Destinations in France – The French are adept at getting around. Visit Greece, Italy, or Israel in August (when they usually go on vacation for the whole month — and you’re likely to hear plenty of “bonjours” and “au revoirs” .
This year, however it was different. The pandemic halted flights and imposed complicated quarantines and so people were encouraged to stay in their homes through campaign called the “Cet ete, je visite la France” (This season I’m visiting France) program.
Generally, the French limit domestic travel to school breaks, or les ponts during national holidays that fall between the beginning and the end of the week, which allows residents to “make a bridge” by having an extended weekend. The places that locals travel to depend on many variables like duration, season and price, however, regardless of whether they go to the mountains covered in snow, the vineyard-dappled countryside, or coastal cliffs there is one thing for certain: it will be breathtaking. The varied terrain in France is simply stunning and I’ve had amazing experience of pulling my jaw up off the floor a number of occasions since I moved to Paris just 6 years ago.
When I first arrived, I spent a couple of years exploring the cities that are major, like Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Lyon but I slowly began exploring further to tiny towns that aren’t often featured in travel guides. These destinations, which have been reviewed by a handful of French locals, are worth a visit for a short break or a longer stay.
Île de Ré
It is located on the west coast located south of Normandy, the 32-square-mile island located in the Atlantic is renowned for its oyster beds, salt marshes and bike trails, which is the best method of getting around. It is accessible by railway to La Rochelle (three hours from Paris) and is about 40 minutes by taxi or bus ride from the city.
There are a number of small villages on Île de Ré, each with its own distinct environment beach, markets, seasonal and seafood eateries -which are all best explored on two wheels that meander through vineyards, and occasionally a fields of donkeys. The most popular is Saint-Martin-de-Re located in the recognized UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring an ancient citadel and a colorful harbor, where docked boats often end up moored based of the tide.
The island hosts a collection of charming Bed-and-breakfasts and hotels, however this is the kind of spot to book the house for barbecuing in the yard or eating oysters that are harvested across the road.
The French love their chestnuts. If you’ve been invited to a Christmas celebration at someone home, the perfect present to present is les marrons’s glazes, or candied chestnuts. The round, prickly shaped fruit is usually harvested in autumn, and the southeast part that is Ardeche is able to produce 5,000 tonnes of fruit per year. It’s also famous for its national park, Monts d’Ardèche, where half-day loop hikes starting from the small town of Laviolle past the ruins of a centuries-old farm, and along to the Volane Valley, make for an ideal autumn activity.
In summer, the southern gorge, which is complete with natural bridges that span the river, hosts all the action, including canoers, kayakers, swimmers and hikers. The entry point village of Vogüé is awash with everything one would expect of a city located in the limestone walls of a medieval castle with cobblestoned roads, roofs of ochre and facades that are smothered in Ivy.
There’s greater to French Riviera than Cannes and Antibes, and when the French want that crystal clear ocean, they often embark on a cruise ship to some or the Hyeres Islands, located offshore between Toulon and Saint-Tropez.
When you get off the ferry, and inhaling the salty sea air and the scent of cedar, you’ll realize you’ve arrived at the right spot. The island of Port-Cros is favored by nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts for its wild terrain, while Porquerolles draws people who love to sunbathe and snorkel at its five sandy beaches. (Both can be accessed only on bicycle or foot.)
They’re sure to be crowded in summer but the season kicks off in May and ends in October. So you can enjoy the vineyards and olive trees without crowds. There are a few establishments on the islands along with increasing numbers of captains who provide their boats as refuges for guests (while docked) The town of Hyeres on the mainland provides additional alternatives, making day trips easy.
Les Alpilles and Le Luberon
When it comes to the northern area of Provence, The French love all sides of Durance River for its two national parks that have dry valleys and limestone ranges that are arid: les Alpilles on the west and le Luberon on the east.
They are surrounded by curving roads and fields filled with blooms of lavender in early summer, is a multitude of cities large (Arles) and smaller (Baux). I’ll never forget the first time I saw the multi-level cheese shop in the charming Bistrot of Paradou and also The Carrieres de Lumieres, a former quarry where artworks are projected on cave walls, set to music.
It was awe-inspiring to watch the Van Gogh painting “Starry Night” live in the cool (iterally and figuratively — especially in summer) Underground setting. The region is best explored with a car, as the drive is as beautiful as the places themselves.
Even though Google Maps may say the three-tiered Pont du Gard (Roman aqueduct crossing the Gardon River) takes 90 minutes to complete the point, it will feel much less when you turn the windows down and music on.
Around 40 minutes west of Bordeaux, which is about 40 minutes to the west of Bordeaux. The place is where the winemakers gather to unwind before and after harvest or to enjoy a weekend. In the bassin (bay) is the home of a number of oyster beds. you can view at low tide. You can also taste the oysters from the many harvesters. Some have picnic tables along the waterfront to enjoy a drink late in the day. The beaches along this stretch of the coast consist of soft, fine sand. This makes a trip to the renowned Dune du Pilat (a giant Sahara-like avalanche that is the biggest in Europe) should be a priority.
Arcachon town is tiny but charming with a hilly, historical district with 19th-century homes and an oceanfront promenade, where bicycle trails offer a beautiful journey. Cap Ferret across the bay that is accessible by ferry right from the Arcachon dock, provides an even more tranquil, exclusive escape for those with more money and designer swimming suits.
If your country was the most affluent “white carpet” in the world, You’d be able to grab your gloves and head to the Alps also. In February in the Alps, the French go to the slopes like it was an obligation of a god. (Alas I’m not a snow bunny, but you can give me a fireplace, and some cognac, and I’ll go with you in apres-ski-style.)
In the middle of three valleys Meribel is a popular choice for families due to its vast sandy terrain, with sun-soaked slopes and beginner trails. While Courchevel to the left offers more caviar and champagne and Val Thorens to right is famous by its diamonds in black.
Meribel located in between provides a more laidback way of life in the alpine. It is a ski-in/ski-out area, however depending on your abilities and level of energy it is possible to experience three of them over the course of a couple of days. The architecturally speaking, Meribel is the most charming, and also has several villages comprised of traditional wooden homes tucked within pine trees.
Alsatian Wine Route
The tiny 70 villages that stretch between Strasbourg to Colmar also called Colmar, the Alsatian wine route to taste gewurztraminers and rieslings. They radiate the serious Beauty from “Beauty and the Beast” impressions.
From the Eguisheim region to Riquewihr, You’ll see pastel-hued wooden houses, flower boxes that hang from windowsills and churches built in the 12th century that have bell towers and twisting canals. In the Christmas season light displays and sleigh bells can be found everywhere as well as markets that sell vin chaud (mulled wine) and spiced gingerbread and pommes d’amour (candy Apples).
One of the best ways to soak up the Muscat? Flammekueche (otherwise called tarte flambee, or Alsatian pizza) made of a thin, crisp dough smothered in cream as well as bacon and cheese bits.
Given its location in the northeastern portion of the country near Germany, The French generally spend at the very least four days touring the villages and vineyards here typically staying in chambres of hotes (bed-and-breakfasts) or in hotels in the process.
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