The Best France Bucket List | Everything you need to see at least once

France. It is so much more than the Eiffel Tower in Paris (although this is a must on your France Bucket list). From the city of love to the alps to the beautiful and adorable towns and villages. France has so much to offer that you could spend months exploring this beautiful country. In fact, why don’t you spend months exploring France?

On your next French adventure, make sure you tick off some these big France Bucket List items and create some memories to last you a life time. From food, to city sights and perfect landscapes there is something on this French bucket list for everyone.

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Places you must visit on your bucket list in France

On this France Bucket list you will find places to visit, food to eat and things to do in France. The best time of year to visit, what you need to do at each location, places to stay and so much more. Since my first trip to France many moons ago, I return home dreaming of the next time, I’ll be wandering down the cobblestone streets, sipping on champagne and eating the most amazing cheese.

If you think I am missing somewhere on this list, please let me know in the comments in below so I can bring you the best French Bucket List possible. Happy reading!

The Alsace

Bec, Wyld Family Travel

Two children sitting on a bridge looking at a river flowing through a town filled with half timber buildings

Anyone looking for a bucket place to visit in France then look no further than a visit to the Alsace. The Alsace is known the world over for its fairytale villages, delicious cuisine and world-class wines.

For many a visit to the Alsace for the famous Christmas market is at the top of their list. People from all over the world flock to towns like Strasbourg, Eguisheim, Colmar and Mullhouse to experience the markets for themselves. The Christmas Spirit is alive with many of the towns not only having markets but completely immersing themselves in all things Christmas from lights to carolling in the main square and to all the very best food.

Some places will be shut including many of the vineyards and some attractions like La Montagne des Singes a refuge to over 200 Barbary Macaques.

Winter in the Alsace is not for everyone though and some decide to visit in the spring or the summer months so they can enjoy the Alsace Wine Route to the fullest. Driving through the Alsace is easy with the roads well signed and in good condition but for many driving internationally is one thing they cannot bring themselves to do. If this is you then do not fear.

There are plenty of day tours that will take you to plenty of the wineries in the region and many will also have a wine cave in towns, where you can sample some of what they have to offer. For many tourists to the Alsace, there is nothing better than finding a little restaurant in a gorgeous square and sitting in the sun having a magnificent meal. 

Food and wine aren’t the only things though. You can visit so many attractions like the stunning Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg, Fort Wegner Gingerbread Museum, Mont St Odile, hiking in the Vosges, Struthof Concentration Camp and Neuf Brisach. There is something for everyone in the Alsace.

Avignon

Ashleigh, Ashleigh’s Atlas

A view over the bridge and castle in Avignon, France

If you’re looking for the best places in France to go, make sure you add Avignon to your France bucket list.

Avignon is a charming small town in Provence. It has beautiful cobbled streets and feels like it’s out of a fairytale.

The best way to see Avignon is to just get lost wandering around the streets. The architecture is incredible and it’s beautiful to see on foot. Also make sure to visit Palais des Papes – a beautiful palace where popes used to live in the 14th century. You’ll be amazed how big it is.

Not far out of the city you can also visit Pont du Gard, a historic aqueduct bridge built in Roman times. It’s a beautiful bridge and also the engineering at the time is incredible.

The best time to visit is in September, once the busy Summer tourist crowds have left, but it’s still lovely and warm. You could also visit in Spring (April and May). Avoid August which will be hot and crowded.

Go to Vezzo Pizza – a little pizza restaurant hidden in a back alley. It doesn’t look like much, but it has some of the best pizza you will ever try.

You can fly directly to Avignon. If you’re coming from Paris, it’s a 3 hour train ride.

Try to stay near the city centre so you can easily walk around.

Bayeux

Faith, XYUandBEYOND

Flowers and houses lining the river Aure in Bayeux France

How could Bayeux not be on anyone’s bucket list? It would be a mystery, Bayeux is home to the world’s oldest and most famous tapestry dating from 1066. The town is full of medieval buildings, a stunning cathedral and several museums. This charming town will have you falling in love with the Normandy region of France.

The breathtaking Tapestry of Bayeux is a 68-meter-long embroidered cloth that tells the story of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The tapestry is hung in a massive room with dim lighting so as not to damage the fine linen and wool threads.

Wandering Bayeux’s picturesque old town area with the river Aure running through it and finding its ancient watermills and seeing flowers everywhere Bayeux is one of the most charming places in Northern France. 

Bayeux was also one of the first towns to be liberated in WWII and was saved from the bombing during the Allied Invasion due to its narrow streets and significantly preserved.

The Cathedral de Bayeux is the center piece of this pretty town and you can spot the spire bathed in golden lights from anywhere in town. The cathedral itself is over 900 years old and has survived countless wars over hundreds of years. The interior is filled with patterned light from the gorgeous stained glass windows and the crypt is a haunting place to visit. 

In Bayeux the place to shop is the weekly market in Saint Patrice Square. Every Saturday morning you will find all the locals out shopping and get to enjoy tastes of Normandy terroir products including Calvados, incredible cheeses and ciders There are dozens of varieties of garlic to locally grown fresh seasonal vegetables, beds, and even clothing.

There is no lack of WWII history however and on the outskirts of Bayeux you will find the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy and the heart-wrenching Bayeux War Cemetery. The proximity to the beaches of Normandy allows you to see the impact of war and its consequences.

The best place to stay in Bayeux is the Tiny House au Coeur, this fabulous space is located right in the centre of old town a short walk from the Tapestry Museum and the incredible Cathedral. There is parking right in front of the house, the hosts are very friendly and speak English and you cannot beat the beautiful little house with comfortable seating, modern shower room and romantic setting.

For dinner make sure you make a reservation at La Rapière which is located on a small ancient lane just of the main street of rue St Martin on rue St Jean in the heart of the city of Bayeux. The restaurant is within a natural stone room dating from the 16th century. Linda and Simon who own the restaurant speak English and the food is absolutely superb. 

Biarritz

Jenny, Tales from the Lens

Côte des Basques in the south of Biarritz, France

Biarritz is one of the most beautiful and chilled beach towns in the southwest of France. Once a hub for pirates and corsairs, Biarritz has become a ritzy destination to add to your bucket list, thanks to its famous surfing spots, sunny summers, chic boutique hotels and amazing French Basque cuisine!

One of the best things to do in Biarritz is to walk from the lighthouse on the north side to the Côte des Basques in the south, where surfers gather at low tide. On the way, make sure to stop at the “Rocher de la Vierge” which is one of the best spots to take a photo of the coastline or watch the sunset.

It is best to visit Biarritz from May to October when the weather is warm and the city buzzing with international and local tourists. While Biarritz is great for a weekend getaway it is also the perfect hub for longer summer holidays and to discover the French Basque country. From the city, you can easily take day trips along the Atlantic coast, the Spanish Basque country or towards the French countryside and the Pyrenees. There are a lot of small but beautiful villages to visit nearby such as Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Espelette or Hendaye.

Biarritz is easily reachable from Paris, Bordeaux or Toulouse via a reliable motorway network. If you come from abroad, it is only 15 min away from Bayonne airport and train station, but also only 50 km away from San Sebastian in Spain.

Bourg-st-maurice

The Superyacht Chef

Bourg-St-Maurice is the stepping off point for many travellers to the French Alp region, the Savoie. Opting to stay in Bourg-St-Maurice is a savvy decision as you can easily drive to other famous ski fields such as Tignes, Val’d Isere, Courchevel and Chamonix. Bourg-St-Maurice is a bucket list destination because of the stunning alpine views and the multitude of activities available in the area.

Most visitors come to Bourg-St-Maurice to experience the Les Arcs and Paradiski as the region is home to the largest concentration of ski resorts in the world. But the summer months are also popular with families visiting to hike, do via ferratas and mountain bike among other outdoor pursuits. The predictable weather of Bourg-St-Maurice makes it a perfect holiday destination year-round.

Even during peak season, hotels in Bourg (as it is affectionately known) are reasonably priced. Accommodation options range from fully staffed private chalets to budget self-service studio apartments. Staying up in the ski village is picturesque but staying in the township gives you greater flexibility for exploring other areas in the region.

A highly recommended hotel is the Hotel Base Camp Lodge. It boasts dorm rooms for those on a budget while also offering regular rooms and suits with mezzanine floors. This tastefully decorated and newly renovated property is a favourite with guests around the world for their expansive breakfast offering at their attached restaurant. Throughout the year the BC7 Lodge will often hosts evening events with live singers and movie screenings.

Getting there is easy, the TVG has a direct line with Paris and Amsterdam in the winter. For international travellers, most people fly into Geneva or Lyon airport and get a transfer. Self-driving is also very common for Europeans, but a word of warning, if you do self-drive, or hire a car nearby, ensure it has winter tires. 

There is a funicular in the town, which can take you directly up to the ski village of Les Arcs and a free bus around town. Most of the township can be easily accessed by foot.

Savoie region has some of the best alpine foods to try too. Make sure you have a tartiflette, a potato dish smothered in cheese and oven baked. And of course local wines are plentiful with a few vineyards a short drive away from Bourg-St-Maurice. 

Corsica

Mary, Be Right Back

The coast line in Corsica

Corsica, also known as the “beauty island”, is a small island located in the south of France which offers a variety of landscapes including beaches, mountains, deserts and the countryside.

The best time to visit this island is summer, roughly between June and September as this period offers the best weather with temperatures going over 30°C on the hottest days. This beautiful weather is perfect to enjoy some of the best beaches in Corsica, made of thin golden sand and featuring clear turquoise waters.

Some of the other things to enjoy in Corsica include visiting the authentic towns on the island, and eating traditional dishes such as chestnut cake and figatellu. Winter is also a good time to visit Corsica especially if you like hiking! The GR20 is a popular walk that goes across Corsica. Visitors usually plan to walk sections only of the GR20 as it can be a difficult one. 

There are lots of places you can capture amazing photos from in Corsica. The pull out on the road after Monticello is one of the best viewpoints on the island, and offers incredible views on the valley and the turquoise waters. 

You can reach Corsica from France, either by ferry from the ports of Nice, Marseille and Toulouse or by air from Paris. You can also reach Corsica from Italy by taking the ferry from Genoa or Savona. You can stay at Casa Bianca to enjoy views on the island from the pool!

Dijon

Kat, France Voyager

Liberation Square in Dijon France

Dijon, Burgundy, is absolutely a France bucket list place to visit! 

Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, is a dream to visit for its culinary delights like its mustard, coq au vin, and boeuf bourguignon. It also has plenty of affordable Michelin Guide restaurants with incredible tasting menus like L’Essential and Parapluie. 

A visit to Dijon must include following the owl plaques during the Parcours de la Chouette, a self-guided walking tour of the city that features 22 stops to places like Notre Dame and Les Halles. 

For a great place to take a photo, opt for Liberation Square, which is located right in the historic center in front of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, which happens to be the fine arts museum now. 

However, a great reason to stay in Dijon is to use this as a base for exploring the vineyards of Burgundy! If you love Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, then a bike tour from Beaune is the perfect way to sip wine in one of the most iconic wine regions of the world! 

Wine barrels in Dijon, France

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Dijon, but if you plan to visit the vineyards of Burgundy, fall is a lovely time of year for the harvest season. 

To get to Dijon, you can take the 1.5-hour train ride from Paris. And for a lovely place to stay, opt for Hotel Oceania Le Jura Dijon. Located between the train station and the old city, it is a great spot to base yourself for exploring the area.

Etretat

Zoe, Together In Transit

White cliffs on the Alabaster Coast in France

For a pretty, seaside France bucket list location, Etretat in the Normandy region is the perfect unique location. This French coast location is a must-see for the relaxation, seaside exploration and to see the beautiful white cliffs from the Alabaster Coast. It is one of the main locations along the coast, with everyone coming here at least once! 

Arriving in Etretat is an easy 2 hours 40mins drive by car from Paris, else it’s a similar expected time with train and bus. Else you can of course visit from other cities with public transportation, but car travel is easiest. There is lots of parking once you arrive too. 

Etretat is a popular destination in the Spring and Summer mostly, but can of course be enjoyed all year round. It’s a great location for the France bucket list due the nature as the top highlight. You can walk along the cliffs on the coastal walk, allowing you also visit the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

However, there are also more things to spend your time at, such as visiting the Benedictine Palace and the Etretat Gardens. Here you can take your time exploring the open space before heading back to the city center for some local cider and French crepe.

For somewhere cute to stay, there are many camping, hotels and cute B&Bs in the whole area to choose from. As a recommendation, check La villa 10 hotel – it’s located perfectly between the cliffs and walking distance of the center of Etretat. They have super friendly staff for helping with anything!

French Riviera

Denise, Chef Denise

With one of the most scenic coastlines in the world, the French Riviera should definitely be on your bucket list for France! It begins at the Italian-French border and extends east to Marseille. Marseille and Nice are the biggest cities on the Côte d’Azur, and both make terrific hubs to see the surrounding areas. 

Although, if you can only pick one, choose to stay in Nice at Le Meridien Hotel across from the beach. Walk the Promenade des Anglais to the castle where you’ll have beautiful views of Nice. The Vieux Ville oozes with old world charm where historic pastel buildings line the pedestrian area of the Cours Saleya. Nice has so much to see and do, you can easily spend a week here. 

With excellent public transportation, it’s easy to take day trips from Nice even if you don’t have a car. This section of the French Riviera offers everything from quaint fishing villages like Villefranche-sur-Mer to the ultra-posh Monaco, to the hilltop Medieval villages of Eze and Saint Paul de Vence. If you do have the chance to drive the windy coastal roads overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean from Menton to Nice, the stunning vistas will take your breath away. 

At the east end of the French Riviera, lies the cultural melting pot of Marseille. A little grittier than Nice, Marseille’s old port is not to be missed. Besides eating lots of Bouillabaisse, visiting Cassis and the hiking through the Calanques Nation Park are the highlights from Marseille. 

The Mediterranean climate makes the French Riviera a wonderful vacation place in France at anytime of year, but if you’re determined to swim, avoid the winter. 

Hilltop villages of the Luberon

Leyla, Off Beat France

The hilltop villages of Luberon in France

Tucked away in the hills of Provence is the romantic region of the Luberon, with its hilltop villages, fortified castles and undulating lavender fields. Once a well-guarded secret by the French who vacationed here, the planetary success of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence put the Luberon smack at the top of the map.

By now most of us are all familiar with the perched village of Ménerbes and its local café pastis-sipping patrons, but perhaps less familiar are some of the other hilltop villages of the Luberon. 

It’s not the only one – there are dozens, all beautiful, all welcoming, and choosing which to visit is often an excruciating decision.

The village of Gordes is one of the most popular, qualifying as one of France’s most beautiful villages (as do several in this region). One of the intriguing sights in this village are the long walls of dry stone, an ancestral technique now protected by UNESCO. Wherever you walk in Gordes, you’ll see these stones, tidily sitting one on top of the other. Some ancient villages, called “bories”, are built this way and should be visited.

Another fabulous village is Roussillon, built atop ochre cliffs in a region that once produced plenty of ochre. For a small fee, follow the Ochre Trail away from town and into the rust-colored hills – just don’t wear shoes that get dirty easily!

And so it goes, with each village having its specialty, whether it is a special chateau, a hike, a particular restaurant or a pastry made nowhere else. 

The Luberon is east of Avignon and north of Aix-en-Provence – but you will need a car, as there is very little public transport between the villages. Staying inside one of the villages has its charms, for example at the Clos de la Glycine in Roussillon.

But a room in the countryside, in the valley, is equally charming, surrounding you with the scent of lavender in summer. Just remember that if you’re visiting at the height of summer, air conditioning in your room might be wise… this is Provence, after all! 

Hot air ballooning in the Loire Valley

Lisa, Waves and Cobblestones

A view over the Loire Valley from a hot air balloon

France’s Loire Valley is a gorgeous destination — well known for its wines, beautiful scenery, and for its three hundred châteaux.  For a truly unforgettable experience, splurge on a hot-air balloon ride over châteaux!

Awaken early and drive out into the peaceful countryside where the hot-air balloon (or, montgolfière, in French) and its crew await.  After the balloon is launched, enjoy panoramic views of the countryside unfolding below as the balloon glides silently through the sky.

The views of the villages, farmlands, and forests are lovely, but the million-dollar views start as the flight approaches the châteaux.  Keep the camera close at hand and be careful not to drop it – it’s a long way down. 

If the winds are favorable, the balloon flight may pass over more than one château.  One of the most magnificent and photogenic is the Château de Chenonceau.  This beauty was built spanning the River Cher, and the symmetry of its arches reflecting in the smooth waters of the river is gorgeous.  The Château de Chenonceau also boasts two lovely landscaped gardens which are amazing to view from the gondola of a balloon.

Have a hankering to see more châteaux?  There are many fantastic ones to choose from, to suit any interest.  For example, garden enthusiasts will adore a visit to Château de Villandry with its formal gardens in six different styles.   

The town of Amboise is centrally located in the Loire Valley and is an excellent home base for this bucket-list experience.  Amboise is located southwest of Paris, about two and a half hours by car.  Hôtel Bellevue is in a perfect location in Amboise.  It overlooks the Loire River and nearly sits on the doorstep of the Château Royal d’Amboise.

The months of April through October are the best time to visit the Loire Valley.  July and August are France’s main summer vacation months and will have the most crowds.  Aim for spring to enjoy the fabulous gardens in bloom at the châteaux, or autumn to enjoy the splendid colors of the fall foliage. 

Jura Region

Caroline, Veggie Wayfarer

The landscape in the Jura Region in France

France has many beautiful places to visit, the country is, in fact, one of the most visited in Europe. This often entails having to share your wonderful vacation with a lot of other eager visitors. If busy places and dangerous selfie sticks are not entirely up your alley, yet you still want to get a taste of France then the Jura Region is the perfect place for you.

This unknown region in Eastern France has a long history of producing salt, the famous comté cheese and wines (white, red and even yellow). Before we delve into the merits of drinking yellow wine, let’s check how to get to the Jura Region. A direct high-speed train runs daily from Paris (2h30 ride), get off at Besançon station. Your best bet to explore the region is to rent a car, car rental services are available at the Besançon train station. Alternatively, rent a car in Paris and make the trip down by car (4h20 comfortable drive).

Highlights of the Jura region are learning about the history of salt production in the UNESCO classified Arc-et-Senans, a monumental utopian feat or architecture that sadly never saw its true potential and the salt extraction plant at Salin-les-Bains (still producing salt to this very day); discovering the art of watchmaking in the city known as the capital of time, Besançon; tasting the delicious local Comté cheese at the Comté museum; stepping back in time to explore the childhood home of Louis Pasteur in Arbois; hiking around the magnificent Quatre Lacs des Belvederes and finally tasting some of the local wines.

On the subject of local wines, be sure to get a sip of Cremant, Vin de Paille (this famous yellow wine) and the – very sweet – Macvin digestif.

The best time to go is autumn when the foliage turns 100 shades of oranges and reds. It is the picture-perfect postcard of autumn, although this also tends to be the season that gets the most rain so be sure to pack a good rain jacket and walking boots.

Base yourself in the historic Hotel le Sauvage in Besançon for the duration of your trip, incidentally also one of the top places to go for dinner in the city.

Les Machines de L’Île

Cosette, KarsTravels

The Grand Elephant in Les Machines de L’Île

Les Machines de L’Île is a must-visit in Nantes, one of the best cities to visit in France. The cleverly made machines are fantastic to see and provide an afternoon to a whole day of fun. The machines are inspired by Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Machines consist of three separate attractions. At the Galerie de Machines are several working mechanical animals and there is the craftsman shop. Le Grand Elephant is a large mechanical elephant on which rides are possible. Le Carrousel des Mondes Marins is a carousel with several layers with rides.

Summer is the best time to visit since the opening times are the longest in July and August. In January it’s closed.

The Esplanade des traceurs de coques between the Galerie de Machines and the Carrousel des Mondes Marins is the best place for photos. It gives the best option to photograph Le Grand Elephant when it’s walking and the Carrousel. The other objects are inside the Galerie and each requires a different angle.

Nantes has more to offer than just the Machines de L’Île, such as the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. The Château houses the Musée d’Histoire de Nantes.

The Machines can be reached by car or public transport. There’s a paid parking garage across the street from the Galerie. With public transport take tramway ligne 1 to stop Chantiers Navals. From there cross the Pont Anne de Bretagne.

A good place to stay at in Nantes is the Zenitude Hotel-Residence Nantes-La Beaujoire. It has a pool and kitchens in the apartments.

 Make reservations online for the Galerie, the ride on the Elephant and the Carrousel. This way you can visit it as smoothly as possible. Still expect long waiting lines at the Carrousel.

Lyon

Eloise, My Favourite Escapes

A statue of a soldier on a horse in front of a castle in Lyon, France

Lyon is France’s second-largest city, and it is also known as being the capital of gastronomy. This would be a good enough reason to add it to any France bucket list. But food and wine are only one of the many reasons why Lyon is worth visiting. There are also splendid historic buildings to see in the old town.

The easiest way to get to Lyon is by train. The city is only 2 hours away from Paris with the high-speed train. The train station is in the heart of the town, so you can easily start exploring on foot the inner-city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can see the Basilique de Fourviere perched on a hill from almost anywhere and aim for it as you wander in the old town. Place Bellecour, the Bonaparte bridge and the Cathedral Saint-Jean are some of the many monuments you’ll want to check out while in Lyon. An old funicular from the 1850s will take you to the Fourviere basilica.

From up there, the panoramic city views may inspire you to book a river tour to see the city from a different angle. 

You’ll find many restaurants, called “Bouchons”, at the bottom of the hill, in the Vieux Lyon. Don’t forget to order a glass of wine with your meal; Lyon is located between several reputed wine regions, including the famous Rhone Valley and Burgundy. And if you don’t have enough time for a trip to a winery, you will still find opportunities for wine tasting in the city.

You can find many hotels in the old town. Check out La Cour des Loges and its stunning decors for a memorable stay. 

Monet’s Gardens

Erica, Travels with Erica

The pond surrounded by trees and flowers in Monet's Garden, France

Visiting Monet’s Gardens in Giverny is a must-do when in France.  You get to explore Monet’s two massive gardens that influenced a lot of his work and tour the artist’s house.

In the large gardens further away from the house, be sure to snap a picture of the bridge over the water, so you can compare your photo to Monet’s famous painting Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies. 

The gardens are only open from April through the beginning of November every year, and admission tickets cost €13 for an adult. 

Giverny is only a 45-minute train ride from Paris, so you can easily visit Monet’s Gardens as a day trip from the capital. 

Trains to Giverny depart every hour from Saint-Lazare Paris train station.  You want to get off at Vernon-Giverny station.  After getting off the train, you take a short shuttle bus from the station to the gardens.

The first shuttle departs at 9:15am, and you’ll want to be on it to avoid the crowds and have a relaxing experiencing at Monet’s Gardens.  The tour buses arrive around noon, and the gardens become very crowded.

Before you leave, be sure to stop at one of the local restaurants in Giverny just a short walk away from Monet’s Gardens.  You’ll enjoy a delicious meal in one of the most beautiful settings in France. 

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of Giverny for more than a day, you can rent a cottage at L’Orée de Giverny rather than returning to Paris.  

Mont Saint Michel

Victoria, Guide Your Travel

Mont Saint Michel in France

Mont Saint Michel is one of France’s most famous landmarks although few international tourists have this remarkable place on their bucket list when they first come to France.

This beautiful island with its historic abbey is a great place to visit on a day trip if you’re on a road trip through France or visiting beautiful Normandy. You can visit Mont Saint Michel year round although the  best time to go is in summer when the weather is nice. You can stay at a campsite right opposite Mont Saint Michel which is affordable but tends to sell out quickly.

You can get to Mont Saint Michel by public transport but most people tend to drive since it isn’t really located close to anything else. There is a large parking lot located close by which costs 14€ per day. This is definitely not cheap but entrance to the island itself is free and there are even free shuttles that will take you to Mont Saint Michel.

If you choose to walk it will take around 40 minutes across the recently built bridge which connects the island to the mainland. On the island you can visit the historic abbey although this will cost extra. Just walking around Mont Saint Michel is well worth it though and a fantastic experience.

Provence

Shobha, Just Go Places Blog

An abbey set in the hills surrounded by lavender fields

Thanks to all the famous books and films set in Provence, this region has become a bucket list item for many people visiting France. Located in the south of France, Provence has a lot of variety in its geography – from the beaches of the French Riviera to the islands of the coast to the hillside villages clinging to the side of mountains. The temperate climate has made it a firm favourite of vacationers from the North of Europe for hundreds of years.

The best time to visit Provence is the spring and late summer in order to avoid the tourist crowds. However, go in June and you’ll see picture-postcard fields of lavender wafting under a piercing blue sky. You really can’t take a bad photo from anywhere in Provence. The region is famous for its soft filtered light made famous in many a Van Gogh painting.

The one highly-recommended hillside village to visit is Gordes. Not only is it beautiful itself, it has a major farmers market from which you can sample the local produce. The famous lavender fields of the Abbe de Senanque are also nearby. On the road into town, there is a photo stop (with easy parking spots available) from where you can see the buildings that make up Gordes spill down the hillside.

Provence is easily reached from Nice which is the nearest international airport. Alternatively, Marseilles and Avignon are also the two big cities in the region. The Le Petit Palais d’Algae in the outskirts of Gordes has amazing views over the surrounding countryside.

Reims

Bernadette, Book Retreats

A lady pouring glasses of Champagne in France

Reims is a quick train ride away from Paris and it is on the bucket list for many champagne lovers as it is in the champagne country of France. 

Sparkling wine can be produced anywhere in the world, but it can only be called champagne if it is from the champagne wine region. Reims is the heart of the champagne region where many well-known brands have wineries and cellars in town such as Veuve Clicquot, G.H. Mumm, and Taittinger. 

Many of the rows of grapevines on the hills have been there for generations. The valley is the perfect place to grow grapes that have high levels of acidity, which is what is necessary for champagne. While underground, cellars are carved into the chalk substrate which provides the right conditions to ferment the wine.

Most champagne houses offer tours of the wineries and cellars with champagne tastings so it is a good way to learn more about the region, the champagne making process, and get to enjoy a bubbly glass of champagne.

There is more to Reims than its famous drink, it also has historical significance as it is the traditional site for coronation ceremonies. The coronation of French kings is held at the Reims Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Gothic architecture. 

The best time to visit is between the spring and fall, especially in September when it is the time to harvest grapes. For some old-world charm, the Château Les Crayères is a great place to call home for the trip. It is a more quiet option outside the city center and near the champagne cellars. 

Many cellars offer tours from Paris, including tastings and lunch:

Riquewihr

Laura, Laure Wanders

Half timbered buildings in Riquewihr, France

Riquewihr is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in the Alsace region of France. It’s an enchanting town full of colourful half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and small alleys.

Wandering its streets feels as if you’re in a fairytale, so it’s no wonder that the village in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was inspired by Riquewihr and the nearby town of
Ribeauvillé.

Another great thing about Riquewihr is its beautiful surroundings. It’s located along the Alsace Wine Route, and there are plenty of beautiful hikes you can do in the region.

If you like visiting Christmas markets, then December is a great time to visit Riquewihr. At this time of the year, the streets are beautifully decorated with plenty of ornaments. But spring and summer are also a good time to visit this town.

If you want to avoid the crowds, however, it’s better to visit Riquewihr during the low season (January, February, March, April, June, October).

The easiest way to reach Riquewihr is by taking the bus from Colmar, which is just 12 km further.

If you enjoy cycling, you could also rent a bike to get there. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the surrounding vineyards on your way there! It’s also possible to reach
Riquewihr by car or to book a guided tour from Colmar.

Toulouse

Pauline, France Pocket Guide

The sunsetting behind the bridge and cathedral in Toulouse France

If you are visiting South-West France, spending a day in Toulouse is a must-do.

While not as famous as Paris or Nice, Toulouse is still a very interesting place to visit, especially if you are interested in learning more about the local culture.

You can easily get there by train (Matabiau Station) or plane (Toulouse airport).

The first place you should check out is the Capitole. It’s the main square in the city that’s where you’ll find the stunning city hall. From there, you can walk to La Daurade and along the quays of the River Garonne.

If you are into photography, this will be an excellent place to take beautiful pictures since you have the river and the stunning dome of La Grave in the background.

You can then make your way back through Saint-Pierre and head to the famous Jacobins convent.

Some of the other interesting sights include the St Sernin basilica, Les Abattoirs museum and the Cité de l’Espace.

In the evening, make sure to go to Esquirol or Carmes. They are a lively neighbourhood and you will find many restaurants and bars. Locals love this area and you can be sure to have fun!

In terms of accommodation, make sure to book a hotel in the city centre, ideally near Jean Jaurès, Capitole or Esquirol. The Mercure Toulouse Centre Wilson Capitole is an excellent option. It’s very well located and good value for money.

What are your favourite memories in France? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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