Bonnes Vacances: 5 Fairytale-Like Towns In France You Won’t Believe Exists
France, more than twice the size of the UK, has a lot to offer – from royal castles, flower-lined canals, mediaeval fortresses, and pristine villages to charming hilltops. People all over the world see France as a holiday destination. But have you ever imagined where the locals go for holidays?
The country is famous for gastronomy, slow travel and sustainable tourism. So if you looking for a holiday to unwind, sip your way through Bordeau and eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, you have come to the right place.
Here are lesser-known spots that you must add to your France itinerary:
Dive into nature’s finest at Bonifacio in Corsica. The panoramic views encompass Corsica’s coastline, the vast Tyrrhenian Sea, and the neighbouring Sardinia.
Beyond the breathtaking vistas, the place also has the Vieille Ville within a 9th-century citadel. You can take the charming tourist train to travel.
Brasseries, cafés, and bars spill onto pavements, while craft shops and boutiques showcase colourful wares. If you love history and architecture, then this is the perfect place for you. It has churches, chapels, and palazzi. A visit to the citadel is a must, as is descending (and ascending!) the Escalier du Roi d’Aragon, a staircase carved into the southern cliff face leading to the sea below.
A visit to Bonifacio is essential for anyone exploring southern Corsica. To truly grasp the town’s uniqueness.
In the southern tip of Corsica, the city of Bonifacio perches on white limestone cliffs. Named after the victorious Boniface II of Tuscany, the city is divided into two parts. The Port welcomes all transportation with its marina, ferry terminals, and waterfront establishments. The Citadel or “Haute Ville” reveals an old town filled with alleyways, restaurants, museums, and historic sites. A short distance away is a lighthouse and the iconic Gouvernail rock.
Briançon claims the title of the highest city in France. Nestled in the Hautes-Alpes, it holds UNESCO World Heritage status for its Vauban-listed fortifications. The 18th-century parish church, with its symmetrical towers, stands as a landmark. The town serves as a gateway for ski enthusiasts. Its strategic location, bordered by Italy and Provence, makes it a unique destination. One can do other activities too such as hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, paragliding, canoeing, and rafting.
During your mountain stay, explore nearby destinations like Le Monêtier-les-Bains, Saint-Chaffrey, Montgenèvre, and the Queyras Regional Nature Park
Èze, Côte d’Azur
Perched high above the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Eze is a medieval jewel nestled between Monaco and Nice. the scenic town has views of the French Riviera, known as Cote d’Azur.
Eze’s allure extends beyond its panoramic landscapes to its rich history, evident in the medieval architecture that reflects its fortified past. From the oldest building, Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, dating back to the 1300s, to the charming hotels, medieval-style shops, and galleries, every corner exudes the village’s unique character.
Eze also has a sensory delight, with lush greenery, including cacti growing along the walls. For botany enthusiasts, the Exotic Garden (Le Jardin exotique d’Eze) offers a diverse collection of exotic cacti and botanical wonders.
Amidst this picturesque setting, culinary enthusiasts can indulge in a two-starred Michelin experience at La Chèvre d’Or, helmed by chef Arnaud Faye.
Bayeux has a rich tapestry of history. It hosts the world-famous UNESCO-listed tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Swiftly liberated by the Allies in June 1944, the city preserves the memory of sacrifices through its war museum and British cemetery.
Crowned by a magnificent copper-clad tower, Bayeux Cathedral stands as a remarkable religious building, blending Romanesque and Gothic styles with exceptional details. The Musée Baron Gérard showcases regional history and art and the Conservatoire de la Dentelle is dedicated to preserving lace-making traditions. The Bayeux War Cemetery and Memorial, the largest British and Commonwealth cemetery in Normandy, pays tribute to soldiers from various nations.
For a peaceful escape, the Botanical Garden, designed by renowned landscape gardener Eugène Bühler, boasts a magnificent weeping beech and is considered one of France’s most remarkable green spaces.
The Le P’tit Train offers a leisurely journey through Bayeux’s historic centre from April to September.
Located about six hours south of Paris, Conques has roots that date back to 1000 AD. Known for its colour, the town has half-timbered buildings coloured in blue-grey shale, ochre limestone, roses, and wisteria built by Roman Art builders. Notable landmarks include the renowned Sainte-Foy Abbey and the Pilgrim’s Bridge over the Dourdou. These are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
A pivotal hub on the Santiago de Compostela routes, Conques holds the esteemed title of being one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” in the Aveyron region. Delve into the heart of Conques’ thousand-year-old soul by visiting the Sainte-Foy Abbey. Constructed in the 11th century upon the foundations of a former hermitage, the abbey is renowned for housing the relics of Sainte-Foy, a revered Christian martyr from Agen.
Don’t forget to dine at Michelin-starred La Table d’Hervé Busset.
Conques is truly a haven for those seeking gastronomical, historical and tranquil experiences.
Fulfil your dreams of conquering majestic mountains in Chamonix, nestled in the heart of the Haute-Savoie. Ski at the iconic Aiguille du Midi and five other ski stations set against the backdrop of the Mont Blanc. Recognized as a luxurious destination, Chamonix has hosted a plethora of famous visitors, drawn by its unparalleled beauty and recreational opportunities.
A network of cable cars provides access to several nearby summits, ensuring visitors can immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring beauty of the region. You can also visit Pointe Helbronner, situated across expansive glacier fields on the Italian border.