Discovering a France far removed from the allure of Paris, the unmistakable charm of Nice, or Marseille’s historical wonders. The fresh, untouched countryside welcomes you!
When it comes to traveling, France is inadvertently at the top of most bucket lists. Paris, French Riviera, Marseille or Nice are premium go to destinations. They take in more tourists every year than most European countries. In the midst of global cities, the chaste, pristine beauty of France’s countryside often goes unmentioned.
Here are some destinations you can’t miss if you are planning to step into the Gaulish lands:
Let the magic unfold in the idiosyncratic French countryside.
Natives call Aveyron the ‘deepest of deep heartlands’. A statement that is proved right with the region’s quiet romantic beauty, and it’s relative obscurity in the realm of international travel. Rugged peaks, valleys hidden under chromatic foliage, and winding, endless pastures is what categorizes Aveyron as the characteristic French country. The reclusive, mindful air of this region is an appropriate epilogue to its history.
No tram or railway lines wind their way through the seamless greens. Reminding visitors of the same unsuspecting Middle Age Christian pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago route, stretching across Aveyron’s northern boundaries to Spain. Aveyron doesn’t disappoint when it comes to offering more sophisticated, modern pleasures. Michel Bras’s three Michelin-starred restaurants just outside Lagoile, or the iconic Rodez Museum in the heart of the Aveyron countryside, or the Millau Viaduct-tallest bridge in the world-cutting mercilessly across the Tarn Valley, urbanization has crept into the hillside, although it’s kept in check. Aveyron hides cozy hamlets in its round hills, cottages sneak up on trekkers at mountain corners, and small villages hold up amazing stories, only if you care to listen.
Visit the heart of French architecture.
Chartres stands just 60kms away from Paris’s periphery, but it’s more famous than many of the capital’s main attractions. A large, brooding Romanesque cathedral that looms over its cerulean blue sky, Notre Dame. A trip to France would be incomplete without a roundabout to Chartres, witnessing its historical magnificence. Notre Dame stands beautifully overlooking the Eure River. It’s a symbol of the greatest Gothic architecture of the 12th century.
Chartres is brimming over the top with historical architectural facades. A leisurely stroll along the region’s many avenues will lead to the discovery of wonders in the likes of the Saumon and the Vaûte House. The Festival of Lights, stretching from April to September every year, coats the locale in a magical golden halo. It covers everything in blinding light. It is then that Chartres can boast of an aura akin to immortality. While the Saint Nicholas hillock sits peacefully on its borders.
The perfect amalgamation of mountains and the raging ocean.
Brittany lies on France’s North-western end. With an unapologetically rugged, sharp, and invigorating topography. It’s the perfect place for adventure lovers. The region offers a mix of mountains and a view of the Atlantic, medieval towns and villages, and numerous towns dotted across its coastlines.
If you want a taste of France, but without its Parisian chic style, come to this Breton landscape to watch an amalgamation of fierce cultural independence, culinary history and tradition unfold into one holistic experience. Some literature readers know Saint-Malo from Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, some from its historical backgrounds. But the true beauty of the island unveils only with a climb atop it’s ramparts, sun-soaked, and witnesses to many wars and trials. The unbridled enthusiasm of Vannes, astounding Megaliths, Belle Île’s polished beaches, all beckon you to Brittany, and you can’t help but comply.
France’s historical center, with a heart of gold.
Normandy is a part of the French country that has remained a pivotal center of European history through centuries and there’s much to inspire awe in Normandy. Rouen’s Old Town is built upon layers of medieval and World War history, covered in cobblestones and timber. And the world’s oldest comic strip, Bayeux Tapestry depicts William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066. D-Day beaches dotted with cemeteries, memorial spots and historical pilgrimages. Caen with its mighty castles and ramparts, all function as an undeniable paradise to the history geek inside you.
Whether it’s the innocent gluttony of La Fleur de Sel or the marvellous hillocks and mountains of Èrtretat, Normandy has something for all of us, along with the patience urban France characteristically lacks.