Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

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Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

This winter, leave the beaten track behind and treat your loved one to a romantic break. Hand in hand, explore cities you never considered visiting before.

Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

Nice – a sunshine break in the middle of winter

Nice is the perfect destination for lovers in search of beautiful winter days. In February, you can leave your coat and scarf at the hotel and enjoy the balmy weather outside. Start off on the world-famous Promenade des Anglais looking out over the Baie des Anges. The feeling of relaxation and of being at one with the world is immediate.

Before heading to Old Nice for a stroll through its alleyways, stop off at Place Masséna whose Pompeian red facades contrast with the white of the columns – the very colours of Valentine's Day. Head along Cours Saleya with its flower market, open every day except Monday. Stop and buy your loved one a rose – you are on a romantic break after all! Or maybe you would prefer a gourmet interlude, sampling the famous socca, a kind of thin, warm pancake made from chickpea flour.

You spend the rest of your getaway in the countryside behind Nice. Winding roads zigzag up to Tourrettes-sur-Loup where its amazing violet crepes are waiting for you. Enjoy this sweet-tasting local speciality at L'Épicerie restaurant. In February, tranquillity reigns supreme and shows the medieval village at its best, revealing its charms in all their glory.

If you are in the area between 16 February and 2 March 2019, make the most of the Côte d'Azur by joining in the euphoria of Nice Carnival. At some parades, over 100,000 flowers are thrown onto the streets of the city. Winter decks itself in a mantle of brilliant colours.

Nice flower market
Tuesday to Sunday from 6:00 a.m.
Cours Saleya
06300 Nice
France

L'Épicerie
15 place de la Libération
06140 Tourrettes-sur-Loup
France
+33 (0)9 51 34 66 99
www.facebook.com/lepicerietourrettessurloup/

Nice Carnival
16 February to 2 March 2019
+33 (0)4 92 14 46 14
en.nicecarnaval.com/

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Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

Washington – a cruise on the Potomac River

When you think of the US capital, the timeless photo of the never-changing facade of the White House comes to mind. On your city break for two, change your view point and see Washington from the calm waters of the Potomac River. And to make your getaway even more unforgettable, your cruise sets sail at night. Step on board your luxury boat. From the wide, floor-to-ceiling windows, you can admire the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963, the Georgetown neighbourhood, Roosevelt Island and its nature park, all from the warmth of your riverboat. The city's monuments with lights ablaze pass by as if in a dream. The evening continues with a sophisticated gastronomic dinner in an intimate ambiance, serenaded by a live quartet. Maybe take to the dance floor and make this decidedly romantic cruise last that little bit longer.

Next morning, make your way to the National Mall. This long and open park is home to the city's most illustrious monuments and museums: at one end is the U.S. Capitol, at the other the Washington Monument dedicated to the first president of the United States, close to the National Gallery. You are in the heart of one of the most symbolic places of the American nation. And if the snow makes an appearance, your Valentine's Day postcard will be all the more beautiful for it.

Dinner cruise on the Potomac

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Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

Cayenne – exotic paradise

Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, has become a one-of-a-kind destination, a far-cry from the stereotypical postcard destinations. Fly off to this paradise with its tropical fauna and flora. Stay at the Hotel Ker Alberte set in a former Creole residence from 1912. It has been superbly renovated and boasts a lush garden, just perfect for romantic strolls. Time seems to stand still, allowing you to discover the unique spirit of the place.

It is easy to reach the centre of Cayenne from this utterly charming, four-star holiday resort. In the central market, you are greeted by a riot of colours and fragrances, stalls piled high with exotic fruits and spices, not forgetting the stalls of rainbow-coloured fish with their unfamiliar names. Standing proudly in nearby Place des Palmistes is the Republic Column built in 1890 to celebrate the Storming of the Bastille and a statue of the iconic politician Félix Eboué. Take time out in the shade of one of the 200 royal palm trees while you enjoy a delicious cucumber salad.

As you wander through the streets, the town's cultural richness comes to light and its distinctive atmosphere soon works its magic on you. When you get back to the Hotel Ker Alberte, enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool. When evening comes, you choose Pakira for a romantic dinner on the banks of the Sinnamary River, one of the largest rivers in French Guiana. The views from its floating pontoon are just heavenly.

Hotel Ker Alberte
4 rue du docteur Sainte Rose
97300 Cayenne
French Guiana
+594 5 94 25 75 70
hotelkeralberte.com

Pakira restaurant
4 rue Constantin Verderosa
97315 Sinnamary
French Guiana
+594 5 94 34 50 49

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Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

Dakar – breathtaking sunsets

Start your romantic getaway to Dakar with a 360-degree panorama over the capital of Senegal. To do this, you need to climb the 198 steps leading up to the African Renaissance Monument. On the 15th floor, a spectacular view over the whole city awaits. In February, the sun shines, temperatures are very mild and the horizon stretches to infinity.

Next, head to the heart of the city to soak up its atmosphere. If art is your thing, you can easily spend an afternoon at the Village des Arts, an arts and research centre. Wander through some of its 52 workshops, discovering home-grown arts and crafts.

Later on, make your way to Pointe des Almadies, the westernmost tip of Dakar. Every day, droves of fishermen cross the Chaussée des Almadies, guided round the rocky reef by its lighthouse, to reach the fish-rich waters of the Atlantic. Settle down to enjoy a cocktail and then dinner as the sun gently dips into the ocean.

Spend your second day on the Îles de la Madeleine. A rowboat trip will take you to these tiny islands in next to no time. Arrive early to enjoy the serenity of this well-preserved nature park. Alone in the world, wander around, admiring cormorants, ospreys and other rare species of birds. Walking around the island with the sea at your side will fill you with emotion and make your Valentine's break truly memorable.

African Renaissance Monument
Nouvelle Route des Mamelles
Dakar
Senegal
+221 30 118 36 74

Village des Arts
Route de l'aéroport
L.S.S. BP 29831 Dakar Yoff
Senegal
+221 33 835 71 60

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Valentine's Day: 5 imaginative city breaks to wow your other half

Warsaw – wandering in a winter wonderland

The snow has cast its white cloak over the Polish capital, transforming it into an extraordinary urban landscape. Warmly wrapped up, make the most of this winter wonderland as you discover the charm and treasures of Warsaw. Head to Łazienki Królewskie Park, a 76-hectare haven of nature right in the middle of the city and much-loved by its inhabitants. In wintertime, everything seems unreal: you have the place almost to yourselves, with silence and dazzling white snow your only companions as you stroll together alongside the park's vast expanses of water. The magic continues as you come to the Palace on the Isle. The classical facade of the building, built on a small artificial island, is reflected in the waters of the lake.

Cross over one of two bridges to reach the villa-museum. From there, you can admire the classical-style amphitheatre, set on another island, home to performances in the summer months. Your day continues at the Hala Koszyki in the Mokotów district. This former Soviet market has been turned into a commercial centre with a big reputation. Inside, fashion boutiques line up alongside a traditional market and numerous specialist bars (Prosecco, beers, etc.). What a delightful way to spend a few hours. Dinner tonight is in the elegant setting of Brasserie Warszawska with its traditional zinc-topped bar, beautiful black and white floor tiles and caricatures of its regulars on the walls. Discover Warsaw's time-honoured atmosphere as you sample its European cuisine, with cuts of home-reared meat taking pride of place. Celebrate your love with a top-notch meal.

Łazienki Park
01-999 Warsaw
Poland
+48 225 060 028
www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl/en

Brasserie Warszawska
Górnośląska 24
00-484 Warsaw
Poland
+48 22 628 94 23
www.brasseriewarszawska.pl/www/index.php?jezyk=EN