Planning a trip to France?
Let me help you!
This page contains a lot of information that I glean when I spend some time in France
as well as some very comprehensive information provided by
Offices du Tourisme
Are you planning a trip to France?
Are you moving to France?
Do you know where you are going? Alsace? Burgundy? Provence? Or maybe Brittany or Normandy?
Do you prefer the mountains, the ocean, or the countryside?
Your answer may be, “I don’t know. I just don’t know where to start. Tell me, what are the best places to visit in France? What are the best tourist attractions in France?”
And my answer will be … It all depends!
But first things first. The main question is: ARE YOU TOTALLY PREPARED FOR THIS TRIP?
You may think that you do not need to be prepared. After all, improvisation and spontaneity make traveling fun. Whether your trip is well planned and organized, or each day will be improvised spontaneously, you MUST speak a few words of French, and you MUST understand the basic French culture.
THEN you will enjoy the country, the people, the lifestyle.
You will bring the very best out of your hosts at the “gite”
or “chambre d’hôtes”and you will avoid lots of faux pas!
What are your points of interest in France?
History? Roman history? Moorish history? Queens and kings?
The Renaissance era?
Do you want to go to chateaux? Do you want to visit museums?
Is it a family vacation?
How old are your children?
Do you like winter sports?
Do you prefer hiking or horseback riding?
Is it a wine tasting trip? a golf trip? a painting trip? a culinary trip?
Do you want to stay at a farm, a gite, a hotel, a bed & breakfast, or a magnificent French chateau?
Do you like small, authentic medieval villages?
Would you rather be in the midst of the action in the big city?
Photos by Coco
STARTING WITH... PARIS!
Paris… What can I say about Paris that has not been said? Paris is not just about the monuments, the museums, the history, the concert halls, the fashion, the shops, the restaurants, the wine bars, ... Paris has a unique energy that you cannot quite describe or characterize, and that is because Paris has everything for everyone. Whatever your interests, whatever your preferences, whether you want your day to be quiet or intense… Oh? You just want to walk and do nothing else? Well, you can choose to walk miles and miles along the Seine river, or take Rue Lepic and off to Montmartre, or stroll up and down the Champs Elysées, or dilly dally in the Luxembourg Gardens, sit on a bench, and relax. So many choices… equally good, equally exciting.
Below is a selection of books that I recommend for your next trip to Paris:
HUNGRY FOR PARIS
BRIGHT LIGHTS PARIS
AUTHENTIC BISTROS OF PARIS
"Made in PARIS" Coco's Picks:
Photos by Coco
THE ALPS AND PROVENCE
From rafting in the very scenic gorges of the Verdon to following Route Napoleon… All worth the thrill!!!
Beyond the fields of lavender, discover Valensole and the exquisite, fortified city of Sisteron, and immerse yourself in the true “South of France” lifestyle in Forcalquier sipping a fresh mint lemonade in the shade of an imposing linden tree on the patio of an authentic French café. There is so much to do for the whole family in the Alps of Haute-Provence. You cannot run out of places to go, to see, to enjoy. Life is good there! The climate is perfect!! The people are delightful!!!
For information in English, please follow this link: http://www.tourism-alps-provence.com/
Just a 60 miles south of Grenoble is the beautiful town of Gap and its many surrounding villages. An old fortified town, Gap will surprise you with its narrow, entangled streets, its cathedral, its fountains. Drive a couple of miles and you are in the green pastures of the Alps mountains, enjoying the breathtaking views, the serene lakes… so perfect that you will want to take a stroll, a hike, a drive. Each village has its own character and is worth the detour. The food is delicious. The people are charming! A must-see.
Truly one of the most beautiful villages in France! Incredible! Sensational!
Located in the natural park of the Verdon in the South of France, Moustiers Ste Marie offers more than you can imagine. Its ramparts, chapels, fountains, old stone houses everywhere, its beautiful restaurants and shops, its hike up to the chapel perched up in the cliff, its old traditions in ceramics… and all this is surrounded by the gorgeous and picturesque Alps mountains. Breathtaking indeed.
Photos by Coco
Rather central, Auvergne is a beautiful area in France with a lot of sunshine and a remarkable heritage.
Issoire in Auvergne is called “the land of art and history”. It is 20 miles only to Clermont Ferrand, the capital of Auvergne, and is famous for its great hiking in the lower volcanic mountains of la Chaine des Puys. Great people, great food – and that includes great cheese! Quite rural and peaceful.
Nestled at 5,500 ft among the pine trees and the volcanic mountains of Auvergne, Le Lioran is rightfully famous for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Great shops offering regional products, great restaurants, great accommodations. Auvergne is perfect for a family vacation at any time of the year.
"Made in Auvergne" Coco's Picks:
Auvergne, famous for woodwork and cutlery
AUVERGNE – RHÔNE-ALPES
Villages, towns, châteaux, monuments, Roman-style churches, picturesque roads, fields of lavender and olive groves are so plentiful in the Drôme, it is impossible to see it all and, even less, to savor it all in one day! There are many itineraries and must-see historical sites for all, not to mention a myriad of great restaurants and farmhouse inns with superb local produce. The perfect place for a relaxing, yet exciting vacation.
From the “pastilles Vichy” (Vichy mints) to its thermal waters, Vichy was also put on the historical map during WWII when the French government was established there during the German Occupation.
Lovely city with museums, restaurants, and shops, Vichy is the capital of well-being, spas, nutrition and exercise. Leave the city and you quickly find yourself in the beautiful countryside, ready for a stroll or a serious hike around the surrounding lakes and up and down the slopes of the volcanic slopes.
Just a few miles from the Swiss border is the “Ain” district, with Bourg-en-Bresse as its capital. Very beautiful, charming part of France, still authentic, with genuine people. So much within reach without having to travel hardly any miles at all. Beautiful castles, thousand-year-old abbey, an old mill where they still manufacture hazelnut oil, exquisite and authentic villages, churches and chapels, monuments… etc. There is truly something for everyone!
As far as Bourg-en-Bresse, take the guided tour of this beautiful city rich in history; go to a concert, a festival. Immerse yourself in the culture, and that includes the royal monastery of Brou (a must see!)
As important is the “Bresse chicken”, the “king’s chicken”, a beautiful, white variety of chicken that is raised in the most old-fashioned way, with respect to the old tradition. The uniqueness of the “Bresse chicken” makes its worldwide reputation among the most critical chefs.
Lots of hiking, rock climbing, and many outdoors activities for the whole family around Bourg-en-Bresse!
If you find yourself between hiking and kayaking and you want to see some beautiful villages in the south of France, the Val de Ligne is a great place to start with. Totally off the beaten paths, away from the tourists, you can easily go from one medieval village to the other, and each and every one is unique and charming with surrounding orchards or fortifications with exceptional scenic views. You can really step back in time and enjoy the moment, the tranquility.
Photos by Coco
Photos by Coco
"LE BERRY" REGION, CENTRAL FRANCE
You may never have heard of George Sand, but I am sure you have heard of Chopin. George Sand was a nineteenth century French novelist in search of happiness. Her writings were mostly about women’s rights. One of her lovers was famous composer and pianist Chopin who spent much time at her house in the heart of France, now a museum that displays significant memorabilia of both artistic giants. This place is a beautiful celebration of the arts – mostly literature and music. The small roads winding around some quaint villages to get to the house are well worth the detour. Visit the house, enjoy the peaceful garden, admire Chopin’s piano, take a stroll.
Bourges has a very special place in my heart… most likely because it is my hometown, but there is more to it. Bourges is a beautiful town of approximately 65,000 people – Big enough to offer many attractions, but small enough to give you a sense of closeness, a sense of intimacy, in a very special way. Its majestic cathedral with beautiful adjacent gardens, its exquisite gothic style Palais (Palace) which was built by a very successful merchant in the 15th century by the name of Jacques Coeur, its medieval pedestrian downtown which takes you back to the Middle Ages, its marshland – totally surreal and serene – right in town, with beautiful private vegetable and flower gardens accessible by barks… Great museums, great shops, great restaurants, a famous yearly music festival (Le Printemps de Bourges), a superb light and sound show in the old downtown during the summer nights… It is endless! Don’t miss Bourges!