France Travel Diary
Katie Dean, June 19 2017
It’s time to show you my favorite part of our Europe trip and that was traveling through France! I have a deep seeded love for the beauty of this country and of course, their food. It was amazing to see how much time and attention Parisians dedicate to detail. It seemed like every town we went through there were charming houses with color coordinated shutters and city centers filled with tiny boutiques and bistros that evoked a cozy feel. Not to mention the people and their impeccable style. To sum it up: effortless and chic. It made me do a double take on my wardrobe staples!
Our time in France was extra special because Jon and I went to visit potential wedding venues… and we found the perfect one! We’re so happy to announce we found a beautiful venue where we will say, “I do” and start our adventure together. (you’ll find out the place we chose below!)
We opted to drive for this portion of our Europe trip so we could see the countryside. Starting in the South of France with our final destination being Paris, we had many miles to cover during our 7 day stay.
AIX EN PROVENCE
First stop, visiting Chateau de Grimaldi, a gorgeous estate fifteen minutes away from Aix En Provence (this place was in our top five wedding venues that we found online with the help of our friend Allison of Engaged & Inspired). We were blown away by the beauty of this chateau. Hand painted details, matching linens and upholstery dedicated to each room, a library, two patios and the list goes on! We especially loved that the venue could house up to 26 people. One of the main reasons we are doing a destination wedding is to keep everyone close and create memories in a new place, experiencing new things together with some of our closest friends and family.
After touring Chateau de Grimaldi, we checked in to our quaint AirBnb only five minutes from the venue. I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Aix En. Sophie, our host, was super sweet and provided lots of information on the local scene. She also made us the yummiest coffee + a fresh baguette breakfast the next morning complete with local jams. (We took that along with us for our road trip!)
On our way to the next wedding venue that we wanted to visit, about an hour North of Aix En Provence, we came upon a hidden gem, Orange, France. This delightful little town was like a storybook. Beautiful pastel colored buildings (again, with the prettiest matching shutters) and adorable little cafes and bistros in the city centre. We only had time to eat lunch here but we are definitely going back.
After our delightful lunch we arrived at Chateau Massillan, the other potential wedding venue we wanted to see in person. We were awestruck by the green luscious grounds and beautiful decor. We loved this location.
We were torn between both of these beautiful venues. We ended up writing down the pros and cons of both venues and decided that one of our most important factors in choosing our location was having a communal space that we could all gather in to cook and eat in. As you know, food is a big thing for us. What ultimately sold us on Chateau de Grimaldi was the in-house kitchen, haha! (not really a surprise, right?) We are in full planning mode now and can’t wait to have our family and friends with us to celebrate this special time in our lives.
BORDEAUX & PAUILLAC
From there we went to Bordeaux, a bustling town known for their delicious wine. We actually stayed in Pauillac which is another hour drive north of Bordeaux and is home to some of the most prestigious (and oldest) wineries in history. During our stay one of our highlights was taking a tour in Chateau Mouton Rothschild and eating at the infamous Cafe Lavinal. Make a reservation if you want to go here, especially if you are going in the height of tourist season (June – September). If you feel like having a treat-yourself kind of moment, book a room at Chateau Cordeillan Bages. Their hospitality was out of this world and the decor was a perfect mix of modern and classic elegance. They have a stunning pool and GREAT workout center (to help you with all those baguettes and croissants you’ll be eating).
The morning we left for Paris we missed the ferry that was going to cut off an hour from our road trip (note to self: always check the ferry schedule the day before). At first we were super bummed but then we decided it was an excuse to go into Bordeaux for breakfast and we found the YUMMIEST spot: the Breakfast club (not the movie — an adorable, tiny cafe with delicious food). It was definitely meant to be that we missed the Ferry!
// DAY 1
After a very pretty, scenic (seven hour) drive we made it to France! My one advice for doing a road trip with little time and lots of miles to cover, pack a lot of nutritious snacks. Next time we will probably take the speed train to Paris but it was nice to see the country side on this trip.
We arrived into Paris in the early evening, checked into our hotel and went straight to dinner at Restaurant Champeaux. I was very pleasantly surprised at the modern, cool vibe of this place and how tasty all the dishes were. Make a reservation if you want to dine here, it books up super fast!
After dinner we met our friends at a cool tiki bar (earmuffs please, the name is a bit vulgar) Dirty Dick. It’s a local spot with a chill, fun ambiance. If you’re in the mood to bar hop there are plenty of cool places to check out on the same street.
// DAY 2
The next Day we woke up hungry and eager to explore the city. Since we had both been to Paris before Jon and I decided we would skip the museum lines and do as the locals do! So we spent the day walking the streets, perusing through local boutiques and of course, eating. Our first stop was breakfast at Holybelly. This place is fairly new and blowing up in popularity. They don’t take reservations so we waited in line outside, thank goodness the weather was really nice that day! You can also grab a latte at the bar and chat with your fellow foodies or peruse their IG here while you wait for your name to be called.
After that we strolled through the city went and made our way to L’Avenue. Friends of ours had referred us to L’Avenue, saying that it was one of the best places to people watch and boy were they right! We enjoyed some tea, soup, fries and baguettes and soaked in all the Parisian culture.
We met up with friends that night at another awesome spot called Clamato, which was AMAZING. Full disclosure, our first pick for dinner that night was Septime but they were fully booked months ahead. Inside tip: while you wait for your table at Clamato or Septime, walk around the corner and grab a glass of wine at Septime Bar. (So many great places to go in this city!)
To top off the night, on our walk back to the hotel we stopped at one of the creperies in the park and had the best chocolate, banana crepe. It was perfectly warm with just the right ratio of nutella and banana. Note to self: eat way more of these next year.
// DAY 3
For our last day in Paris we were up and at it early for our photoshoot with Federico of I Heart Paris photography. A tip for anyone doing a shoot in Paris, you have to start between 7a – 8a otherwise you’ll be fighting the crowds to get a good photo. We went from the Eiffel Tower to the local streets snapping away and ended our shoot in the charming streets of Montmartre. (you can see some of our photos below!)
After we finished our shoot we strolled through more cute streets and that’s where I found my favorite sweet treat of the entire trip: Maxim’s lace crepes dipped in milk chocolate. Out of all the souvenirs I brought back from Paris, Maxim’s chocolates were easily the favorite.
To balance out the sugar coma that we just induced we went to lunch at Chez Julien, a classic spot in Paris. We sat outside and loved it! From there we walked some more, got a coffee at a local place, Ten Belles and then went for our last dinner at the world renowned Le Chateaubriand. We left Paris the next day with full bellies and many happy memories!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my travels!
Have you been to France? I’m sure you have tips to share! Comment below with any of your personal favorites or tell us where your next adventure will take you!