7 beautiful places to visit in france - that aren't paris!

Thinking of heading to Europe this summer? Why not set yourself up with an amazing France vacation rental, and discover that there's so much more to this remarkable country than just Paris.

Here are seven beautiful places that shouldn't be missed!

 

Marseille

Located at the edge of the Mediterranean, this bustling port city is bursting with culture. Take a walk along its stunning avenues lined with grand hotels and Haussmannian town houses toward the Vieux Port and pop into Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée - a spectacular feat of architectural beauty (especially when lit up at night!).

If you've still got some energy, why not climb the hill to the north of the old port and get lost in the warren of streets said to be the oldest urban quartier in France.

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Don't miss: a day trip along the calanques. These spectacular limestone cliffs extend 20 miles to the south of the city and are said to be the most dramatic along the entire of the French Mediterranean coast. Tours can be arranged at the port, with a 2 hour trip costing around 25 Euro.

 

Charmonix

If you're looking for a winter break, but you're more of a snow bunny than a sun god, then Chamonix may well be for you! Situated in the heart of the Rhônes Alpes region, and home to the Mont Blanc (the highest mountain in Europe) this popular ski-resort will provide you with perfect slopes - and all the fondue and hot chocolate you can take!

Even if you're not an advanced skier, do not fear! With 17 peaks in the surrounding area, it's a fantastic spot for mountaineers and climbers, or take in the slightly easier hike to Lac Blanc which can be done in a day.

Don't miss: Take the train to the pretty little alpine village of Montenvers. This delightful 20 minute journey offers fantastic views of the Chamonix valley and Aiguilles Rouges, Le Dru, La Verte and the more distant Grandes Jorasses and delivers its passengers to 'Mer de Glace', a spectacular seven kilometre glacier - and the third larges to the Alps. Return tickets cost 31.50 Euro.

 

French Riviera

The rich and famous aboard multi-million dollar yachts, designer stores, fabulous restaurants and a pretty stunning coastline, if budget isn't a concern, consider spending your summer along the French Riviera.

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Stretching from St Tropez to Menton, near the border with Italy, the Cote d'Azur - so named after the deep azure blue of the Mediterranean Sea that hugs the land - provides plenty for even the most discerning tourist.

Don't miss: Antibes, Vallauris or Mougins - the towns made famous by Picasso, the beautiful city of Nice, or, the colourful parasols that line the beaches of Cannes. 

Sipping champagne surrounded by billionaires more your cup of tea? Be sure to check out Cap d'Antibes and Villefranche-sur-Mer - just maybe take the credit card!

 

Verdon Gorge

Known as the 'Grand Canyon of Europe', there are few sights in France more spectacular than the Verdon Gorge. Located in the Alpes de Haute Provence, this 25 km long canyon has formed the piéce de resistance of the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon since 1997.

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Have-to-see-it-to-believe-it turquoise waters and 700m high sheer limestone cliffs, plus some of the best white-water rafting in France mean that this spectacular spot is a huge draw for adventure lovers and photo-fiends alike.

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Of course, you'd be crazy not to spend some time lazing in the sublime water, but don't forget that some of the best views are from the top - so it's time to take to the road! There are several routes, depending upon your driving skill, starting point and distance you want to travel, with the 'route de la Corniche Sublime' being perhaps the most beautiful.

 

Provence's Lavender Fields

If you're an Instagram user, you've probably seen photos of a sea of purple popping up in you feed for quite some time. And whilst there are lavender fields dotted all over the world, the most favourite by far are based right here, in France. Or Provence to be precise.

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Between July and August, the fields in the Luberon region are bursting with blooming lavender, but if you want the iconic photo, head to Senanque Abbey, near Gordes. Just make sure you come early in the morning when the light hits just right, and you're not battling for a shot amongst a throng of other snap-happy tourists!

For real lavender-lovers, don't miss the annual festivals in Sault and Valreas, both held in August.

 

Loire Valley

Outside of Paris, France is a country filled with rolling hills, spectacular countryside and - perhaps most iconic of all - beautiful chateaus. But if you want to see the best, you simply have to head to the Loire Valley, also known as the 'Garden of France'. Fairytale castles sit amongst watercolour backdrops - it's easy to see why the entire area is a UNESCO site.

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With more than 40 stunning chateaus in the Loire Valley, even the most die-hard castle hunters would be hard-pressed to visit all of them in a short trip. Of course, you're welcome to try, but if you're only in the region for a couple of days, we've got a few that you absolutely can't miss...

Don't miss: Château Chenonceau, Château Chambord, Château Chaumont, Château d'Azay-le-Rideau or Château d'Ussé. All are located within a few kilometres of each other, so even if you haven't got a car, on a beautiful summer's day, it would be a wonderful bike ride!

 

Champagne

There are few alcoholic drinks in this world more iconic that a glass of champagne. So if you're the bubbly sort, you'd be crazy to come all the way to France and not visit the home of the world's finest Champagne - especially when it's only an hour outside of Paris!

For a truly magical experience, enjoy a four-course sunset champagne dinner in the beautiful gardens of Château Les Aulnois. Built in 1778, this grand palace has been restored to its former glory by champagne heiress Elizabeth Vollereaux - and each course is paired with a glass of the family's champagne.

For those on a tighter budget, consider a trip to the champagne caves. Built below the vineyards, these subterranean spaces keep a constant temperature of 12 degrees and remain a hugely important step in the champagne-making process. Most houses offer tours of these caves, and provide an insight into the history of the Champenois, and perhaps, most importantly, a tasting. 


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Home to amazing Paris, the rest of France is often overlooked - here are eight other beautiful places that you should visit!
Home to amazing Paris, the rest of France is often overlooked - here are eight other beautiful places that you should visit!
Home to amazing Paris, the rest of France is often overlooked - here are eight other beautiful places that you should visit!

This post was produced in association with Luxury Retreats. All opinions, as always, are our own.