Places to go in France that aren’t Paris

I love Paris.

Like, I love it.

But it’s not the only place that exists in France. And to the average American, it can surely seem that way. So if you’re ready to skip the trip to the dazzling (and overpriced) City of Lights, keep reading.

France’s Regions

Metropolitan France has 13 regions, which can be overwhelming for even an experienced traveler. But let’s break down the regions based on taste. Because where you go has a lot to do with what exactly you want to see. **Disclaimer: I have not yet visited all 13 regions, but I have been to five of them!** Here’s a small overview of where I have been, and what I enjoyed about it.

Provence

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

When to go: Late spring/early summer
Cities to visit: Nice, Cassis, Toulon, Marseille (Or hop over to Monaco…)
What to do: Provence is full of gorgeous sights, smells and sounds! It is probably France’s most iconic region, known for the Cote d’Azur and the lavender fields of Aix-en-Provence. There are parfumeries, boulangeries, patisseries (and rosé) as far as the eye can see. The South of France is a gorgeous area, so it’s no wonder it is internationally recognized. The Cannes Film Festival takes place every year in May, kicking off the summer season. (I would totally recommend this area to all the Diva travelers out there.) Travel tip: The beaches are rocks, not sand.

**I made a video of my trip to Provence when I went in 2017. Feel free to check it out here.**

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Le lac d’Annecy taken by me in 2017

When to go: Fall/Winter
Cities to visit: Lyon, Annecy, Grenoble, Chamonix (or hop over to Geneva…)
What to do: Skiers and snowboarders will love this region during peak season. The Haute-Savoie specifically is filled with magical slopes and gorgeous, movie-like ski resort towns. Grenoble is an amazing university town with a fun, hip vibe. Lyon is known as the “little Paris.” (Not to mention all the amazing Christmas markets!) If you’re looking for adventure and sport, skip out on the South and hit up this region! Travel tip: Fly into Geneva, Switzerland instead. You can take a train from there.

Grand Est

Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg taken by me in 2016

When to go: Winter
Cities to visit: Strasbourg, Colmar, Riquewihr
What to do: This region is perfect for any history buff. It has been the subject of much debate between Germany and France for centuries (and even as recent as WWII!). From the medieval Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg to the famous Christmas market of Strasbourg, many of the cities in this region resemble German architecture and some cities even have German names. There is also a Nazi internment camp I was able to visit during my tour of the region, which was a very somber and humbling experience. Travel tip: Some of the things are very spread out/in small towns and therefore are not accessible by major transportation lines. Look into shuttles and buses and group tours if you’re planning to visit.

Normandy

The Bayeux Tapestry taken by me in 2017

When to go: Depends, really. Summer is the tourist season where you can find plenty of Parisians sunbathing on the beaches. Winter has a certain charm if you adore the London-like weather (aka rain every day).
Cities to visit: Colleville-sur-Mer, Bayeux, Rouen, Caen, Deauville, Pointe du Hoc, Beuvron-en-Auge
What to do: Normandy is also a history buff’s dream. Packed with stories from William the Conqueror to the D-Day invasions, you will never run out of things to learn about. There is also a variety of scenery in this region. You have the beach, you have the countryside, you have the city. You kind of… have it all, dare I say? I am honored to say I have found a home in this little corner of the world.

What would you like to see next in my travel series? Comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for all my latest posts!

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