6 Overlooked Gems in the Globe's Most Popular Tourist Destination

6 Overlooked Gems in the Globe's Most Popular Tourist Destination

Underrated & Overlooked Locations 2024-06-06 ParkingNearAirports.io

When we think about vacationing in France, our minds often gravitate towards the captivating allure of Paris, the refined charm of the French Riviera, and the snow-covered peaks of Chamonix. However, there's so much more to discover beyond the renowned landmarks and well-worn trails. From historic fortresses to idyllic valleys and charming towns with Latin influences, there are numerous hidden treasures that deserve your exploration and a visit. So, let's not waste any more time and explore these gems together right now!

Visiting France? If so… Don't overlook these hidden gems!

1. Barcelonnette, Provence

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Set amidst the verdant mountain scenery at an elevation of 3,600 feet (1,100 meters), Barcelonnette resembles many charming towns in the southern French Alps. Locals can be seen relaxing at the cafes lining the narrow streets, while tourists in hiking gear pass by, eager to explore the trails of the Pra Loup alpine resort. However, in August, this Provencal town transforms into a vibrant celebration of Mexican traditions and Mariachi music. The reason for this unique cultural fusion lies in the 1800s, when local men and women traveled to Mexico in search of fortune in the textile trade. Some chose to stay, while many others returned, bringing with them the customs and festivities they had adopted during their time in Mexico.

2. Medieval towns, Languedoc

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The French countryside is renowned for its medieval towns, and Figeac, nestled in the Midi-Pyrénées region, is undoubtedly one of the finest. Much of the old town dates back to the 13th through 16th centuries, with some landmarks tracing their origins to the 9th century. Spending time strolling through the winding streets of Figeac is a delightful experience. The town is also rich in culture, as it was the birthplace of Jean-François Champollion, the pioneering scholar who first deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. After exploring the local farmers' markets and charming restaurants, you can venture to the nearby village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, another captivating medieval commune perched atop a cliff and boasting stunning historic buildings.

3. Grand Site des Deux Capes

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Explore the northern coast of France to discover its longest uninterrupted stretch of coastline. This region boasts countless bays and beaches flanked by dramatic cliffs, stretching from Calais to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Charming seaside villages like Audresselles, Wimereux, and Wissant are all worth a visit. When you need a break from the beach, you'll find wooded countryside and sprawling, cow-dotted pastures perfect for exploring by bike, car, or on foot. History enthusiasts should be on the lookout for the remains of World War II bunkers that were once part of Nazi Germany's Atlantic Wall defense system.

4. Loire Valley

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Eager to explore the medieval charm of central France? Rent a car or cycle through the breathtaking landscapes and discover a treasure trove of castles, cathedrals, palaces, and UNESCO-protected sites. This valley boasts over a dozen magnificent châteaux to behold, such as the stunning Château du Lude. Along the way, you'll also encounter picturesque vineyards, deer parks, lakes, and bird reserves. Start your journey in the fortified port city of Saint-Nazaire, then head inland, making stops in Anciens, Angers, Tours, and Orléans. Wine enthusiasts should mark their calendars for the Vitiloire festival in Tours, held every May.

5. Neuf-Brisach, Alsace

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Exploring the rich history of France would be incomplete without visiting one of its well-preserved citadels. If you have time for just one, make it Neuf-Brisach. This remarkable Vauban-designed fortress was constructed on the orders of King Louis XIV, and wandering through it today feels like a step back in time to the late 17th century. The modern difference is that the former military quarters now house delightful patisseries and charming taverns. Guided tours of the citadel are offered, and you can even enjoy a bird's-eye perspective of the impressive octagonal site from a helicopter ride.

6. Pays d'Auge, Normandy

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Embrace the laid-back charm and indulge in the abundance of calvados, cider, and cheese in the stunning region of Normandy. This area is as quintessentially French as can be, with a subtle touch of old English influence. Wander from one cider farm to another, uncovering the secrets and savoring the delights of this fruity beverage. Alternatively, dive straight into the region's renowned cheeses, such as camembert and Pont-l'Évêque. Spend your nights in charming half-timbered residences in villages like Beuvron-en-Auge and Blangy-le-Château. You can also immerse yourself in the horse-rearing heritage at the stud farms and racetracks of Calvados. And, of course, no visit to Normandy would be complete without strolling along the breathtaking coastline.

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In addition to our ultimate travel guide, we would also like to provide you with some more useful information on traveling, which will be handy for those who prefer doing this by air.

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Let's look at an example. Imagine that you live in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. If you're planning a trip to Figeac, France, you can choose cheap parking near SLC Airport. If you're coming from Montréal, Québec, Canada, the situation is the same – you can use affordable Montreal Airport long-term parking. So it depends just on where you are flying from.

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