There’s Much More To France Than Paris!
The whole world knows that Paris, as one of the major metropolises of this world, is awesome. But when you ask people around the globe what they consider to be French, it always comes back to Parisian lifestyle clichés and the City of Amour. That’s mostly about it when it comes to the world’s image of France.
As I lived and travelled in and through France for nearly a year, I can say with all certainty that this is not the case at all. France is so much more than “just Paris”!
FRANCE FOR BEGINNERS:
France is the largest member in the EU. It has three coasts in the north, west and south and a countryside with climates that couldn’t differ more. The English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea all surround this country. Cities, countryside, mountains, beaches, regions with nine-month bathing seasons, palm and olive trees in parks, as well as ski regions and huge sand dunes – all these elements make up France.
Surprised? I was too.
So, let me give you some insights and inspiration through listing my favourite bits of this country. Bits I visited and fell in love with.
LA BRETAGNE (Brittany):
Rennes is perfect for a weekend. Explore its little streets, boutiques and medieval architecture, and don’t miss Rennes’ beautiful Parc du Thabor, which, during the summer, frequently turns into the stage for many live open-air festivals and concerts! Rennes is known for its half-timbered houses and its weekly market that takes place every Saturday at Place de Lices. Oh, and when you’re there, make sure you eat a “Galette saucisse” from one of the many food huts. It’s a definite must that will highlight your love for this town!
Nantes is a pretty modern town with many cute restaurants and shops. My favourite places were the botanic garden, the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne and the exhibition/theme park les Machines de l’îles, where huge mechanic animals come to life!
Saint-Malo an absolute favourite of mine! I took four to five visits over nine months to Saint-Malo and I’m still not over it. Its Old Town consist of a town within walls and an old pirate stronghold, with an amazing long sandy beach, endless views and small islands in front of the bay, which you can visit when the tide is low.
If you’re a history lover and admire huge, Stone Age rocks (which somehow invite you to hug them) you should stop by Carnac. Carnac also has the typical French village atmosphere and a nice beach.
This peninsula at Brittany’s Atlantic coast is not far from Carnac and is a great place to visit. Here, you’ll find stunning beaches, huge cliffs and natural stone arches. There’s even a lively surfing scene, for those who want to ride some waves.
Côte du Granit Rose.
Visit Ploumanach and it will draw you into its spell! The rosé-coloured Granit Coast is just too beautiful and you’ll struggle to believe if it’s real!
LA NORMANDIE (Normandy):
Barneville-Carteret is a cute little coastal fishing community, with endless beaches and a countryside that wants to be discovered.
Omaha Beach seems at first just like every other beach, but this one has a background story that adds much more depth and importance. The Normandy is known for its connection to D-Day and the World War II, but if you really want to experience how it feels like to walk around where all this history happened, Omaha Beach is definitely worth a visit.
An abbey at the peak of a rocky island, surrounded by winding streets and medieval town architecture that gives you a certain magical feeling, as if you would wander the corridors of Hogwarts and the streets of Hogsmeade.
If you want to escape France for one day, why not take the ferry from Barneville to Jersey, which is an island right in front of the French coast, and spend a day in the good old UK?
Bordeaux is best known for its wine, but there is much more to discover about this city. The architecture is amazing thanks to its many churches and memorable buildings, places and bridges. It is just a blast to walk around the city center, strolling through all the little shops and cafés. Bordeaux is a place to feel very comfortable and at home.
I was pretty blown away to hear that the tallest sand dune in Europe is, out of all the possible countries, located in France. It is marvellous to climb up the dune and to see this spectacular view with the Atlantic coast on the one side and the large forest in the other. It felt like a little Sahara experience!
What I did the most during my time in Montpellier was exploring the cities surrounding it. If you want to visit cute little vinery chateaux, Montpellier has them all! It also has its very own Arc de Triumph!
Nice is not an unknown destination, but the only thing people see if they think about Nice is La Promenade des Anglais with all the chic luxury hotels. When I say Nice, I think about the sunsets, the sea, the colourful houses, the green in the city, the Mediterranean lifestyle, the art and the family run wine caves.
Last but not least, the city with the two rivers and an old town, Vieux Lyon that itself is already worth to spend a whole day exploring!
France in this case only serves as a popular example of where a country is reduced to one popular city. What I want to encourage every single one of you to do is that when you plan your next trip abroad and you really want to get to know and discover a country, don’t only consider the hot spots and big metropolitan areas as travel worthy; but also think about visiting other, maybe not-so-famous-on-Pinterest places.
I get that cities like London, Barcelona, Rome and Paris are a must, but after being done with all the sightseeing and shopping that the big city jungles provide, maybe consider a quick travel stop in some more ‘unknown’ destinations. That way, you can experience completely different sides of the culture, get to know other parts of the population, see the how much a country differs and discover some unique travel treasures.