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The Northern Advocate (Nouvelle-Zélande)

Romance with a twist.

Warm sultry nights perfumed with the heady fragrance of roses in full bloom,

evening skies studded with the glow of a million bright stars, the caressing touch of a soft summer’s breeze… Yes, it’s the season for love; and all over New Zealand, young and old alike are rediscovering their passions with a little romance. It may seem a world away, but Paris-based company ApoteoSurprise is in the romance business; offering a service quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before…

“Everyone has dreamt of declaring their love or proposing in a truly original way,” says Apoteo Surprise founder Nicolas Garreau. A qualified aeronautical engineer, Garreau started this business in 2006; calling it “the fruit of the desire to offer couples visiting

Paris exquisitely romantic experiences based on enchanting scenarios”. Indeed, the options given in the ApoteoSurprise catalogue range from the fairly predictable (a limousine ride to a signboard flashing your declaration of love) to the somewhat

bizarre (strolling through a wax museum, and having one of the ‘wax statues’ come to life; offering your beloved a parchment containing your proposal) “Why not seize the opportunity of having the most romantic city in the world as your enchanting

backdrop to passionately declare your love?” reasons Garreau.

This is just one of the romantic surprises on offer: You’ll be transported in a chauffeured vehicle to a waiting horse and carriage. This horse and carriage will carry you and your beloved through a medieval forest, along a rutted country path. Here is the description in Garreau’s own colourful language… “While dozily waddling along with the equine vibrations of your romantic ride, you’ll be able to breathe in the divine scents of a rich and perfumed flora. The majestic foliage of several century old oak, beech, linden, pine and chestnut trees will gracefully salute you. You’ll lovingly allow yourself to be rocked in your gentle cradle of love like a truly seigniorial couple, while the rich, shaded scenery will add an ounce of sweet mystery to your journey…”

To continue in a somewhat less prosaic fashion: Your relaxing carriage ride will be interrupted by two men – one on horseback, and one on foot – fully kitted out to resemble 16th Century bandits; complete with swords. As these men scramble onto your carriage, intent on plundering everything they can get their hands on, your valiant footman will gallop at full speed crying for help. In response to these cries, a prince will appear; and will immediately set about vanquishing the lawless brigands. Through swordplay and dramatic fight sequences, the bandits are run off; and the honourable prince will approach your carriage, dip his horse into a curtsey, and offer up a parchment revealing a message of love from your sweetheart. Your carriage will then be escorted to the safety of the castle (of course there’s a castle! This is France, remember?) where a gourmet picnic lunch will be waiting for you, spread out upon the flowing castle grounds. Champagne will flow, the delicious lunch will be consumed, and your day will be complete. If this doesn’t get her to say yes, guys, I’m afraid you might want to give up altogether!

With over seventeen options to choose from, ApoteoSurprise can offer anything from the clichéd hot air balloon ride, to the more unusual 1001 Nights

castle experience – it all just depends on your tastes, and, of course, your budget!

Emma Jelsma

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