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What are your must see places in France.

We visited France for 26 days in 2015. We visited the Loire Valkey, Paris, Alsace region and Normandy.

Now we want to visit the rest of the country. What places do you recommend outside of the regions we have already seen..... where did you just love and why ? Just starting to plan and want to get some ideas.

For reference, we are not big CITY people. We love picturesque towns and beautiful scenery but also adored Paris so who knows what we would love because France won my heart (and my stomach) LOL

Posted by
7662 posts

Loire Valley, Provence, Dordogne, Burgundy… in this order. Charming villages all over, chateaux, beautiful scenery, friendly people, easy driving.

Posted by
741 posts

Susan that sounds right up my alley. Any places in particular ? Sounds lovely.

Posted by
50 posts

I agree with Provence and Burgundy. I would also add the Riviera and Alps.
Here are some of our favorites:
Provence:
Aix
Uzes
Pont du Gard
L'Isle sur la Sorgue
Arles
Avignon
Nimes
Vaison la Romaine
Gigondas & Crestet
Gordes
Roussillon
Bonnieux, Lacoste and Joucas
St. Remy

Burgundy:
Beaune and wine villages surrounding
Vezelay
Semur
Fontenay Abbey awesome
Chateauneuf
We are excited to visit the Dordogne for a week in September. Happy planning!

Posted by
697 posts

I recommend Provence and the riviera and rent a car in both places for the days you won’t be day tripping by train or bus.

Posted by
4437 posts

I prefer the west coast to the south coast, although I would avoid all coastal regions in July and August.

I should now be on the lovely island of Oleron if it weren’t for Covid. It has some gorgeous, cute villages and specialises in oysters that you can buy straight from the fishermen. The local plonk is called Pineau - a fortified wine like a light port. Again, you can buy that straight from the producers (or the supermarket). The neighbouring island of Re is more frou frou-frou and picture card perfect.

From here you can visit the historic port of Rochefort and see the replica frigate Hermione. Rochefort is a candidate to become a UNESCO world heritage site.

La Rochelle has one of the best food markets I have ever visited plus it has the maritime history, boat trips and a world class aquarium.

The fortified village of Brouard is worth a few hours and has some good restaurants and cafes. Walk the old walls and browse the art galleries.

The Venise Vert area (green Venice) is about an hour from La Rochelle and is the cutest part of France that I have seen - sand coloured stone houses with pastel shutters, pretty hollyhocks growing wild, all set amidst a series of small waterways. You can take boat trips from Coulon. It’s like Provence but without the hoards of tourists.

The Dordogne and Provence have their highlights, but they can get too busy for my taste. A few years ago in Domme in the Dordogne, there were more British plated cars in the car park than French.

The Loire is also pretty, but the weather is less certain. Good for chateaux.

Posted by
58 posts

Hi,

I am a big wine, food, art and history fan, so I would recommend Burgundy, Bordeaux, Lyon, Provence and Carcassonne and Nimes.

I loved Burgundy not only for the wines, but the towns of Beaune and Dijon are beautiful: small, quaint, walkable and filled with beautiful architecture, history and food. The same can be said of Bordeaux. Renting a bike, or simply driving, through the vineyards is really a lifelong memory for me.

I love Lyon: it's the 3rd largest French City (about 600K) and has some components that you love about Paris: great architecture, a fine Museum of Fine Arts, [two] beautiful rivers running through the city providing great views, beautiful parks/gardens (Tete d'Or), some of the best food in the world, a gorgeous church at the top of a hill like Sacre Coeur (Notre Dame d'Fourviere) plus an ancient Roman amphitheater right down town.

In Provence, Avignon and Aix en Provence are both musts: again great food, quaint neighborhoods, the Pont du Gard, nice museums, great wine, and a ton of charm.

Nimes and Arles are great because of all the Roman ruins (Maison Carree, the Roman Arena, et al), the wine, sunshine/weather, architecture, etc.

Finally, Carcassonne is great because it is a complete, walled Medieval City preserved in its original state. It is such a sight to see it lit up at night.

Good luck

Posted by
1674 posts

Finally, Carcassonne is great because it is a complete, walled
Medieval City preserved in its original state. It is such a sight to
see it lit up at night.

  • Carcassonne was the 1st place that came to my mind, except I was going to say to get up early and see the sunrise hit the walls in a fiery orange glow in the morning.
  • The Dordogne region and Lascaux Caves was another highlight.
  • Make Nice a headquarters and spend a week or two along the Côte d'Azur-I see a month there in my future.
Posted by
572 posts

I love all of France, but the most striking SIGHTS, the ones that stick with me years later are the Pont du Gard, and walls of Carcassonne at night.

The most memorable EXPERIENCES were kayaking down the Dordogne River, and seeing the D-Day Beaches.

Posted by
741 posts

DarrenBlois. We are very close. Hi neighbor. We are in Shediac. Small world.

Great list everyone. What a great starting point. Off to research them all ASAP. Thank you all. Keep em coming.

Carcasonne was definitely already on the list.

Posted by
234 posts

Provence on the one end, Brittany on the other.

(You might not want to do both on the same trip unless you'll be there for a few weeks. Because there is a LOT of France to cover in between those two regions.)

The coast of Brittany is wild and beautiful, with quaint, rustic villages that are almost tourist-free. We did the Route des Phares which meant driving along the coast and visiting the many lighthouses and it was an unforgettable experience. Picking up sea glass on the beaches of Brittany was one of the highlights of my last trip to France. I should stress that you will need to rent a car to do this, since most of this is off the beaten path which makes the trip so charming.

Provence is also full of quaint villages although many of them are more "touristy." Nice, Avignon, and Nîmes are the main cities that are well worth a visit, and from one of those you can take day trips to other little villages via bus, rental car, or hired tour guides. Another highlight of my recent trip was being in Uzes on a Saturday (market day) - sampling the incredible food and getting a real taste of provincial French life. Also touring Arles and seeing where Van Gogh got the inspiration for some of his work.

Posted by
741 posts

Lisa, great ideas. We plan on a month long trip with a car expect for the few days we would be in Paris.

We have physical limitations but still love travel. We prefer to base ourselves in one place for at least 4 days and day tripping out from there.

Posted by
4529 posts

Carcassonne is great because it is a complete, walled Medieval City preserved in its original state. It is such a sight to see it lit up at night.

Not exactly preserved, more like restored, and with considerable 19th century embellishment like those pointed towers on the walls. Still a wonderful place to visit, especially if you can spend the night inside the medieval city without the daytime crowds.

Photobears, I'd suggest Dordogne and Burgundy. Haven't been to Provence or Lyon but they are on my list.

Dordogne: Sarlat, Beynac, Castelnaud, Domme, Les Eyzies, Lascaux replica, another original cave (we liked Font du Gaume, we hear Peche Merle is very good too, there are others).

Burgundy: Beaune, Semour, Alise, Fontenay, Dijon, Vezelay.

Posted by
741 posts

Tha k you so much Dick. I will check them all out. Such great advice on here. You are all so kind.

Posted by
158 posts

Our absolute favorite area of France is the French Riviera or Cote d'Azur for its spectacular scenery and ease of transportation. We started in Nice and then stayed in Villefranche sur Mer and St. Jean Cap Ferrat. There are trains and buses that take you to the towns of Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, the hilltop village of Eze, and Monaco. The beauty of the Alps in the background and the Mediterranean Sea is stunning. Every corner that you turn there is another amazing view. We enjoyed the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on St. Jean Cap Ferrat, and the charming waterfront in Villefranche sur Mer. In Monaco we saw the Prince's Palace and the Oceanography Museum. This area of France will win your heart!

Posted by
5838 posts

so many great regions -- my favorite is the Dordogne. Lush, lovely food, lovely villages -- a canoe trip on the Dordogne past castles and towns is stunning. I don't have too many snapshots up but here are two collections:
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/montferrand-du-perigord-and-its-12th-century-stone-church-st-christophe/

https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/perfect-place-for-murder-commarque-chateau/
The mystery books by Martin Walker set in this area give you a good feel for the food and sights in the region; he invented an imaginary town based on la Bugue.

Brittany is another wonderful area-- We spent time in St..Malo and then visited the neolithic sites near Carnac --
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/category/brittany/

both areas are best visited with a car; we did Brittany though just with train and then I hired a guide for Carnac who picked us up at the hotel and dropped us at the train for the return to Paris. I think it would be very hard to get much out of the Dordogne without a car and I am grateful that we spent a few weeks there over the years when we could drive.

Posted by
741 posts

Janet. Great advice. We did visit St Malo but didn’t want to say we visited Brittanie, because that is all we saw and didn’t explore further. Thanks for giving me the info.

Posted by
5838 posts

It is very easy to visit Dinan by bus, Dinard by boat, some of the islands, and possible to visit Mont St. Michel by bus from St. Malo. Car is always better in rural areas but Brittany is easier than some places to actually get around by bus with regular schedules. We could have easily gone to Cancale for oysters as well.