Paris truly is a magical place. Crepe vendors line the streets that tell a million stories. My grandfather lived in Paris for more than two years and he still maintains that he hasn’t been there long enough. To imagine that the rich culture of France can be fully experienced in Paris is to discount the depth and breadth of the country’s majesty. For those thirsting for adventure beyond the capital, here are five amazing places to consider:
Les Gorges du Verdon
Southern France arguably hosts the most beautiful gorge in all of Europe. Les Gorges du Verdon is a breath-taking area with a million opportunities to enjoy the vast spread of the gorge. In the morning, you can fly with the vultures that feed there using the paragliding adventures offered. Afterwards, the emerald River Verdon waits for you to combat the warmth of the sun on carefully guided kayaking, canoeing, and rafting. They even have canyoning as another way to explore the gorges! After getting dried off, you can choose from a plethora of peaks that can give you an expansive view of the gorge from up top. If you are looking for a day trip, you can take an electric bike ride along La Route Des Cretes. For any adventurer, this is a must-do.
This is an incredibly beautiful place in Normandy (Northern France) with white chalk cliffs and magnificent arches. Reportedly called a photographer’s dream, there are so many cool places to enjoy! Adventurers need to watch out for the tide when exploring because it will rise very quickly. When the tide is low, you can explore the rocky caves and inlets that have been softened by the waves and even find a couple ruins from WWII in the beach! There are a couple bomb shelters and cinder blocks that survived the war. If you want a view from above, there is an easy hike to the top of the cliffs, just be careful because the winds can be pretty strong!
This is the second largest city in all of France, so you can still get the big city experience without going to Paris! Amble along walkways that have been there for centuries and learn about the history in Le Quartier du Panier (The Basket Quarter). The Greeks occupied it for a long time, and once the Romans took over, it became a place of thieves and prostitutes. During WWII, the Nazis cleared the place out and deported about 30,000 residents here. Today, Le Quartier du Panier has many murals and art lining its streets, making for an almost otherworldly experience. If you make it through the maze of streets to the top of the hill, you can see the Notre Dame Basillica and enjoy the view from this pinnacle point. This colorful city is well worth enjoying on a trip to France.
Get a good idea of how the rich people live as you admire the yachts and five star hotels (built by our very own Gustave Eiffel!) that line the Cote d’Azure as you enjoy the sun on the beach! Explore as many colorful cities as you’d like! Also, along the Via Aurelia (a road constructed by the ancient Romans) sits the Trophy of the Alps. It was erected by the Senate and the People to honor the Emperor, Caesar Augustus. Because the Riviera lines the coast, there are endless stories that date back to ancient days of different nations and empires using the ports for trade. History buffs can learn the stories, beach bums can enjoy the Mediterranean, and adventurers can find hikes or odd shops anywhere.
A medieval city in the midst of the Alsace region of France, Strasbourg looks like it could be the town from which Hansel and Gretel hail. But wait, isn’t Hansel and Gretel a German story? I thought we were talking about France! The special thing about Strasbourg is that it has been owned by France and then Germany and then France again and then Germany again and now France. So it has a mix of cultures that is very fun to observe. I would definitely recommend coming here.
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