Exit To France - The Complete Travel Guide

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Exit To France - The Complete Travel Guide

France is a country where almost all the influences of Europe intersect. Depending on the region you are, you will have this impression of being in another border country, whether it is Germany to the east, Belgium / Holland to the north, Spain or Italy to the south. Architecture gives that feeling, food gives that feeling, the accent or local expressions, too, give that feeling. Talking about landscape, France is full of visual treasures very different from each other. It's simple, there is EVERYTHING : deserts, beaches, cliffs, canyons, mountains and mountains with eternal snow, glaciers, caves, forests. Without counting the monuments with multiple architectures such as its large cathedrals, its castles, these Roman ruins, in short, the first nation in the world has something to surprise with its wealth. The hardest part is making choices, here are some unmissable things during a Tour De France. So let's go !

Paris - Versailles (1w) :
For more information of Paris and its surroundings, read our article just HERE

Strasbourg & Colmar (2d) :
Let's start with the East side of the country with Strasbourg, in Alsace, which delights with its district of la petite France and its typical Alsatian houses which for some date more than 1300 years, all located on a river which crosses the city. The imposing Notre-Dame de Strasbourg cathedral is obviously THE monument to see with its astronomical clock, which can be climbed on the roof for a panoramic view (5 €). Also pass by the Protestant Church of Saint Peter the Younger in which large frescoes are painted there. The terrace of the Vauban dam is located to the west of the city center and once you can see the covered bridges of the city. Finally, allow yourself a chill place Kleber with its bars and shops or on the banks of the Ill river to have a drink with the locals. Strasbourg is cool on sunny days but the atmosphere is really different during the celebrations at the end of year with its decorations and its world famous Christmas market. Colmar, 1 hour by train from there is a small town of the same type with a historic town center which is very village. Here as well, you will find these colorful houses with exposed beams, streams, and very traditional flowered streets.

Lille (2d) - Étretat (1d) - Deauville / Trouville (2d) - Mont-Saint-Michel / St Malo (1d) :
2 hours north of Paris, Lille is a young and dynamic city that it‘s pleasant to discover for a weekend. The Vieux Lille is the perfect district to see its typical red brick buildings as well as the Grand'Place and the various bars / restaurants and monuments that surrounds it such as the chamber of commerce and industry or the Gothic cathedral of Lille, very "dark" with its mystical allures. The citadel of Vauban and its park, a little further from the city center, offers a pleasant walk on the banks of the Deûle river and the Museum of Fine Arts is a huge complex which exhibits works from Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The cliffs of Etretat are a sublime spectacle and half a day is enough to appreciate its beach and its 2 viewpoints on each side. Whether it's selling, raining or sunny, the landscape remains poetic. Deauville and Trouville are 2 small towns which overlooks the English Channel and allow a first glimpse of the "beach" while strolling along the coast and discovering buildings constructed in a "Norman" style.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a fortified city on a rocky islet of the English Channel sheltering an immense abbey of the same name, all of this immersing us in a medieval atmosphere. Sometimes the rising waters make the place inaccessible but if the weather permits, go around the Mount to see it from different angles. You will need to leave your car in a parking lot, but a shuttle is available to get there. A MUST DO, from bottom to top, main axes, small alleys and the visit of the abbey ! MUST. DO. If you are in the area, make also a small detour to Saint-Malo, whose historic center is also fortified and overlooks a beach in which to take a dip ! For the fastest, one day may be enough to appreciate these last 2 destinations.

Nantes (2d) - Puy du Fou Park (1d) - Loire Castle (1 / 2d) - La Rochelle (1d) :
In Nantes the walk is easy and pleasant. Once it is not custom, I recommend following a green line on the ground which indicates the direction to follow to see the main places / monuments of the city, which avoids looking too much at its map ! The castle of the Dukes of Brittany is a major point as well as the Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, the Place Royale or the Place du Bouffay. This famous green line will make you drift along these major axes and small alleys as well as at the Pommeraye passage and its shopping gallery on 3 levels. The Ile de Nantes is the perfect place to chill on a sunny day to drink / eat there in the evening. The island's machines are a series of attractions or scrolling robots inspired by the world of Jules Vernes, himself born in Nantes. Carousel, mechanical elephant or huge crane carrying a terrestrial globe in the middle of this industrial and port setting, that adds curiosity to the visit. At the end of the day, think about having a drink at the top of the Nantes tower for a 360 ° view of the city.

The Puy du Fou Park is a few hours away by car and it is an opportunity to discover the best theme park in the world with many great shows retracing the great eras of French history somewhat revisited. Total immersion between animals, spectacular waterfalls and magnificent decor. Not so far, you can not miss the Castles of la Loire, knowing that tours are organized from Nantes and Paris. Treasures of the country all more beautiful than the others. Let's continue the descent by marking a stop at La Rochelle, whose city center and its port are covered in a long day. Take the opportunity to visit its 3 towers (Saint Nicolas, de la Chaine & de la Lanterne for € 8.50) which are the city's port guards overlooking the Atlantic and the famous Fort Boyard in the distance. In addition, this allows you to have a small access to the beach while strolling along the coast.

Bordeaux (2d) - Dune du Pilat (1d) - Biarritz (1d) :
Bordeaux has one of the most beautiful historic centers in France, very chic, with numerous bars and shops, cathedrals and churches as well as large, very photogenic squares. Take your route as you wish to discover Place de la Bourse, the Grand Théâtre, rue de la porte Dijeaux, Saint-André Cathedral in Bordeaux, Place Fernand Lafargue, Grosse Cloche, Porte de Bourgogne or even the reflecting pool on the banks of the Garonne. 50 minutes from Bordeaux by car, join the Dune du Pilat near the Arcachon Basin, the highest dune in Europe. Impressive nature that combines desert, ocean and forest here on the same postcard. Bluffing.

We touch a little bit the Basque country with the city of Biarritz and its surroundings. We come here mainly for its beach and its seaside and festive setting during the summer or during the holiday season. As for culture, as you stroll along the beach, you will come across the rock of the virgin which is accessed via a footbridge signed Eiffel and which gives views of the entire coast. The sea museum is an excellent aquarium to visit with more than 150 species of aquatic fauna and flora and during your tour, go through the two churches, one Orthodox built in 1892 for the Russians who came to spend holidays in the city and Sainte Eugénie (catholic) located on the heights of the city.

Toulouse (2d) - Montpellier (2d) - Nîmes & Pont du Gard (2d) :
In the pink city (Toulouse !) You will need 2 days to have a global vision of the city starting with the Capitol and its square surrounded by arcades with frescoes painted by Raymond Moretti and an Occitan cross on the ground, symbol of the region. Continue towards rue du Taur, its adjacent streets and the Carmelite chapel to reach the largest Romanesque monument in France, The Saint-Sernin basilica. South of the Capitol, pass by Place de la Trinité, then Saint-Etienne Cathedral to finish with the Musée des Augustins, a convent which has become the Museum of Fine Arts in Toulouse. For modern art, go to the slaughterhouse museum on the left bank across the Pont des Catalans and end your day at Place Saint-Pierre or even at Place de la Daurade on the quays of the Garonne.

The historic center of Montpellier is GREAT with many small medieval alleys. Place de la Comédie and the Opéra Comédie, the Promenade de Peyrou or the Faculty of Medicine are the main points to reach. However, don't forget to take a trip to La Panacée, a center for contemporary art, and take advantage of the coast at Palavas-les-flôts, La Grande Motte or Port Camargue overlooking the Mediterranean Sea !

A bit of time travel by visiting the arenas of Nîmes and the Pont du Gard (20 km) both dating from the Roman era as well as the Maison Carrée, a temple founded in the 1st century AD. Nîmes reveals other treasures such as the Roman Enclosure, the Castellum Aquae or the Jardins de la Fontaine, an ideal and relaxing stop.

Marseille & the calanques (4d) - Nice & Monaco (3d) - The Gorges du Verdon (2d) :
Let’s attack Marseille with a view of the whole city by joining this basilica which overlooks it in the distance, Notre-Dame-de-la-garde which can be reached on foot or by small train, bus or car. After visiting this wonder, head for the Vieux Port from which ferries leave for the islands of Friuli and If. At the entrance to the Port, there is the MUCEM (Museum of Civilizations in Europe and the Mediterranean), the Major Cathedral dating from the 19th century. Very close to here begins the charming district of Le Panier, which completely changes the scenery with its village looks, small shops, cafes and flower-filled squares. Stylish ! Take a day for the Calanques Park, Cassis or La Ciotat for ever more natural beauty on the Mediterranean coast.

Nice has an even more pronounced air of Italy with its colorful buildings and green shutters. Sweet atmosphere at the beach, on the Promenade des Anglais or in Vieux Nice, which you can easily cross, ice cream in hand, to reach the Castle hill which gives a view of the whole city. In the Cimiez district, you can visit the Cimiez park with its arenas, gardens and museums as well as a very beautiful Russian Orthodox cathedral. Even better if you are there during Carnival. From Nice you can go to Villefranche-sur-mer, a charming colorful village which also overlooks a beach as well as the Principality of Monaco. Here, the main places to see are Le Rocher with its houses dating from the 16th-18th centuries, the Monte-Carlo district and its Casino to see for its Belle Epoque architectural style, the Exotic Garden with more than 900 species of flora and the Observatory cave as well as the Prince's Palace, official residence of the prince since 1927 and which dominates the Mediterranean.

Go back and inland to the Gorges du Verdon, a true splendor of Provence with its cliffs, rivers and Sainte-Croix lake with turquoise blue waters. Several entry points here ! You can stop at the various local villages such as Rougon, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie or Aiguines and visit the surroundings either by mountain or by river by renting boats. AWE-SOME landscapes.

Avignon & Lavender fields (2d) - The Alps & Chamonix / Mont-Blanc (2-3d) - Lyon (2d) :
Let's go back up the hexagon, marking a stop in Avignon to, of course, see its Bridge as well as the Papal Palace, a huge building that was once the residence of the pontiff sovereigns. A Must DO visit. Then stroll through the Doms gardens and the Doms Cathedral in Avignon, complementary to the papal palace and of course, stroll through the historic center of the city to see more and possibly escape for a day for a visit to the fields of Lavender.

It's hard to make choices in the Alps, even worse in winter if you want to ski as the villages and the resorts are all as beautiful as each other with this snowy atmosphere and wooden chalets. The most famous are : Chamonix, where you can admire Mont-Blanc and the river of ice in the surrounding area. At the same time the Alpe d'Huez, the 2 Alps and the Val d'Isère are pretty cool too... From small family resorts to large holiday clubs for students, it's hard to make a choice and I therefore invites you to target your preferences according to your desires via more specific tourist sites. Google is your friend !

In the Lyon peninsula, you can visit the Museum of Fine Arts and walk as you wish through rue de la République, Place Bellecour and Place des Jacobins. Here many shops and cafes to take the temperature of the city. The Vieux Lyon is just as pretty with the Saint Jean district, the traboules and the cathedral. From here, a funicular takes you to the Fourvière Basilica, which you should not miss, as well as a view of Lyon to the left of it. You can continue the walk to the Lugdunum at the Parc des Hauteurs with its Gallo-Roman theater and museum. If you have more time, go chill near the Parc de la Tête d'Or for its botanical or zoological garden, then in the Croix Rousse, a bohemian district with a village atmosphere located on a hill north of the town or on the banks of the Rhône in the direction of Mulatière, where the Rhône and the Saône rivers meet, where you will see many bridges as well as the imposing Hôtel Dieu.

Outro :
Something is missing, did you just say ? And yes it is ! And it’s not easy to choose from the variety of cities, villages and natural settings that France offers. With so many coasts, beaches, mountains, vineyards (Champagne, Bordeaux, Provence…), castles (Carcassonne…) natural parks in the Massif Central or in the Vosges, mysticism with Lourdes in the Pyrenees, No one knows where to head with this country that has gone through so many stories inspired (or undergoing) by the influences of its neighboring countries. But as I told you in the intro, a trip to France is to feel elsewhere in each region, both in space and in time. PUTAIN !

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