france off the beaten path

5 Amazing Ideas for a Week-long Authentic Stay in France (Off the Beaten Path)

These are some of France's most beautiful areas, including Paris, and the Périgord, Auvergne, Bretagne, Camargue, and Provence regions. For each one, I've selected an exceptional accommodation based on my own and others' experiences, and must-do activities that will make your stay truly unforgettable - whichever one you end up choosing.

Experience the heart of France beyond the typical tourist spots. Wandering through medieval towns, trying out local cuisine, relaxing in a charming B&B... Each region has its own story and will give you memories that will last a lifetime.

1. Paris

Hôtel des Grands Boulevards is in the lively 2nd arrondissement, close to the Grands Boulevards and many iconic Parisian landmarks. This stylish boutique hotel has elegantly designed rooms and suites, a mix of contemporary comfort with classic Parisian charm.

Cool things to see and do:

  • The nearby Palais Garnier (Opera House), the Louvre Museum, and the historic Marais district.
  • The hotel's restaurant which has a refined menu of French and Italian-inspired dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Rooftop bar for cocktails with a view of the Parisian skyline.
  • The famous shopping districts like Rue Montorgueil for trendy boutiques and traditional markets, the nearby Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores.
  • The nearby Musée des Arts et Métiers or the Centre Pompidou, home to a vast collection of modern and contemporary art.
  • A show at one of the many nearby theaters, a concert at La Cigale, or a relaxed evening at a classic Parisian café.
  • A leisurely cruise along the Seine River to see the city's landmarks from a unique perspective, including Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower.

2. Région du Périgord

La Belle Demeure is located in the picturesque village of Saint-Cyprien, in the heart of the Périgord Noir. A charming bed & breakfast with cozy, elegantly decorated rooms with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Cool things to see and do:

  • The local market in Saint-Cyprien for fresh produce, cheeses, and other regional specialties.
  • A cooking class at the B&B, where you can learn to prepare traditional Périgord dishes like duck confit and walnut cake.
  • Wine-tasting sessions featuring local wines from the Périgord region.
  • A canoe trip down the Dordogne River, passing by beautiful castles and scenic landscapes.
  • A day in the nearby medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, known for its well-preserved architecture and vibrant Saturday market.
  • The famous Château de Beynac, Château de Castelnaud, and the prehistoric Grottes de Lascaux.

3. Région de l'Auvergne

Château de Codignat is located in the village of Bort-l'Étang, in the heart of the Auvergne region. This luxurious medieval castle offers elegant rooms and suites with antique furnishings for a historical experience.

Cool things to see and do:

  • Exquisite French cuisine at the château's restaurant focusing on local and seasonal ingredients.
  • The natural beauty of Auvergne with guided hikes in the nearby Livradois-Forez Regional Park famous for its volcanic landscapes and diverse flora and fauna.
  • A day at Vulcania, an interactive volcano theme park that offers educational and thrilling experiences about the region's volcanic heritage.
  • The château's wellness center with its heated outdoor pool.
  • A guided tour of the castle to learn about its medieval architecture and past inhabitants.
  • The nearby city of Clermont-Ferrand and its stunning Gothic cathedral and vibrant city center.

4. Région de la Camargue

Le Mas de la Fouque is located near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the heart of the Camargue region. This luxurious boutique hotel offers stylish rooms and suites, many with private terraces and views of the surrounding wetlands and wildlife.

Cool things to see and do:

  • A guided safari to explore the unique flora and fauna of the Camargue, including wild horses, flamingos, and other bird species.
  • The region's iconic white horses with a horseback riding tour through the wetlands and along the beach.
  • Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a charming coastal town, known for its beautiful church, lively markets, and annual gypsy pilgrimage.
  • A boat tour along the Rhone River delta to see the Camargue's natural landscapes from the water.
  • Gourmet meals at the hotel's restaurant specialized in traditional Provençal cuisine.
  • The hotel's wellness center with its heated outdoor pool and sauna.

5. Région de la Bretagne

Hôtel Le Castel Beau Site is located in Ploumanac'h, on the Pink Granite Coast in northern Brittany. This elegant beachfront hotel offers modern rooms and suites with stunning sea views and direct access to the beach.

Cool things to see and do:

  • The famous Sentier des Douaniers (Customs Officers' Path), a scenic coastal trail offering breathtaking views of the pink granite rock formations and the sea.
  • The nearby town of Perros-Guirec with its beautiful beaches, charming harbor, and vibrant markets.
  • A boat trip to the Sept-Îles archipelago, a nature reserve home to a variety of seabirds, including puffins.
  • Fine dining at the hotel's restaurant - great Breton cuisine with fresh local seafood.
  • The hotel's thalassotherapy spa - treatments using seawater and marine products, outdoor hot tub with sea views.
  • Nearby historic sites: the medieval Château de la Roche-Jagu and the charming town of Tréguier with its beautiful cathedral.

6. Région de la Provence

Domaine de Manville is located near Les Baux-de-Provence, in the heart of the Alpilles region. This luxurious estate offers elegant rooms and suites and private villas surrounded by picturesque olive groves and vineyards.

Cool things to see and do:

  • Provençal cuisine at the estate's fine dining restaurant.
  • Wine tasting sessions featuring local wines from the Provence region, and visits to nearby vineyards and wineries.
  • The nearby medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence with its stunning castle ruins and charming streets filled with artisan shops and cafes.
  • The estate's luxurious spa - indoor pool, and hammam.
  • Golfing on the estate's private course, hiking and cycling through the beautiful Provençal countryside.
  • Cultural sites: the Carrières de Lumières, an impressive art venue in a former quarry, the historic city of Arles, famous for its Roman ruins and connections to Vincent van Gogh.

Final words

Now, it's your turn to explore. Let France surprise you with its hidden gems and create memories you'll never forget. And remember to practice your spoken French!

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