How to Plan a Romantic Honeymoon Roadtrip through the South of France
Say you've always dreamed of a beachy honeymoon locale, but your second half is more about the mountains. Luckily, this is one of the easiest newlywed compromises you'll have to make. Jet off to the South of France and embark on a road trip along the CĂ´te d'Azur, spending your days lounging at beach clubs sipping rosĂ© and cruising through the lavender-lined roads of Provence. You'll instantly feel all that post-wedding stress slip away as you hike up the hills that inspired the work of artists like Matisse and sleep in the most charming B&Bs in tucked-away villages that look like a scene straight out of Beauty and the Beast. Here's how to soak up the most of the countryside and the sea on a romantic road trip through the South of France.
First Stop: A Romantic Night in Nice
Fly into Nice and spend your first day easing into honeymoon mode (and getting over jetlag), strolling the iconic flower and vegetable market in the Old Town's main square, the Cours Saleya, and heading out to the waterfront promenade for a beachfront drink on the terrace at tapas bar Movida. Indulge in an intimate dinner in full French fashion that evening at Jan, with a seasonal tasting menu that blends flavors from South African and Southern French cuisine. Spend the night with a view over the sea at the boutique HĂ´tel La PĂ©rouse before setting off down the coast the next day.
When it comes to rental car plans, leave all the heavy lifting to the pros: Companies like Auto Europe will have the car of your choosing ready for pick up just when you want it (preferably after a leisurely breakfast on your hotel terrace) at your destination of choice in town. The only decision you'll have to make is the style you'd like to cruise the coast in.
Second Stop: A Glamorous Day in Saint-Tropez
When you think about road trips in the States, getting from one destination to the next could be upwards of five hours. Not the case in Europe. From Nice, you could easily get to Barcelona or Tuscany in less than six hours, meaning almost anywhere you want to visit in the South is within a few hours' drive. Start along the coast and head to one of the most glamorous honeymoon locales of them all, Saint Tropez, posting up in the same spot where Brigitte Bardot honeymooned and rock royalty Mick Jagger tied the knot with Bianca â€” the Beirut-inspired Byblos. Nights can be as wild as you want, with dancing at the legendary Caves du Roy or low-key cocktails in the mansion courtyard bar at White 1921.
Third Stop: Live Like a Local in Cotignac
There's no lack of rosĂ© in Saint-Tropez, but you can sleep amongst the vineyards themselves in the heart of wine country in nearby Cotignac. Nestled under limestone cliffs, the medieval village was once known as the "Saint-Tropez of the Haut Var," the northern part of Provence, where the jet-set circle would escape the crowds of Saint-Tropez to throw extravagant parties. These days, the village's picturesque locale and natural beauty are a bit of a secret. Stop in on Tuesday when the village's main drag transforms into the bustling weekly market selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to truffle-filled cheese along with locally made charcuterie and honey.
While you're in rosĂ© country, make the rounds sampling wine straight from the source. Cotignac just so happens to be the spot where award-winning Mirabeau rosĂ© is made, so swing by the winery in the center of town for a tasting, and take home a few bottles for later in the evening, to sip while staying in the nearby B&B La Licorne. Choose from one of the chambre d'hĂ´tes' four roomsâ€”named after the daughters of the Duc de Provenceâ€”that look out across the town's rooftops and feature romantic extras like clawfoot tubs surrounded by candlelight. For dinner, head up the hill to La Table de Fanette, known for their truffle-infused dishes picked and prepared by the chef herself.
Fourth Stop: Outdoor Adventures at the Gorges du Verdon
The U.S. may have the Grand Canyon, but France has the Gorges du Verdon, a 15-mile-long river canyon less than an hour from Cotignac that's surrounded by lavender fields and vineyards. If you want to throw some nature into your honeymoon, here's the perfect spot. Hikes range from three-hour light treks with panoramic canyon views to the more intense eight-hour Sentier Martel that snakes around the canyon and through two tunnels. You can also sit back and take a leisurely row through the canyons themselves by pedalo on the turquoise water of the Saint Croix lake.
Fifth Stop: A Spa Escape at Les Baux de Provence
About two and a half hours away, all signs of city life seep away as you drive through a series of small villages and nature parks on your way to the forest-encased Domaine de Manville, a former farmhouse that's been transformed into a 30-room luxury hotel. With all the amenities of a resort but the feel of a countryside manor, the hotel is the perfect place to completely zen out with your other half. Picture days by the open-air pool surrounded by olive trees, spa treatments with products crafted from locally sourced ingredients, and candlelit dinners on the terrace prepared by the domain's Chef Dupuis-Baumal, who's worked alongside the best at Michelin-starred spots around the country.