Best French Getaways (Outside of Paris!)
Collected by Lindsey Tramuta , AFAR Contributor
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.
77950 Maincy, France
Those who faithfully follow the guidebooks on Paris and its environs will undoubtedly find themselves journeying 10km south west of the capital to Versailles to discover the Sun King’s gilded emblem – an impressive if grandiose symbol of royal...
84250 Le Thor, France
Summer, mid-afternoon in the South of France--there's no better place to be than in the shade, cicadas singing overhead, taking a nap in a hammock hung from a medieval village-wall by a lazy, quiet river... My wife and I were visiting friends in...
41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire, France
Not only is this a beautiful château but is has an incredible view of Loire Valley. Besides the chateau which often houses an art exhibit on its top floor, there are multiple gardens on the grounds that are gorgeous. There is a garden festival...
Aiguille du Midi, 74400 Chamonix, France
France's Chamonix Valley is one of the most scenic places on the European continent. It's a narrow river valley which houses everything from rock-climbing centers to pulsing bars and pubs, and on both sides of the river the peaks of the French...
For our first visit to Corsica, friends encouraged us to start in the south- the Michelin-starred stronghold of the island and beachy birthplace of Napoleon. But crisp turquoise water and a mountainous landscape awaited to the north. We began in...
Place Charles de Gaulle, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. One of the lesser-known, but just as incredible, châteaus in the suburbs of Paris. I flew to Paris and was wandering around the grounds of the beautiful château forty-five minutes after leaving the airport . The...
10 Rue de la Paix, 06360 Èze, France
A maze of narrow medieval streets wind up and down this village perched along the Grande Corniche. The ruins of a château are now an exotic garden, and the 18th-century neoclassical Notre Dame of the Assumption church is a national monument....
156 Rue de Créqui, 69003 Lyon, France
This odd-looking blimp is actually a quenelle de brochet, one of the quintessential foods of Lyon. They're big dumplings made out of pike fish, covered in Sauce Nantua, a classic French sauce made with crayfish. Daniel et Denise, owned by an...
23 Rue Jean Larrivé, 69003 Lyon, France
Best frites (aka French fries) EVER. They were hand-cut by the 87-year old owner, Madame Giraud. I wrote about her in my AFAR article about Lyon's bouchons. These frites were pure heaven paired with Madame's steak with brown butter. (Yes, I did...
Montagne Sainte-Victoire, 13126 Vauvenargues, France
From any corner of Aix-en-Provence, they say, you can see the Mont St. Victoire. I don't know if that's entirely true, but the white limestone mountain does seem to be everywhere when I live in Aix for a few months, peeking over olive groves and...
Chapitre, 13001 Marseille, France
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...
77300 Fontainebleau, France
A quick 40-minute train ride from the Gare de Lyon in central Paris takes you to one of the best day trips out of the city: a forest preserve surrounding a palace that dates back nine centuries. The Forêt de Fontainebleau offers a hundred...
Miramas le Vieux, 13140 Miramas, France
My first day in the South of France, I spent the June afternoon on a borrowed bike, coursing through olive trees around hilltop villages... Although Provence is just a few hours' train-ride south of Paris, when you step off the TGV, you encounter...
5 Place Gabrielle Andéol, 84190 Gigondas, France
A friend of ours in Avignon took us on an amazing tour of this small part of the Rhone wine region. It included lunch at l'Oustalet (restaurantoustalet.com)in the small town of Gigondas. We sat outdoors and had an amazing meal. The place settings...
13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
A sundial in the medieval center of St.-Rémy-de-Provence...Its inscription distills the allure of the South of France: "It is always time to do nothing." Relax. Find a hammock, sip a pastis, inhale the lavender-scented air...
1901 Route de Sorgues, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
Every guest room in this 19th-century castle (whose name means “small rocks”) overlooks the vineyards of France’s famous wine region, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just outside Avignon. The kingly decor includes canopied beds, and...
1 Château du Petit Thouars, 37500 Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, 37500 Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, France
It only looks like pita but this round, airy Fouée bread, a traditional specialty of the Touraine province in France, has a distinct story and utility of its own. According to legend, the Fouée emerged when bakers would test their wood ovens by...
2 Rue Claude Ramey, 21000 Dijon, France
If the ironwork throughout the Les Halles covered market in Dijon, France, reminds you of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, there is good reason. Gustave Eiffel, a native son of Dijon, designed the market in the 19th century. One of France’s largest and...
12320 Conques, France
Conques, located in the Midi-Pyrenees in the south of France, is not an easy place to find. Unless, of course, you're hiking the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. The medieval village, which boasts a gorgeous cathedral and an ample amount...
108 Quai du Port, 13002 Marseille, France
It isn’t wine or cocktails that mark happy hour for locals in Marseille but Pastis, the anise-flavored drink of choice first commercialized by Paul Ricard during the prohibition of absinthe. Ricard’s recipe and formula– star anise, licorice root;...
64250 Espelette, France
Like most of the quaint towns in the Basque country, Espelette is brimming with cultural and culinary riches. Just twenty minutes from the coast and hugged by mountains, this town of 2,000 is best known for the pepper of the same known grown...
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