8 Underrated Destinations to Visit in France


Bonne fête du Quatorze Juillet!

In other words, Happy Bastille Day also known as France’s National Day. Here is our chance to visit some of the country’s most underrated destinations. There is more to the Hexagon than Paris and its tourist traps.

Lyon

The third largest city in France is the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region. In Lyon, each district offers unique appeals, from historic landmarks to gastronomic delicacies and nightlife treasures. See the astronomical clock of the St Jean Cathedral, and the unique Renaissance architecture of the Vieux Lyon. Visit in early December to witness the Festival of Lights. It is the locals’ celebration of Mother Mary.

France - Lyon
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Chavaniac

All Americans should visit the Chateau de Chavaniac in the heart of the province of Auvergne (east central France).

Why? Because it is the birthplace of Lafayette, an American Revolutionary War Hero. Also because its mountains and rivers are perfect for outdoors activities: rafting, hiking, bird sighting, and much more.

France - chavaniac
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Côte d’Opale

Seafood restaurants, sandy beaches and the charming hospitality of the North. The French North Coast is a well-kept secret among the French and British, who raid it by millions ever year. This gorgeous coastline stretches 26 miles from Calais to Boulogne-Sur-Mer. Visit these anglers’ towns if you can!

France - Cote d'opale
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Troyes

Unlike Reims and its illustrious cathedral, Troyes is the less known capital of the Champagne region. Yet, this picturesque medieval town should be world-famous as France’s outlet and discount capital. Head southeast from Paris to Troyes and then North to the McArthurGlen and Marques City Shopping centers. Stack up on discounted big brand articles like Naf Naf, Burberry, Kenzo, Lacoste and much more. You would not believe the bargains you will find, and neither will your friends when you tell them. Champagne, anyone?

France - Troyes
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Serre Chevalier Valley

Are you planning a ski trip in the Alps? Then consider staying in the sunny ski resort of Serre Chevalier. This destination is beautiful and easily accessible from Turin and Grenoble. It offers over 150 miles of high-altitude slopes – perfect for snowboarding and skiing. And with almost year-long sunbaths and a proximity to local villages, you will not find a better hideout in the Alpine mountains.

France - Serre Chevalier
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Biarritz

This has it all – from skiing to the seaside resorts of Biarritz on the Spanish borders. Surfers and swimmers love this little piece of paradise lost in the heart of Basque country in France. Eat Bayonne Lamb, discover the Rock of the Virgin, lay on the beach, or check out a surf competition, it is all up to you. There are more things to do and see in Biarritz than you can do in one visit.

France - Biarritz
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Marseille

Marseille is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the second biggest in France. One of the biggest seaports in the Mediterranean, it is a melting pot for North African and South European cultures.

Marseille is proud of its multicultural identity as much as its soccer team and its rap music scene. Marseille symbolizes resistance against the powerful Paris, in sports, culture, and way of life. The local slow and easy life contrasts with the fast Parisian pace. Go to any restaurant and savor a bouillabaisse, the local food specialty.

Marseille also has a fantastic soccer heritage. Attend an Olympique de Marseille game in their mythical Velodrome Stadium. It is a tradition on weekends and a great way to appreciate residents’ legendary hospitality… given that they win, of course!

France - Marseille
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Nantes

“Most livable city in Europe”, hub for innovation, campus town -Nantes has many titles. It is to France what Newcastle is to England. The sixth biggest city of France is also the capital of the Pays de la Loire region, and regarded as an important metropolis of the Breton culture. The Venice of the West sits on the Loire River and visitors will fall in love with the amazing way of life of this old Roman port.

France - Nantes
photo credit: Objectif Nantes via Flickr cc

There is much more to France than Paris. Strasbourg, the French Rivera, and Bordeaux could have easily made the list as well among dozens of other great cities. In addition, attractions such as the Mont St Michel, the Rouen Cathedral, or the Mont Blanc are landmarks worth the detour.

Have you visited France? Where have you been, or would you recommend? Tell us all about it in the comment section.

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8 Underrated Destinations to Visit in France
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There is much more to France than Paris. Ditch the capital. Nantes, Marseille, and Lyon are alternatives that offer much more authentic French culture.
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