French Riviera, Provence and Paris or Tuscany and Amalfi coast for honeymoon? planning 2 weeks mid June and would like to stay under $12,000. Focus is on culture, meeting locals, food, wine and relaxation. Nothing touristy and no traditional sightseeing!
Caitlin, congrats on this special event! Gosh, what a hard choice. I have lived in both countries and we spend almost each summer in South of France. I love both destinations and it is a matter of what you want really. Food, culture and wine-wise both countries will give you the best memories. Budget will do for both, you just need to know tricks and avoid paying more. Trust me, both countries will give you plenty of romantic memories.
If you want to spend a little bit time here and there, see more and explore more culture (think Florence) - I'd choose Italy. In France I suggest renting a charming house in between Riviera and Provence and just explore surroundings by bike or by car every day/other day. I highly recommend Le Luc Le Thoronet - they are incredibly cute, not far from St Tropez and prices and way less that on the coast. Beach is also around 40 minutes away. My favorite is Port Grimaud, by the way. Grimaud up on the hill is also a must-visit. We loved to go to the town for the local bakery, chat with locals. We found amazing olive plantations and wineries all around there. Sometimes we brought an empty big bottle to fill up with delicious rose for the villa.
If you will eventually go to Provence, visit Les Baux-de-Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Bonnieux - besides being scandalously beautiful, they have have so many wineries and farms with honey, olive oil and other local produce - it will be a sin to miss it.
I can go on and on about it:).
Definitely go and spend several days in Florence (highly recommend The Westin Excelsior Florence, ask for the room with balcony facing the river - it is romantic creme de la creme of the city). Man, you are going to experience food amazingness there - think Prosecco, Tuscan steak, truffles and chestnut gelato.
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I would go with French Riviera, Provence and Paris because you would get much larger variety of the experience from the trip, from a big city of Paris and everything Paris has to offer, to much smaller and intimate / romantic towns of French Riviera (like Cannes and/or Nice or even Monte Carlo in Monaco - all accessible by local trains for a few Euros within 30 min of each other) to beautiful Provence. Tuscany and Amalfi coast would be a good choice to return to Europe for your anniversary in years to come.
Wow... talk about high class problems. You literally cannot go wrong here. I think Victoria has some great advice above, so I will just chime in and say that I think the Amalfi Coast would be an amazing place to honeymoon. I have had friends who honeymooned there and loved it. Now, all of these places will be "touristy" at that time of the year, but I have been on the Amalfi Coast in the heart of summer and while it is packed with tourists, most of the tourists are Italians, the food is amazing and if you want to relax, you can sit on the beach, but if you want to do culture and history Sorrento and Pompeii are a short drive away. Capri is also an amazing place that you can do on day trip (or you could spend some nights there, as well... at night, after the day trippers leave, the place is magical).
As for spots on the Amalfi Coast, most people would lean towards being on the water and you can't go wrong with Positano or Amalfi itself, however, for my money, the most spectacular town is Ravello. Incredible views, beautiful squares and gardens, great food.
In addition to Tuscany, would also consider a visit to Civita di Bagnoregio and Orvieto. Civita di Bagnoregio is a tiny little hilltown that is an amazing place for a day visit (which can be combined with Orvieto), but I think it would be incredibly romantic to stay there for a night. Orvieto is a larger town that is perched on a rocky outcropping, has an amazing square with a cathedral, winding little streets, great food and wine, lots of interest culture. You could easily hit Orvieto and Civita on the way to from Tuscany/Amalfi and either spend a day or a night or two. I doubt you would be disappointed with these.
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Paris is charming but way too touristy. Haven't visited French Riviera as yet. However, I have visited Lake Garda along the northeastern coast of Italy and highly recommend staying at the lake town of Torri del Benaco . It is a cultural treat for food and art connoisseurs and in close proximity to Venice and Verona. The tranquil yet breathtaking views will leave you with memories for a lifetime!
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Well, I've never been to the French Riviera (only the Italian riviera), but though I think Paris is definitely romantic, and June in Paris is something special. If that's the way you chose to go, try and be there on the "white night" - very French and you'll feel like a local. i speak French, but in France, I usually feel like a tourist, so personally, for me, anywhere in Italy - specially Tuscanyand the Amalfi coast - is even more romantic. Yep, in the end, I'd pick Italy any day. In Tuscany, rent some bikes and cycle through the local vineyards or trek on horseback. Rent a room in a villa and wander through the local villages, visit the local wineries and when on the Amalfi coast, besides the beautiful Mediterranean beaches, you must take a cruise to Capri and don't forget to taste the local limoncello.
I would go for Abruzzo, right on the Adriatic - it's not touristy and perfect for really getting a feel for the culture. There are great hotels in Francavilla al Mare and Pescara and amazing places and restaurants a drive away. You can see two trips I did there (one in the winter and one in the summer) to get an idea for the place:
There aren't a lot of tourists there, it's a very easy going, different side to Italy - about two to three hours drive from the airport in Rome and you can easily binge on that budget. I have family there so I go there a lot and other than Florence, it is my favorite place to visit in Italy.
I would recommend you to choose Italy. Not long ago I had 2 week tour to Italy. We spent the first week in Tuscany, enjoyed food, wine, picturesque scenes all around. We also rented a car to see some nearby cities and towns. Car rentals are very cheap in Italy (you can check prices at http://italy.rentalcars24h.com/milan-airport-linate/comparison).
Then for your second week in Italy, you can go to the spectacular Amalfi Coast and enjoy its kind sun and its unforgettable beaches.