The Ultimate Italy + France Summer Travel Guide

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Katie Dean's Honeymoon Guide

My dear friend, Katie Dean of Katie Dean Jewelry, recently had the dreamiest wedding in the South of France paired with an epic honeymoon itinerary. Her travels took her throughout the French Riviera, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Paris. All destinations I've been to and absolutely love, I was thrilled that Katie's itinerary included so many spots I adore, have visited several times and would recommend. 

Whether you're planning your honeymoon or a trip with your gal pals - Katie's travel tips will help you design the trip of a lifetime. I am beyond thrilled to host her Italy + France Travel Guide on Girl & The Bay.

Imagine a place where the greenery is lush and overflowing, you’re always greeted with a warm smile and the views are beyond breathtaking. Are you imagining it? Ok, good. Not exaggerating when I say that is just a sliver of the heaven that makes up the Amalfi Coast, my all time favorite place that we went to on our honeymoon. (You better believe I’m already planning our trip back!)

 LOUNGING UNDER THE LEMON TREE AT CASA ANGELINA IN PRAIANO, ITALY

LOUNGING UNDER THE LEMON TREE AT CASA ANGELINA IN PRAIANO, ITALY

We started our honeymoon in the South of France and from there traveled to Italy and then for the last leg went back to France and stayed in Paris. The main focus of our honeymoon was … eating. No surprise there if you followed along on Instagram stories! We pretty much planned our days based on the reservation we had booked. Both Jon and I had been to Europe before and visited a lot of the tourist attractions so this trip was all about diving into the culture and eating lots and lots of delicious food.

Here are the top spots we went to in each place – enjoy and feel free to let me know if you want more details on anything!

SOUTH OF FRANCE

AIX EN PROVENCE

Best place to stay: Hotel Le Pigonnet

Very sweet boutique hotel nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the city center in Aix en Provence. It takes about 15 minutes to walk into town.

PRO TIP: always walk into town if possible. Parking is limited and can be confusing. They have uber available and plenty of taxis so you can always get a ride back to the hotel if you’re too tired to walk back.

Healthy snack spot: Ojus, 100% Bio, Gluten Free

Whenever I travel I try to find the best local spot for organic juices and snacks. I know I’m going to load up on sweets and carbs throughout my trip so I try to have a staple place where I can get my greens and nutrients in. This organic oasis is located right in the heart of the city center in Aix. It’s only accessible by walking or bike. No cars allowed on those streets.

PRO TIP: make your own juice! I made mine with a coconut milk base, banana, kale, almonds and peanut butter. DELISH and so refreshing! Say hello to Richard for me (he’s the owner who is the nicest!).

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Favorite coffee place: Mana Espresso

My coffee haven! This was my favorite place to get a latte in town. It’s small and cozy and the people are friendly. Highly recommend!

PRO TIP: lattes are an American thing and if you ask for one in Europe you will most likely get a little warm milk mixed with a lot of espresso. It’s typically very strong and doesn’t compare to a latte as we know it. But this place gets it! So go here if you are a latte person.

Classic French Cafe: Patisserie Weibel

This place was soooo cute. We went here a handful of times and I wish we had been able to go more! They have all of the classic French pastries and a tasty menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I loved their croissants but I still prefer Laduree for macarons. Oh! And it’s a perfect spot to people watch.

PRO TIP: Do not order at the counter if you plan to sit outside at the cafe. It’s not like American cafes where you can order take away and then sit down to eat. They do full table service pretty much everywhere you go and their prices are different depending on if you take away or sit down. The waiters make a living from their job at these cafes and will not allow you to sit if you don’t order from them. No joke. I learned from experience!

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Classic French Cafe: Patisserie Weibel

This place was soooo cute. We went here a handful of times and I wish we had been able to go more! They have all of the classic French pastries and a tasty menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I loved their croissants but I still prefer Laduree for macarons. Oh! And it’s a perfect spot to people watch.

PRO TIP: Do not order at the counter if you plan to sit outside at the cafe. It’s not like American cafes where you can order take away and then sit down to eat. They do full table service pretty much everywhere you go and their prices are different depending on if you take away or sit down. The waiters make a living from their job at these cafes and will not allow you to sit if you don’t order from them. No joke. I learned from experience!

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  1. Restaurant Francis Mallmann at Chateau la Coste
  2. Cote Cour in the city center of Aix en Provence
  3. La Terrasse at Chateau la Coste (outdoor cafe for lunch)
    • Chateau la Coste is a really good winery and has three restaurants on site. We ate at all of them and our favorites were La Terrace for lunch and Restaurant Francis Mallmann for dinner

Another great place to stay: Our AirBnb

If you don’t stay at a hotel and want to go for more of a chill, living in the country side vibe, check out our AirBnb that we stayed in for a few days. The pool was amazing, the beds were comfy and the decor was sweet. AirBnb in Provence: https://abnb.me/mB8fQmWsvN

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A Provence MUST: shopping at the open Farmers Markets! 

Every day Monday – Friday there are open markets in the city center of Aix en Provence. They go between flower focused to veggie, fruit and bread focused. It’s incredible and I highly suggest making sure you go to one.

PRO TIP: Cross check your travel dates to make sure they don’t fall on national holidays in Europe. On National holidays EVERYTHING shuts down. Again, this isn’t America. Nothing stays open with the exception of hotels. That includes gas stations, pharmacies, cafes, grocery stores. ALL CLOSED.

Side note: best nail bar in town

If you’re in town for a special event and need to get your nails done, go to one of the Khroma Nail Bar locations. They only use OPI polish and they speak very little english so research your nail polish number and have it on hand when they ask you what you want.

QUICK VISIT TO ANTIBES (NEAR CANNES)

Where we stayed: AirBnb house

It was a quick visit as we made our way to Italy but highly recommend checking out Biot or Antibes on the Southern Coast of France. We stayed two nights in a modern, bohemian style house that we rented through AirBnb and it was perfect: https://abnb.me/46ljUdUsvN

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What do to: lay beach side at Hotel Belle Rives

It was perfect weather for a beach day when we were there so we went to Hotel Belle Rives and rented lounge chairs for the day. I loved it! Forewarning: this place can get a little pricey. Bring snacks to munch on if you want to keep the bill reasonable.

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ITALY

AMALFI COAST
My favorite place that we went to on our honeymoon!

Where to stay: Casa Angelina

The most bustling part of the Amalfi is Positano. That’s where the majority of shops, restaurants and night life are. We opted to stay in the next town over, Praiano at Casa Angelina. It’s calming and beyond gorgeous. Positano is a short taxi ride away or a ten minute drive so you have the best of both worlds. Casa Angelina is by far the most amazing hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Their service is first class and the hotel is modern, impeccably clean and filled with Art.

Included in your stay is breakfast that includes more options than you could ever consume in one meal along with a view of the Amalfi, Coast that is unbeatable! (see pictures below) During our stay you could find me at their lemon tree lined pool (so Instagram worthy) or at the beach club below the hotel, One Fire Beach.

I have never felt more relaxed in my entire life. This place is heavenly and I can’t wait to go back!

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Drinks & Light Bites: Le Sirenuse Hotel, Champagne & Oyster Bar

The views from their balcony are insane and the food is really yummy. This is a great spot to hit up before your dinner reservation or after. We watched the sunset from here and it was lovely.

*We also heard that San Pietro Hotel is great for drinks

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Dinner: Da Vincenzo

Unfortunately we didn’t make it to this spot because they were full for reservations but it came highly recommended from some of our foodie friends. We opted for pizza at Buca di Bacco as a chill second option.

Dessert: Collina Bakery for gelato

You have to get gelato at least once while you’re in the Amalfi. We asked locals for the best place and all of them referred us to Collina. This place is filled with treats so if you don’t opt for gelato you can’t go wrong with their other options.

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TUSCANY

FLORENCE

Where to stay: Riva Lofts

This is off the beaten path from the main part of Florence and nestled in a more residential area where the locals live. It’s about a 25 minute walk into the city center or a 10 minute train.

  • Plus side of staying outside of the city center: a lot quieter and calmer. You’re basically renting a loft because the rooms are very spacious and it comes with a little kitchenette so you can buy food from the local market and come back and cook. Also, if you rented a car you don’t have to pay for parking which adds up so you don’t have that fee here!
  • Downside: you have to walk or take the train into town. So if you plan on doing everything in town it may be more efficient to stay in the city center.

Lunch: Osteria at Gucci Garden

Beautiful little cafe that is a part of the Gucci museum. Serving up delectables crafted by none other than Massimo Bottura (famous Italian chef of the #1 restaurant in the world, Osteria Francescana). Everything is a work of art and thoughtfully placed and planned out here. Hit up the Gucci Museum after your lunch to see the history of the Gucci brand. It’s pretty awesome! *Ask your waiter if you can get comp’d tickets to the Gucci Museum (they won’t offer so you have to ask). If you’re nice and they like you, they will likely give you free tickets!

PRO TIP: Get the burger. It comes in an adorable pink box. Need I say more?

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Drinks: La Menagere

Loved this spot! They have a great assortment of drinks and healthy food options plus great live music. They also have an adorable gift shop in the middle of their restaurant with a full on flower shop. It’s so cute.

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Pizza: Gusta Pizza (hands down the best in Florence)

There was a line out the door and this place never slowed down. The pizza was sooooooo so good. We got the #6 with spicy salami!

Dessert: Vivoli Gelato

It’s not deemed Instagram beautiful but it sure is authentic. I wish I had gone here more. The Pistachio was out of this world!

PRO TIP: You have to pay at the cashier for the size you want and then fight your way to get served at the gelato case. There is no organization when it comes to the line, so don’t be shy otherwise you’ll never get your gelato.

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Spa day: Four Seasons Hotel

After days of walking and seeing the sites, it’s nice to have a little R&R. Head over to the Four Seasons, grab some lunch at one of their gorgeous restaurants and then head to the spa for a massage.

PRO TIP: if you want to hang by the pool, it costs extra so make sure to talk to the front desk or the spa before you lay down to get the details on pricing.

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Marketo Central

We didn’t make it to this market but heard it was amazing! Grab your fresh snacks for your picnic here and head to the Ponte Vecchio (famous bridge on the river) to watch the sunset.

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DAY TRIP TO MODENA

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Coffee: Bar Cappuccino Da Angiolina

Have you ever watched the Netflix show, Master of None? Well, Modena is the cute town that Aziz Ansari’s character lives in and Bar Cappucino is the coffee house he frequents. Grab a latte and do some people watching.

Snacks: Mercato Albinelli

Amazing open market with all the fresh food. We got tiny tortellini, salami, cheese, and veggies that we later cooked at our loft for a dinner in. You should definitely make a stop here.

Lunch or Dinner: Osteria Francescana (#1 restaurant in the world)

This reservation (which you have to book 3 months in advance, thanks to my husband for locking this in) was the whole reason we took a day trip to Modena. It was #2 in the world when we went and was just named the #1 Restaurant in the world a few weeks ago. I can say with confidence that it’s worth all the hype. The chef, Massimo Bottura, has created some of the most classic Italian dishes with a modern twist (watch the Chef’s Table episode on Netflix all about him!). We ordered a la carte and had a lot of pasta. It was impeccable!

*Saturday Street Market: if you go to Modena on a Saturday make sure to allow time to check out the open street market. It’s full of local vendors selling everything from candy to olive oil to home goods. It’s fun even if you don’t buy anything.

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DAY TRIP: SIENNA

Wine tasting & lunch: Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

Rent a car and take a day trip to this winery. It’s like the disneyland of wineries. Their entire property is gorgeous with stone buildings covered in green vines and the views of the Italian countryside are breathtaking. Make a lunch reservation (or dinner) at Osteria La Canonica and get the Black Truffle Pizza with Mozzarella. After lunch walk around the grounds and check out their amazing garden and take a walk up to the ancient ruins. Make a wine tasting reservation as well!

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DAY TRIP: GREVE IN CHIANTI

Wine tasting: Vignamaggio

Another gorgeous winery that also has a restaurant. Head there for a wine tasting and grab a bite to eat. If you’re lucky they’ll let you walk the grounds which is normally not available for the public. I suggest combining this day trip with your visit to Castiglion del Bosco (above) since it’s on the way.

PRO TIP: head into the city center of Greve in Chianti and stroll around the town. There are cute boutiques, cheese shops, restaurants and cafes. Nice little pit stop.

BACK TO FRANCE

PARIS

Where we stayed: AirBnb apartment in Le Marais

Le Marais is a historic district in the 3rd and 4th ARR in Paris. It is way less touristy and the food scene is so good. Highly recommend staying in this area.

We also opted for an AirBnb since we were staying for five days and wanted to have more of a local experience. Here’s the one we stayed in: https://abnb.me/0pZ8KN3svN

PRO TIP: pack as light as possible because most rentals (and even some hotels) don’t have elevators. Luckily our AirBnb was only two flights up but still, with heavy bags it’s kind of intense.

I’m putting a list of our favorite things in Paris below a little differently than what I did earlier because there are just so many places to talk about. I narrowed it down A LOT because it can be overwhelming to have a ton of options.

OB LA DI CAFE IN PARIS

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Coffee

  1. Ob La Di
    • We went here almost every day. It’s tiny and cozy and the people are super nice. Our order: Oatmilk latte, the banana bread (best of my life) and avocado toast with a soft boiled egg to share.
  2. Cafe De Flore
    • Snag a seat outside and sit for hours while you people watch. This cafe is wildly busy so there may be a wait. I got the hot chocolate and an omelette, Jon got a cappuccino and an omelette. Everything was very, very yummy.
  3. La Fontaine de Belleville
    • Yummy lattes and huge yummy brunch on the weekend. The fresh bread and butter was my favorite. A note on how Parisians brunch: get ready to eat A LOT of food. Brunching is a serious business in France so order a la cart if you don’t have to have a five course meal.
  4. Hotel Amour
    • This is where the cool kids go to hang out (or so we heard). Their coffee was really strong so it wasn’t really my thing but it was still a fun place to hang put at. Side note: they have an outdoor patio that is filled with plants. I saw a lot of people set up with their laptops so it looked like a good place to get some work done too.
  5. Coutume
    1. Didn’t make it here but highly recommended for coffee
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Food

  1. Du pain et des Idees Bakery ***BEST CROISSANTS OF MY LIFE***
    • I’m going to be mad at you if you don’t go here. Seriously I will take it personally. You have to go and get at least three if not five things. You can’t go wrong. Everything is SO GOOD and fresh. They melt in your mouth and they’re just heavenly.
  2. Cafe Charlot
    • LOVED this place for dinner. A Classic parisian cafe with outdoor seating facing the street. I actually had an amazing latte here and delicious burger. More casual and not super expensive. Perfect for a night out with friends.
  3. Chez Fernand
    • A very cozy spot on a super cute street. It was filled with locals so that’s always a good sign.
  4. Wild & the Moon
    • This is a healthy spot (all vegan and I think all gluten free) where you can get fresh juices and hot dishes to do a little detox from all the bread you’ve been eating.
  5. Le Servan
    • We had the most yummy lunch here. It’s a modern spot that is newer to the scene in Paris and it’s climbing to the top of the food critics lists. Highly recommend grabbing lunch or dinner here but you have to make a reservation if you want a table otherwise you’ll be lucky to get a spot at the bar as a walk in!
  6. Fontaine de Mars
    • This place was classic Parisian style. A Bit on the pricier side but full of flavor and worth a night out on the town. Fair warning there are a lot of tourists here so if you’re not into that, it’s probably not your jam.
  7. Pink Mamma
    • We didn’t get to go here but heard it was great, especially the one in Pigalle in the 9th ARR. They have multiple locations but apparently this is the most beautiful one.
    • PRO TIP: they don’t take reservations and people start lining up 30-45 minutes before they open
  8. L’Avenue
    • This is another great place to people watch. Definitely sit outside. It’s in the high end fashion district so you can do some perusing through Dior and Saint Laurent after you dine.
  9. Verjus
    • Didn’t make it here but was recommended from a foodie friend and has amazing reviews so I’m sure it would have been killer for dinner
  10. Any and all crepe stands
    1. Get a crepe with Nutella and bananas. Just do it for me so I can live through your IG watching you get one. I only had two while I was there and honestly, I regret not having more. Some people get really into going to a particular spot but they’ve all been good to me. I’m not a crepe snob.
  11. I also hear that these places were great for dinner but didn’t make it to any of them:
    • Comptoir de La Gastronomie
    • Balagan (was told to sit at the bar)
    • Hotel Coste
    • Bread & Roses
    • Biglove Cafe (breakfast)
    • Marcel (breakfast)

LUNCH AT LE SERVAN

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COFFEE STOP AT HOTEL AMOUR

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Drinks

  1. Shangri-La Hotel for Le Bar Botaniste
    • this place takes their cocktail making seriously and it’s pretty inspiring. I’m not much of a drinker but when I do have a cocktail I want it to be sweet and full of flavor. They made me one of my favorite drinks called a ‘Cafe con Leche’, an egg white base with coffee liquor. Even though it wasn’t on their menu they made me one and it was the best I have ever had. I couldn’t believe it. Ordering a cocktail is an experience with them and it’s so worth the price!
    • *The have another restaurant within the hotel that has a balcony with a great view of the eiffel tower. Definitely make a reservation!
  2. Little Red Door
    • cozy place with lots of locals. They made me a very tasty mocktail and Jon loved the cocktails he had. Sometimes there’s a wait so just be prepared.
  3. The Hemingway Bar
    • we didn’t make it here but heard amazing things
  4. Le Perchoir Marais
    • again, didn’t make it here but highly recommended

Activities

  1. Pastry Making Class with The Parisian Kitchen
    • This was so much fun! Benedicte was our lovely teacher and the owner of The Parisian Kitchen. She was born and raised in Paris and is just the sweetest. We made a chocolate soufflé and raspberry macarons. They we’re sooooo yummy.
  2. Seine River
    • We had a splendid afternoon relaxing on one of the green lawns on the banks of the Seine River. We brought a blanket, picnic goodies, some rosé and our books and basked in the warm sun as we watched boats go by. It was the perfect thing to do after many days of walking miles and miles.
  3. Bike tour with Fat Tire
    • One of the only formal tours that I went on during our travels was a bike tour of Versailles. I decided to go with Fat Tire Bike Tours because they have incredible reviews and I fell in love with their Instagram. My favorite part of the tour was actually the first half when we went through the Queens quarters, explored the gardens and had a picnic on Grand Canal. Touring the actual Versailles Palace was not as exciting as I hoped it would be. It was very crowded and a lot of the halls were closed (which I hear is typical) so we only saw about one tenth of the palace. It’s worth it if you’ve never been but I wouldn’t do it again.

OUR PASTRY MAKING CLASS WITH THE PARISIAN KITCHEN

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VISITING THE MARKET + PICNIC TIME IN VERSAILLES WITH FAT TIRE BIKE TOURS

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TOURING THE QUEEN’S PALACE AND GARDENS AT VERSAILLES

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Katie Dean

Katie Dean is a jewelry designer of her eponymous line, Katie Dean Jewelry; a dainty, feminine line of jewels which is all handmade in Los Angeles. She’s recently relocated to the Bay Area and loves pilates, her morning lattes and traveling.  

 the ultimate italy and france summer travel guide