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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Solo Simplicity: A Weekend in Marseille

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While living in Paris as an undergrad, I bought a train ticket to Marseille on a whim. It was a weekend trip, and I didn’t take anyone with me, nor meet anyone there -- no plans at all.

The countryside passed in sweet silence on the 3-hour TGV ride. I was happy to be away from my tiresome roommate and busy school schedule, but wondered with pangs of unease what I would do, alone, in a foreign city with (very) little cash.

Before knowing that I would climb up the limestone outcrop to Notre-Dame de la Garde, stroll along the Old Port with a new British friend from my hostel, learn the secrets of filleting fish at harbor-side Marché aux Poissons, or get hopelessly lost in a maze of backstreets in the Arab quarter, I arrived at the Marseille Saint-Charles train station with a backpack and a few packets of applesauce, the city bathed in a soft golden hue, opening before me.

Great Marseille hostel: Vertigo Vieux Port, 38 Rue Fort Notre Dame, Marseille, France; 04 91 54 42 95

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