Dream Honeymoon | France

A trip more than five years in the making, our two week adventure through France on our dream honeymoon was more than we could have ever imagined. Over the years, every time we sat down to plan out the trip, budget, learned someplace new from a friend or French teacher, our list of places grew and grew. Our planning led to an extensive, some may say aggressive, itinerary taking us through multiple climates, regions, and checking bucket list items off left and right.

Here’s a snapshot of our itinerary over 12 days…in case you are eager to replicate it yourselves.

Day 1: Paris

Day 2: Giverny, Normandy, Bayeux

Day 3: Bayeaux, Mont Saint Michel

Day 4: Bordeaux

  • Bordeaux Cathedral, Grand Theatre, Place de la Bourse, Miroir d’Eau (Water Mirror), Esplanade des Quinconces, Pont de Pierre, Rue Sainte-Catherine
  • Hotel: Hotel le Continental

Day 5: Carcassonne

  • Cite de Carcassonne (Citadel), Chateau Comtal (Castle and Ramparts), Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus
  • Hotel: Best Western Hotel le Donjon

Day 6: Avignon

  • Lavender Fields (not yet in bloom), Palais des Papes, Pont d’Avignon, Place de l’Horloge, Opera d’Avignon
  • Hotel: Hotel de l’Horloge

Day 7: Arles, Marseille

Day 8: Calanques de Cassis, Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo

Day 9: Nice

Day 10: Chamonix

Day 11: Paris

Day 12: Paris

Day 13: Flight back

Each stop had one or two must-sees that were preplanned, everything else we saw was considered an added bonus. Each night we would research for the next day or two to see what our specific itinerary would involve factoring in drive time, weather, operating hours, etc. A great advantage was France’s sunset timing. Used to a sunset of 6:30 pm in Rwanda, we were ecstatic with a 9:30 pm sunset in France which allowed us to squeeze in so much more into one day at each location than we could have imagined.

In total we saw:

  • Museums/Historical Sites: 28
  • Gardens: 3
  • Beaches: 3
  • Cathedrals: 5
  • Crypts: 2
  • Boat rides: 1
  • Ferris Wheel ride: 1

A few tips if you want to follow in our footsteps:

  • Budget for tolls: We planned the expenses of the rental car but didn’t even consider there would be tolls much less that they would add up to several hundred euros over the course of two weeks.
  • Splurge for the GPS: We were so thankful we did this. We did have stacks of google map print outs with directions for each stop on our journey, however, we added a few things into the mix on the spot and liked up-to-date information it provided. Well worth the money!
  • Pack light: Because we were coming from the US and were bringing things back with us as well as because we had a total of three weeks away in a variety of climates and for a variety of events, we had more than necessary during our time in France. Although, if you find yourself in a similar situation, take a page out of our book. Every day or two we would pull out the articles of clothing, toiletries, and miscellaneous items we needed (based on the weather for each stop). We consolidated it all into our smallest bag. So at each hotel with their small elevators (or lack there of) and small city hotel rooms, we were only bringing our backpacks and a small suitcase with us leaving our other three large suitcases in our car. In Marseille, we had a larger room and needed to do laundry. So, we brought all of them in with us…our bellhop asked if we were moving there! Sure seemed like it and why not…but sadly no we just have A LOT of baggage.
  • Checking Out:  Some small hotels may not have 24 hour reception desks. If you plan to leave early in the morning, check with the receptionist the night before to see if you need to check-out then instead of having to wait until they open the next morning to be able to leave.
  • Share Your Food!: A foodie tip for you and your spouse – Try ordering a two or three course, price fix meal for one person and then the other order just an entree (if three course) or an entree/dessert (if ordering two). We found this was a great way to sample more options on each menu and to ensure we didn’t overindulge too much, too often. It also provided a back-up option in case the most traditional dish wasn’t something we enjoyed…of course it was always delicious and the back-up was never necessary!
  • Get tickets in advance: When possible, buy tickets for the popular tourist attractions that you know you will see but don’t space too closely together. Buying in advance often means a shorter wait and less of a hassle. Plus, it helps you plan your timing right for when to do things and when you will have time to explore other places. Pay close attention to operating hours and days to ensure you plan properly.

Palace of Versailles .jpg