Is it finally time to take your dream vacation? Allow us to suggest France. It is a country of splendid landscapes, stately chateaus, glittering coastlines, and pinch-me-I’m-dreaming cuisine. But for all its cultural and visual wonders, many people look no further than Paris. Sure, the Eiffel Tower and L’Arc de Triomphe are certainly worth a visit—but France has so much more to see!
Of course, we know not everyone takes the same approach to vacation, which is why we’re doing something a little different. Below you’ll find suggestions for where to go depending on your unique travel style. Are you the outdoorsy type? A total romantic? Do you enjoy stepping off the beaten path or living like a local? We’ve got you covered with this list of the best places to visit in France.
Nothing beats feeling the sun and wind in your hair as you trek across foreign lands. If you love discovering new places and forging your own path, here are some destinations you should check out:
For those of you who love a good sand-and-surf scene, but still want to kick the adrenaline up a few notches, you can’t do better than Urville-Nacqueville. This classic beach destination sits on the English Channel, and is a major hotspot for lovers of the surf scene. It’s also perfect for those who love sailing, diving and windsurfing. Basically, if you want to get your water sports on in France, this is the place to come. You can bike there for the day from Cherbourg, or drive from Paris in about 4 hours. If you want to avoid a 24/7 wetsuit, come in the summer.
On the other hand, the Alps are an amazing destination any time of year. In fall when the leaves change, in winter when snow lies heavy on the ground, in spring when the trees unfurl and in summer when the sun shines down and creates lush wildflower meadows as far as the eye can see … you really can’t go wrong in the Alps. Plus, if you and your honey are lovers of the great outdoors, this is a perfect destination. Check out winter events such as Megavalanche and truffle hunting, or come in fall for the pressing of the grapes.
The Off-the-Beaten-Path Tourist
If you like to deviate and step outside the mainstream, you’ll love the next two trip ideas. They’re full of wilderness, back roads and tourist-free stops, so make sure you check them out and get the most out of your French experience.
Retro Trailer Park
If you want to go back in time and experience some good old-fashioned Americana in the south of France, you can’t go wrong with the Retro Trailer Park. Consisting of 10 trailers, each is outfitted with its own theme from the 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s and situated among period-appropriate landscaping. Located near the medieval town of Mirepoix, it offers a great home base for exploring old architecture and eating yummy French food. You and your love will have a grand old time stepping outside of the mainstream … in your authentic Airstream trailer, so don’t wait to check this quirky destination off your bucket list. Come in spring, summer or fall for spectacular views of the Pyrenees.
Want to go where no car has gone before? Okay, that’s probably not true, but you do have a bit more freedom on a bike. If you’re interested in seeing more remote parts of the French countryside, you can find a huge range of bike tours that leave from almost every major city in French. When it comes to cycling, the sky really is the limit. Stop in old taverns, see medieval architecture and enjoy shimmering fields of grain and rows of grapes. Try to avoid rainy times of year (mostly summer and winter), which might spoil the sweeping views … and your ability to stay dry.
Hopeless romantic at heart? We’ve got you covered with two of the mushiest destinations in France. Make sure to bring your candles and rose petals, because these are going to be big hits.
Ever visited a town that was sometimes an island? We thought not. Mont St-Michel will meet and exceed your expectations for romance, located about a kilometer off the Normandy coast and completely surrounded by water at high tide. This medieval establishment is bedecked with towers, ramparts and walls. Inside, it houses gardens, restaurants and gloriously plush hotels. Whether you’re a romantic or not, it’s really not a destination to miss. From Paris to Rennes is a 3.5-hour drive, roughly, and another 60 miles to Mont St-Michel. You can also take a train from Paris to Rennes and a bus the rest of the way, if you prefer. This destination can really be enjoyed any time of year, and is glorious in the snow, if you’re lucky enough to get some. Candlelit dinners, neo-Gothic architecture, and rambling walks complete the romance.
The region that basically every French bakery ever has been modeled after, Provence is a gorgeous destination for the romantic at heart. The music (heavy on the accordion), floral prints, gorgeous baked goods and well-maintained gardens and walking paths all make Provence ideal for lovers. It certainly gives Paris a run for its money. Check out gorgeous Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseilles, 7 hours by car from Paris, or lie on sandy beaches along the Mediterranean. Gather bunches of lavender by hand in early fall or check out the many wine tours. In other words, soak up that romance, my friend.
The When-in-Rome Traveler
Love living like the locals? We don’t blame you; it’s one of the best ways to truly experience the food, flavors and all-around culture of a place. When you hit up these places, you’ll feel like you truly belong in this most beautiful of countries.
Yep, this is where the locals head when they’re looking for a break. Champagne is, believe it or not, the only region in the world that actually produces champagne. Everything else is just sparkling wine, y’all. But seriously, in order for a libation to be classified as champagne, its grapes must hail from this utterly, jaw-droppingly gorgeous corner of France. Try visiting one of the classic wineries, such as Dom Perignon or Moët & Chandon, which have been making their mark on the champagne industry for centuries. When you visit, you can sample the product, visit ancient cellars, eat amuse-bouches and maybe even splurge on a bottle of your own. Champagne is a brief 90 miles from Paris, easy to drive or take a train.
The Three Corniches
Okay, this is the ultimate “do as we do” destination. Visit The Three Corniches, named for the three coastal roads that meet up along this scenic corner of France. These roads twist along cliffs between Nice and the city-state of Monaco, both famous for their roles in countless movies as well as the luxurious accommodations and restaurants that abound along the Mediterranean. This is a great destination for a winter getaway, since it’s still fairly balmy, though you’ll want a coat at night. At more than 8 hours’ drive from the Paris airport, however, you should make sure you have some time to spend there.