Try to plan at least three weeks to see everything there is to see, or at least 10 days to see the essence of France. My pick is Paris, Normandy, Brittany, Bordeaux, Dordogne, Lot, Provence, Alps and back to Paris.
Book your photographer
Elopement photographers are generally booked six-12 months in advance, so try to contact your favorite ones as soon as you have booked your date, travel and accommodations. Choose your photographer based on what you can see on his/her website and his/her experience in shooting weddings in France. Local photographers are preferable, since they won’t need a permit to work in France (which can be extremely hard for foreigners to get).
DOES FRANCE SOUND LIKE YOUR DREAM?
How to plan your peaceful elopement in France with me
Let’s dive in, so you can start your journey right away!
Imagine a wedding where you can be you. Breathe. Bask in each other’s love.
Experience a place close to your hearts, or a bucket-list dream.
Inspiration for your France elopement
Here are some photos I created with my amazing past couples to inspire you!
Are you eager to start planning your elopement in France? I’m here to help you envision, plan and immortalize this beautiful adventure! Contact me now for a free consultation!