Saint-Valentin named after the Patron Saint of Lovers:
Deep in the heart of Champagne Berrichonne, in the Indre department, is the little village of Saint-Valentin which happens to be the only village in France carrying the name of the Patron Saint of Lovers.
With their village sharing the name of the Patron Saint of Lovers, the local community are committed to go all out to ensure that their commune is truly the “village of lovers”.
Each year, on the weekend closest to February 14, Saint-Valentin celebrates lovers on a scale that surpasses the size of their commune’s population of 285 inhabitants. Visitors to the village can enjoy the Jardin des Amoureux (Lovers’ Garden), le Saule aux Coeurs (the Willow of Hearts), la Maison des Amoureux (the Lovers’ House) with its post office and its Saint-Valentin boutique, the church, the kiosk and the many celebrations in the village.
Saint-Valentin’s Rise to Fame
Saint-Valentin’s international fame as “Lover’s Village” can be credited to one man – the town’s mayor. When Pierre Rousseau became mayor in 1983 he noticed that the community enjoyed the National Day of Lovers which the village had been celebrating since 1965. But after the 3-day weekend of enjoyment, and after the flowers that lined the houses had faded, Saint-Valentin was still an unknown village with no famous monuments, citizens or landscape to boast about. With the assistance of his city council, he set about to build a Lovers’ Park where each year lovers could come and plant a tree in the four-hectare park. The name of the owner and the botanical name of the tree are engraved on a plaque by the tree.
Raymond Peynet – a Friend of Saint-Valentin
Saint-Valentin’s fame improved when Raymond Peynet became a friend of the village. Peynet was one of France’s most popular artist and illustrator. In 1942, he came up with the characters of ‘Les Amoureux’ (The Lovers). His charming series of simple pictures of two lovers have delighted lovers all over the world and Peynet drew over 6,000 pictures of ‘The Lovers’. One of his works titled ‘Valentine’ was also used as the artwork on a stamp.
Each year Peynet offered one of his illustrations to the Saint-Valentin during its St. Valentine’s Day celebrations. With the illustrations gifted from Raymond Peynet, Mon. Rousseau got the idea to approach the postal agency to also put his commune on a first day cover for St. Valentine’s Day. The stamps were a huge success with tourists.
Saint-Valentin Wins the Hearts of Many Japanese
As luck would have it a master of a Buddhist temple in Yokohama read about Saint-Valentin and was interested in its Lovers’ Park. The Buddhist master had a farm project called “Love and Peace” and was very interested in Lovers’ Park. His approach to Saint-Valentin culminated in the twinning of the two parks and municipalities. What started as a the twinning of two small communities has lead to business relationships and Saint-Valentin is hugely popular with the Japanese.
Saint-Valentin’s international fame grew with further relationships established with towns in Austria, Canada and others and Saint-Valentin is now visited by celebrities and others who come to plant a tree or put a love message on the willow tree.
And so ends the lovely story of how Saint-Valentin won the hearts of many towns and people around the world and sealed its reputation as a village of lovers.
If you’re travelling in the Champagne region, call into Saint-Valentin and plant a tree, post a love message, enjoy Lovers’ Park and the hospitality of this village of lovers.Your Turn: Do you have any advice you would like to share? What tips would you like to add? Please comment below.