This post is written in partnership with Capital One. As always, thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Road tripping the South of France is something I always wanted to do. For years, I dreamed of taking in the enchanting fragrance of the perfectly manicured rows of lavender, eating copious amounts of cheese, and admiring the vivid colors of pristine nature that inspired some of the world’s most renowned artists…it just seemed like pure magic. I finally got the chance to visit, thanks in large part to my boyfriend, and spent 2 weeks driving along the southern coast. He’s half French and very familiar with the region, so it felt special to have him as my local guide showing me his favorite spots. Beyond just a romantic getaway, what was particularly special about the trip was spending time with his family for the first time and seeing places from his childhood. I’ve always been passionate about travel because of the memories it helps me create with loved ones, so this particular trip will be etched in my heart for years to come.
Travel rewards credit cards – especially the Venture card from Capital One – can help maximize these kinds of special experiences with loved ones, since you can earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, that you can then redeem on any travel purchase like flights, hotels, or car rentals. Keep reading for our itinerary and to see more of how you can make the most of your own travel memories using the Capital One Venture card.
To start off the trip, I arrived to Lyon with Air France, which happens to be one of Venture’s 14+ airline partners. Since the best part of exploring the region is stopping in the little villages and visiting the many calanques at your own pace, having a rental car makes a huge difference and can enhance your experience. The alternative would be using public transport (which is sparse and limited) or pre-arranged tours which tend to have strict schedules and can be overcrowded, and completely defeats the purpose of a fun and spontaneous road trip. Driving in this region is also pretty easy (well…to be fair my boyfriend did most of the driving since I can only drive automatic), just be sure to anticipate the many tolls along the way. I would recommend to book a rental car with your Capital One Venture card to help maximize rewards. Not only can you can redeem miles to “erase” the cost with the purchase eraser, but it will also come in handy when driving through the tolls since they automatically bill to your credit card when you drive through them. When booking an eligible rental car with your Venture card, you can also be covered for car accidents or theft. It’s safe to say the perks here are overflowing!
Our road trip took us from Lyon through the Alps, into Provence, then Cassis and Ardèche before finally returning to Lyon. Here’s a detailed look at our itinerary:
* 4 days in Lyon for family time spent
* 3 days in the Alps for hiking (my boyfriend is an avid hiker and drags me along every chance he gets)
* 3 days in Provence to visit the lavender fields and sunflowers in full bloom (and of course indulge in all the cheeses)
* 3 days in Cassis to explore villages and find the best calanques and do some cliff jumping (Calanque En-vau was one of my favorite!)
* 3 days in Ardèche where Pont du Gard and Vallée de la Thines were highlights
One of my favorite memories from our road trip was the time in between destinations. Singing along to music being blasted from the radio, our little road stop picnics to refuel and rest, and my boyfriend telling me his favorite stories from his childhood. There’s something about road trips that allow you to strengthen bonds and for me, this was no different. Because we wanted to avoid big crowds of people, we also chose to stay in places that weren’t affiliated with major hotel chains. Instead, we opted for super cute Bed and Breakfast style places which added even more charm to our trip. Experiences like this are great when using the Capital One Venture card because through their partnership with Hotels.com, you can get unlimited 10 miles per dollar on thousands of properties when you book via Hotels.com/venture (through January 2020). You of course aren’t limited to stay in B&B’s as I did, but that’s the beauty of this feature: you get more options to choose the kind of stay that’s perfect for you!
If you’d like to take a similar route as I did, I recommend visiting Hotels.com/venture to book your stays when using your Venture card.
At every stop of our road trip, I made it a point to stop through local markets to find unique artisanal goods or just delicious locally grown produce. On our first day driving through Provence, we stopped by a vineyard for a wine tasting and ended up with a few bottles of wine. On our second day during our lavender field exploration, we stopped by a local farm and stocked up on the most delicious raw lavender-honey! There were lots of other lavender scented items I ended up getting (oils, bathroom fresheners, candles, etc.) which later made for perfect gifts. Making international purchases like these with a Capital One Venture card can make things so easy for you because there are NO foreign transaction fees and you earn unlimited 2x miles on every purchase not just on specific purchase categories! Is there anything more annoying than using your debit card or withdrawing from your bank account from an ATM during international travels only to later see added fees on your statement? It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when traveling, so this perk will definitely comes in handy for you, along with the ease of always knowing your earning double miles no matter what you’re buying.
When I think back on all the holidays I’ve taken in the last few years, my favorite trips have always been the ones spent traveling with loved ones. It’s the memories I’ve made, even more than the places I’ve gone, that have given me so much. Apply for the Capital One Venture card here, which can help you achieve your travel goals no matter the destination.