Paris will of course be your number one choice when visiting France for the first time but remember that if you are staying for more than a few days there are plenty of other charming towns outside of Paris that you can visit for a day. This article will be extremely helpful to those of you returning to France and wishing to go somewhere different. France has so many beautiful regions and wonders for you to discover, each with their own particularities, history, landscapes, climates and local food specialties.
You can reach the larger cities, such as Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux, directly by plane either from Paris or outside of France but the smaller towns, such as Giverny or Honfleur, you will have to reach by train, bus or car. When it comes to arranging transport, you should use GoEuro in order to find the best rates and travel routes to then book your tickets through them. Go Euro is also connected with AirBnb so you will also be redirected immediately to Airbnb’s selection of places for your destination and on your selected dates which is really practical. You can even adjust your search criteria based on time or cost depending on what’s your travel priority.
The beautiful port of Honfleur makes you feel as if you were in a painting. The colours of the buildings, the arrangement of the boats all seem perfect. You will be charmed by the lovely little cobblestone streets around the town where you will find lots of jewellery boutiques, antique shops and the lovely Sainte-Catherine church which is the largest church in France made of wood! You can also go to the nearby beach in Deauville which is where all the Parisians go in the summer to make the most of the sunny days by the sea.
🏨 Les Maisons de Léa - an elegant country style hotel located in the heart of Honfleur which also has a luxurious spa.
🍴 La Cidrerie - a warm and welcoming restaurant that serves the most delicious crepes, both sweet and savoury.
Marseille is the second largest and most populated city of France after Paris and has a rich mixture of culture, history and modernity. The city is predominantly sunny all year round making it a very attractive destination, especially to go to the calenques in the summer (between Marseille and Cassis) which are narrow inlets that have been formed by corrosion of sea or rivers inland. The result is breathtaking: a combination of crustal clear turquoise blue sea and tall white limestone cliffs. In Marseille city you must definitely go up to visit the wonderful Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica.
🏨 Hotel Carré Vieux Port - a lovely hotel perfectly located by the old port of Marseille.
🍴 La Boîte à Sardine - a quirky fish restaurant in the centre of Marseille that serve fresh fish and seafood caught on the day by local fishermen.
Bordeaux is one of the most famous wine regions of France which has given an international notoriety to this city. There are many monuments to visit such as the Gothic Saint-André Cathedral, the Opera, the Beaux-Arts museum of Bordeaux and the grand Place de la Bourse with its Miroir d’Eau (reflecting pool). On the warm sunny days everyone heads by the Garonne River for picnics, bike rides, skating, making it really pleasant to spend the day out in the fresh air. If you have an extra day to spare then you should head down to the Dune of Pilat for a day at the sea (FYI-it’s the tallest sand dune in Europe!).
🏨 L’Hôtel Particulier - a charming hotel which is perfectly located in the centre of Bordeaux next to the Saint-André Cathedral.
🍴 TentaziOni - a family run restaurant serving gastronomical Italian/French cuisine.
If you’re a champagne lover then there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy the Champagne region in France. From endless vineyards to the most beautiful towns such as Reims with is magnificent cathedral, Troyes and Épernay, there’s plenty to see in this prestigious part of France. You can organise a tour around some of the most renowned Champagne Houses (Dom Perignon, Krug, Ruinart) to explore their cellars and do some tastings. This region is a UNESCO world heritage site meaning that its importance is worldwide recognised.
🏨 Hotel Le Clos Raymi - a classic and elegant hotel in Épernay built in the 19th Century with rooms that are all individually designed.
🍴 La Gare - a convivial restaurant serving traditional French dishes, which used to even be a train station (hence its name in French).
Only 75km away from Paris, this charming little town in Normandy is famous for Claude Monet’s house and gardens. The best time to go to Giverny is from end of March to end of October when the Claude Monet Foundation is open. The flowers and plants change throughout the seasons offering a different picturesque landscape every month: tulips, daffodils and cherry blossom in the spring; roses, poppies, sunflowers and waterlilies in the summer; and dahlias and other warm coloured flowers in the autumn.
🏨 Les Jardins d’Hélène - a beautiful B&B in the heart of Giverny.
🍴 Jardins des Plumes - a wonderful Michelin-starred restaurant which is also a stunning hotel.
Read more: A Romantic Weekend in Giverny
Have you been to any of these places in France?
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English and French wanderer. Based in Paris. Tasting the world through one escape to another...