France is clearly a well-known country. But it’s surprising how the well-known parts are so well known, while there are plenty of nooks and crannies that don’t get the love they deserve. But travel bloggers know the inside scoop! So we’ve asked some of our favorite travel bloggers to share the places they’ve been to in France that were delightful discoveries for them. Which ones will you put on your next itinerary?

Annecy

Annecy best places to go in France

“Laced with narrow canals, flower-lined palisades, sidewalk cafés, and arcaded boutiques, Annecy’s old quarter looks picture perfect. The preserved, ship-like island prison, the wrought-iron balconies above the pavement, and the commanding Château d’Annecy seem almost Disneyfied in their perfection. But that appearance is only because of the pride the residents take in making sure their town is attractive to visitors and residents alike, a pride which seeps into pleasant, warm interactions that feel downright quaint when held against Parisian aloofness: Anneciens are glad you’re here. ” – Ernest White II

Saint Remy de Provence

“Sixteen years on, my love for the village grows deeper every year. You’ll want to visit the clinic where Van Gogh spent a year and painted 150 canvasses, then go next door to explore the 2000-year-old excavated ruins called Glanum, one of the finest archaeological sites in the South of France. And don’t miss our Wednesday morning market, one of the biggest and best in the region. But before you leave St. Remy, do this: drive up the winding Ave. Antoine de la Salle into the foothills of the Alpilles Mountains, where you’ll find the Glanum Dam and Lac des Peireòu (or Peirou). It’s a sparkling blue  reservoir backed up behind a dam originally built by the Romans to supply water to Glanum below.  It’s one of the prettiest, most peaceful sites around and definitely my favorite place in my favorite village in all of France.” – Julie Mautner 

Paris

View on Paris form Notre Dame cathedral

“I should hate Paris because my (former) friend abandoned me there over twenty years ago at Valentine’s Day, but that experience made me who I am – a solo traveler with Paris in my soul. The city taught me to appreciate the vibrant street art, showed me kindness as I learned to dine alone in cafes, taught me patience when I didn’t know the language, and showed me how far a smile can go. Paris is one of my favorite cities to bring family/friends so I can see the city through their eyes.” Suzanne Wolko 

Arles

 

“A former Roman capital on the banks of the Rhône, Arles is a splendid place to meander narrow streets, explore modest museums, sample local fare at the Saturday market, or savor a cool glass of rosé. For a bit of excitement, it’s fun to take in a bullfight in the Roman amphitheater. (Much kinder than the Spanish sport, nimble young men try to pluck a cockade from between the bull’s horns.) This is a place that inspired the works of Mistral and Van Gogh – in fact, settings for some of Vincent’s best-loved paintings are found in and around town. Arles is also an ideal base from which to explore Provence, with Avignon, Saint-Remy and the hill towns of the Luberon nearby.” – Jeff Dobbins 

Montpellier

Montpellier

“I’ve called Montpellier, in the Languedoc region (soon to be renamed Occitanie), since 2006. The city center, called the Ecusson, is ancient and although small, has distinct neighborhoods (mine is St-Roch, which is packed with restaurants, bars, and shops). In the larger environs, reachable by trams designed by hometown hero Christian La Croix, there’s a fantastic architecture boom with something new to see nearly every month. Montpellier is just a few hours from Barcelona, Paris and Nice, and is a quick ride to Mediterranean beaches by bike share or tram. Come visit!” – Christine Cantera

Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont Saint Michel at dusk, France.

“There’s really nothing that can prepare you for driving up to Mont-Saint-Michel out of a winter fog so thick you can’t see the top of it when you’re standing at the base – not even after a solid 20 years of pining to get there, as I had done. Even when you know more or less what to expect, you’ll gasp. I did.

Mont-Saint-Michel is purposefully difficult to reach, as a centuries-old pilgrimage site (that looks like it could double as a Harry Potter set). The abbey dates from the 10th century and grows right out of the craggy rock up to the point of its graceful spire. A little collection of houses and shops winds its way down from the abbey to the water’s edge. There’s only one lane up and down, and there’s not really anything to “do.” And yet day trippers flood the tiny dot of an island year-round (it’s a UNESCO site, after all).” – Jessica Spiegel 

Port-Cros

 
“Port-Cros Island is a tiny speck off the south coast of France, and a world away from the region’s often-packed beaches and busy tourist towns. Found in a group of three, known as the Îles d’Hyères, the island is home to glorious beaches, serene seas, beach-side bungalows, and endless hiking trails. Access the island by ferry (one-hour ride from Hyères) and opt to stay for two or three days if you can. This way once the day-trippers leave, you’ll feel like you have the island to yourself. ” – Daisy Cropper

Beaulieu-Sur-Mer

French Riviera #nice #home #sky #sea #sunshine #heat #autumn #landscape #beautiful #love #walk #beach #ride

A photo posted by TRAVELS AND LANDSCAPES ✈ (@coraliemrtr) on

 
“This seaside community is in the heart of the French Riviera. There is also easy access to Provence via commuter train. I have spent many vacations in Beaulieu. As early as Sept 9, there are up to 50% discounts. Local lodging ranges from 5+ star elegant Relais et Chateaux and more economical options. Within walking distance is fabled Cap Ferrat (Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat) plus the Rothschild Villa and Gardens, which are open to the public. A drive, train ride or (costly) taxi ride away is Monaco’s beaches to casinos.” – Elizabeth Avery 

Avignon

The bridge in Avignon

Avignon has more to offer visitors than its famous bridge. Once you’ve learned the fascinating history of this landmark, and discovered the dancing was done under and not on it, you can pass several enthralling hours exploring the Pope’s Palace, where seven pontiffs resided from 1309 to 1377. A true gem is the market, where an eclectic array of shiny olives, fresh produce, locally made pâté, over 200 varieties of cheese, delectable prepared foods and more call your name from every display case. Yes, there’s more, but you’ll have to visit Provence in order to learn the rest of Avignon’s story.” – Penny Zibula 

Ainhoa

Taking the long road to college 🔀

A photo posted by Avery Pierce (@apierceofpie) on

 

“Located in the interior of the French Basque Country, the tiny village of Ainhoa is surprisingly charming. What I love most about Ainhoa is wandering along its main street, admiring the local architecture. The picture-perfect street is lined with white houses that are offset with exposed stone columns and windows that are adorned with bright red or green shutters. Green, lush scenery surrounds the quaint village and adds to the peaceful atmosphere. At the end of my walk, I enjoy stopping at one of the bars in the center of Ainhoa. In summer, it is lovely to sit on the terrace outside, overlooking the three most traditional elements of any Basque village: the church, the graveyard and the fronton.” – Patricia Palacios 

Lyon

night view from St Georges footbridge in Lyon city with Fourviere cathedral, France

“Very few places in France encapsulates its entire spectrum of history in one cityscape stroke – with Roman theatres, medieval churches, Renaissance squares and some pretty funky-looking postmodern architecture, Lyon is certainly one of them. What makes the city extraordinary are its past stories and achievements of individuals that Lyon celebrates the most: traboules formerly a labyrinthine network of back alleys used by silk manufacturers, are nowadays one of its quirkiest and most popular attractions, while the Lyon industrial era’s most surprising invention, cinema, is commemorated in the Institut & Musée Lumière along with its inventors, the Lumière brothers. It’s also no understatement that Lyon holds and deserves the title of France’s gastronomic capital; from its numerous Michelin-grade restaurants to rustic bouchons, it’s where you can sample the French cuisine the most faithful to Lyon’s regional identity and produce. And if you’re a wine lover, given Lyon’s central position in the Rhône-Alpes region means it shouldn’t need further introduction. Or persuasion.” – Dylan Lowe 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

 

“One of my favorite places in France is the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.  Located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region, it sits at the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon also know as the Grand Canyon of France.  The cliffside village is bursting with colorful shops filled with lavender, olives and ceramics.  While charming restaurants and quaint cafés draw you through their doors.. No visit to the Provence region is complete without a stop at this lovely village.” – Dana Zeliff 

Le Mans

 

Le Mans, about an hour and a half by car southwest of Paris, in the northern part of the Loire Valley, is home to the most prestigious endurance car race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Held in mid-June each year, cars race on a track that is partially permanent and partially runs on city streets. Well over one hundred thousand spectators converge on Le Mans and the surrounding towns to take in the week-long festivities and events surrounding the race. The city itself boasts some well-preserved medieval streets and a stunning gothic cathedral. And the Loire Valley and its castles are nearby for further exploration.” – Kiera Reilly 

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Christine Cantera

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