Best French Getaways (Outside of Paris!)
It may be hard to imagine feeling the necessity to skip town when the capital has so much to offer. But to really understand France - its people, culture, values and storied past - you'll need to reach beyond the well-heeled streets of Paris. Some of these spots make ideal day trips from the city while others deserve your undivided attention. All are picture- perfect so keep your cameras handy.

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Reach Out And Touch The Sky

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France's Chamonix Valley is one of the most scenic places on the European continent. A narrow river valley which houses everything from rock climbing centers to pulsing bars and pubs, on both sides of the valley the peaks of the French Alps explode thousands of feet into the sky.

While there are numerous ways to experience the grandeur of the Alps from Chamonix--riding the ski lift at Les Grands-Montets, mountain biking along the steep ridges, or paragliding off of the many peaks--the most accessible for the common layperson is to ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car, a hair-raising ascent which gains 9,200 vertical ft. over the course of 20 minutes. From the summit perch it's possible to take in a 360-degree view beneath the base of Mont Blanc, and from this frigid vantage point set nearly at the top of Europe, it's almost possible to reach straight out and touch the sky.

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by Bronwen Gregory
AFAR Local Expert
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