With a completely different climate from its northern shores to its southern beaches, featuring mountain ranges and vast stretches of sand to dazzling cities and cultural hubs, France really has it all. Whatever kind of person or explorer you are, you’ll be able to find your perfect spot in France.
Ardèche is located in southeast France and its scenery is considered some of the most beautiful in the country. There are dense forests, undulating hills and dramatic gorges all on your doorstep, making it an adventurer’s dream location. Pont d’Arc is one of the most iconic settings in the Ardèche, spanning the Ardèche River. Kayaking and hiking are favourite activities around this specific spot, while you’ll also find prehistoric caves, such as Aven d’Orgnac, to explore.
France and vineyards, vineyards and France… They go hand-in-hand and so it can get tricky deciding which French wine region to visit. Over the years, Bordeaux has become one of the most alluring cities in the country and this, coupled with its rich history of wine producing excellence, gives it a head-start. For wine tasting, there is Château de Pitray, a historic vineyard run by the same family for over 600 years. Château Pape Clément can beat that, though, having passed its 700th year of grape harvesting. Quite incredible.
France is a nation of hikers. This means there is no shortage whatsoever of fantastic hiking trails all across the country. A favourite is the GR51, or Balcony of the Côte d’Azur. Running from Menton to Marseille, this route combines everything hikers could ever want: views to die for, gorgeous villages to stop at for local dishes, and an almost year-round Mediterranean climate to match.
Lyon has long held the highest culinary title in France along with Paris. Even though there are some up-and-coming competing cities, Lyon still holds the crown for its gastronomy. Its famed covered market, Les Halles de Lyon, is a must-visit, even if you just browse the regional and local ingredients. It goes without saying that you should also enjoy a meal or two at the unique bouchon – bistros and restaurants typical to Lyon, historically family-owned and serving hearty food made with recipes that have been passed down through generations.
Nantes is like a city reborn. There has been a lot of effort made in the past 15 years to rejuvenate areas of the city centre, meaning it has become a genuinely exciting and relatively unknown culture hub to make a beeline for. There are fantastic museum and gallery spaces, but there is also the futuristic Machines de L’Île theme park – surely one of the most adventurous and creative projects to hit the scene in a while.
If you’re all about nature and live to explore the wild, then the mountain range of the Pyrenees is for you. It is a complete wonder for those wanting go off trail and explore nature at its best. Horses and sheep roam the undulating foothills and it’s so peaceful you’ll hear the sound of cow bells coming from miles away. Take a look at our top hiking trails in the Pyrenees to get you started.
Collioure in the South of France is a real treat for travellers who love to be on the beach. This beautiful town has its own sandy patches, so you can mix cultural mornings with hours and hours next to the Mediterranean. Collioure is under an hour away from the Spanish border, so not only do you have incredible mountain views from its beaches, but the Catalan influence on local cuisine is a major holiday bonus. The best of everything!
The whole of France is steeped in history. A good starting point – and a pretty big one at that – to immerse yourself in an area rich with history is Normandy, the D-Day landing beaches and cemeteries. In fact, the stretch of coastline of the D-Day Landings is once again vying for UNESCO World Heritage status, so strongly linked is it to the country and the world’s past and present. If you’re after a bigger town-base, stay in Caen, just 40 minutes by car from this historic site.
It would be easy to choose France’s dazzling capital for a pocket of France perfect for romantics, but in truth the Loire Valley clinches it. This is the area of France that served as an escape and oasis for French royalty, so it is easy to see how such magnificent castles came to punctuate the landscape. The Loire Valley has many attractions and gorgeous towns surrounding it, such as Saumur and Chinon that are both worth visiting.