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Unable to commit to either a romantic Paris jaunt or a driving tour of the French Riviera, Phil, a radiology resident, and Samantha, a handbag buyer, opted to do both. Two days after their April 2012 wedding, the Dallas couple were road-tripping between seaside towns in the South of France before zooming up to the City of Light, where they strolled the streets, feasted on crepes, and drank bottle after bottle of Champagne.
Here, the couple was all smiles in St. Tropez.
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Trip Length: 12 days: six nights in the south and five in the capital
Airline: American Airlines to Paris with connection to Nice on Air France
Flight Time: 11.5 hours
Travel Agency: Strong Travel Agency
Exploring the Luxembourg Gardens (shown here) made the cut for Samantha's "one perfect day in Paris" hit list, along with morning coffee at a sidewalk cafe and a late lunch of chicken, spinach, and cheese crepes.
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The Best Place to Stay
"That would be a tie. The Hotel Royal Riviera was right on the water in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and had brown-and-white striped awnings that reminded me of Henri Bendel. Our room was contemporary -- bright white with pops of orange -- and had French doors that opened to our terrace,” says Samantha. "But the Ritz Paris felt really old-school. It was so ornate, so over-the-top, so French. I loved it!" (the Ritz is being renovated and is due to reopen at the end of 2014)
Though it was a tad chilly in spring, the newlyweds lounged a bit by the Royal Riviera's pool pictured here.
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The Best Day Trip
"I love bubbly, so Phil booked a surprise trip to Champagne country with a private guide, but he got too excited and told me about it ahead of time," says Samantha. "We went to Moet & Chandon in Epernay and Mumm in Reims, and saw the church where Dom Pérignon is buried. Yes, he was a real person -- and a monk, believe it or not!" (chocolatine.biz)
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Dream French Riviera Town
"Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was quiet and calm," says Samantha. "And the waterfront was lined with huge old mansions." Adds Phil: "There's a pretty walking path that winds along the coast to a peninsula, which had the most beautiful views out to the Mediterranean and back toward the foothills of the Alps."
Here, the duo posed on the steps of Les Salons de la Rotonde Lenotre, a Belle Epoque event space near their Cap Ferrat hotel.