Even though Paris is one of the most visited city in the world, there are ample vacation spots in France which though a bit discreet and off the beaten track, still radiate as much charm, if not more, than their more well known counterparts. You can stay in a remote chalet in France or backpack around to a few offbeat locations.
France is a unique, beautiful and interesting country with many many places to explore to make for a fantastic holiday.The list below points out a few hidden gems of France, which you may not have heard of, but will find totally amazing and interesting.
In the Languedoc- Roussillon region of southern France, a unique tournament featuring dueling while balancing on a platform from a boat is held every year. This extremely popular event takes place in the lovely coastal town of Sete, and attracts thousands of people, who come here, either to participate or watch the jousters attempting to knock each other off their precarious perch. The town is interconnected with a chain of canals, which has aptly earned it the name “The Venice of Languedoc”.
Etretat is a coastal area in northwest France, which occupies a special place in the history of aviation of the country. It was here in this small village that the famous aircraft The White Bird went missing in 1927 during an attempted flight from Paris to New York. The plane was piloted by the two World War II heroes, Francois Coli and Charles Nungesser, and till date no one knows as to what befell on the ill-fated mission.
Etretat is located in the picturesque Haute-Normandie region and offers stunning views of the sea from the natural white cliffs which tower above from the shore. The nearest major town is the port city of Le Havre, which is just 32 km away. A monument lies erected in Etretat to commemorate the White Bird.
The medieval town of Dinan is located on the River Rance and is today the only surviving walled town in the country. A majority of the residents here are of Breton lineage, a legacy which they fiercely safeguard even till today. The Breton language, is commonly taught in schools here along with French.
Dinan is full of old buildings, like the Rue du Jerzual, which forms a link between the town and the River Rance, which runs below.
Dinan is a place of exceptional beauty and worth a visit, especially during the annual fair, Fete des Remparts, when the locals don medieval clothes to celebrate the rich heritage of the town.
This is the province in East of France, which is considered to be the major cheese producing area. Apart from exploring fascinating cities like Besancon and Montbeliard and their excellent architecture, one can savor the delicious varieties of cheese here. The manufacture of cheese has been going on traditionally here for centuries, with the age old recipes being passed on from generation to generation.
Cheese from the Franche-Comte region has high demand from all over the world. Some of the most popular varieties include, the sweet Comte and the Bleu de Gex. Over all these years, the manufacturers have managed to retain the quality of the products by processing the cheese from only cattle grazing produce.
Prized for the locally produced and unique tasting Le Puy lentils, this scenic town in south-central France sits on the Loire river. The buildings are modeled in exquisite medieval architecture with red roofs of terracotta, which provide a stunning scene when viewed from above.
Le Puy-en-Velay is also the site of the Notre-Dame de France which sits atop a hill overlooking the town. This famous statue consists of 23 cannons captured from the Russians, during the siege of Sevastopol.
Strategically located between the Cevennes mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, the town of Nimes has houses and buildings which are remnants of the Roman empire.The arena built by the Romans in AD 70, still stands at the centre of the city square.The Roman temple, which stands here, has been well preserved, since its inception in AD 19. Nimes, is a popular place to visit in the springtime to catch a glimpses of the Camargue bullfights.
The tiny port city of Cancale, has been known for centuries as a major oyster cultivating town. Cancale is situated ten miles to the east of St-Malo. The town witnesses some of the largest tides anywhere in the country, and it is quite a spectacle to see hundreds of fishing boats get stranded when it ebbs. The place does get a bit crowded in summers because of the many high quality seafood outlets which vie with each other along the quayside. Another tourist spot worth visiting is the dramatic Pointe du Grouin, which is just a short hike away.
Lens, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, is one of the most overlooked cities in the entire country. Once a thriving mining town, Lens today, is home to the famous Louvre-Lens museum, a branch of the world renowned museum in Paris. For history buffs or travel bloggers, Lens has many relevant war sites pertaining to the Battle of the Somme.
There are so many myths associated with travelling to France and making a beeline for Paris and the Eiffel Tower to be the ultimate French vacation. What many don’t realise that there are other places all over the country which are equally magnificent and can be termed as a holiday destination, albeit a bit off the radar.