15 Amazing Places in France You Need to Visit (That Are Not Paris)

So, you’re planning out your France itinerary and it includes Paris.

Not sure where else to go?

Then you are in the right place.

France is one of the best places to visit for food, wine, hiking, history, and exploring beautiful country. This list of amazing places in France includes my favorite places that I have been to and a few towns that are still on my bucket list (in no particular order).

All of these places in France have incredible food, wine, and walking or hiking.

Get ready to add a few of these off the beaten path destinations to your France bucket list! Jump to the interactive map with these 15 destinations in France is at the bottom of the page.

Best Places in France to Visit Outside of Paris

1. Uzes

Uzes France

Uzes is a laid back market town in the Gard region of southern France. The storybook town is loaded with unique shops and restaurants that sprawl onto the sidewalks.

We would have been happy spending sitting at a cafe in the tree spotted main square, Place aux Herbes. But we would have missed out on medieval gardens, palaces, castles, and roman aqueducts.

The town ignites on Saturday mornings. Local food and goods purveyors setup throughout the square and streets for market day. It was one of the most lively European markets I have ever seen. On your way in or out of town, visit Pont du Gard. The arched Roman aqueduct spanning the River Gardon would be an architectural feat even today.

What to Eat: Fougasse

What to Drink: Wine from Languedoc-Roussillon

Where to Hike: Park at the small parking lot near La Begude Saint Pierre hotel and walk 30 minutes or so to Pont du Gard.

Where to Stay

Budget: In Situ

Splurge: Les Terrasses

2. Lourmarin

Lourmarin Provence France

Lourmarin is a picture perfect village in the heart of the Luberon mountains in Provence. We loved simply strolling through the cobblestone streets. There are interesting shops, restaurants, fountains, and architecture throughout the village.

The Château de Lourmarin sits at the entrance to the village. The castle has a great wine shop where we sampled Côte du Luberon wines made nearby.

As if you needed more, Lourmarin has one of the best markets in the region each Friday where local Provencal specialties can be purchased.

What to Eat: Gardiane d’Agneau (Lamb Stew)

What to Drink: Côte du Luberon wine

Where to Hike: Walk this hiking loop through the Luberon to the neighboring town of Cadenet.

Where to Stay

Budget: la chambre d’hôte

Splurge: Mas la Chêneraie

3. Cahors

Cahors France

Do you like Malbec or full bodied wine? Then you need to go to Cahors, the birthplace of the Malbec grape.

The wine produced near Cahors is so full bodied that the locals call it “black wine”. While you are there the La Villa Cahors Malbec information office is a great way to get introduced to the wine.

The town is made up of medieval buildings and structures. The Valentré bridge, built in the 14th century, is considered one of the best maintained medieval bridges in Europe.

If wine and medieval architecture weren’t enough, the famed Camino de Santiago hiking trail cuts through the middle of town.

What to Eat: Truffles and walnutes

What to Drink: Côte du Luberon wine

Where to Hike: The Camino de Santiago – Le Puy Camino route cuts through town.

Where to Stay

Budget: La Chantrerie

Splurge: Hangar de Bellevue

4. Cassis

Cassis France

Cassis is a charming small port town on the Mediterranean in the South of France. It is smaller and less traveled by tourists than other seaside towns on the Provencal coast.

With pastel colored buildings, pebbled beaches, and a bounty of eating options, Cassis is a great option for enjoying seaside life. Watching the sunset from the water while enjoying a delicious scoop of ice cream was unforgettable.

The town is the entrance to the Calanques. These are a series of beautiful, rocky cliffs and inlets. We worked off our ice cream and seafood by hiking through the Calanques (which are embedded in Calanques National Park). Seeing the cliffs for yourself is a must if you visit.

What to Eat: Salade Niçoise

What to Drink: Local Cassis white wine

Where to Hike: Calanques National Park

Where to Stay

Budget: Sure Hotel

Splurge: Hotel & Spa de La Plage

5. Beaune

Beaune France Streets

Beaune is considered the wine capital of the Burgundy region. Meaning, some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine in the world is produced there. Where there is great wine, there is also great food.

With just over 20,000 people, Beaune offers plenty of wine tastings and indulging in the regional cuisine. Cycling and hiking through the surrounding hills are my favorite way to tour vineyards and neighboring wine towns. Read more about hiking in Beaune here.

What to Eat: Beouf Bourguignon

What to Drink: Pinor Noir and Chardonnay wines from the region.

Where to Hike: Check out this hike through the vineyards of Burgundy

Where to Stay

Budget: Beaune Hotel

Splurge: Chez Les Fatien

6. Honfleur

Honfleur Normandy France

Honfleur is a medieval port town in Normandy that sits on the Seine river. The picturesque town is considered to be the birthplace of impressionist art.

The old harbor, or Vieux Bassin, is lined with restaurants, cafes, and galleries. The old town is lined with narrow, charming streets that are perfect for wandering. Saint Catherine’s Church, the largest timber built church in France, is also a sight to see.

What to Eat: Mussels

What to Drink: Calvados (apple brandy)

Where to Hike: Walk to the Notre Dame de Grace chapel perched on a hill overlooking Honfleur

Where to Stay

Budget: La Villa des Souhaits

Splurge: La Ferme Saint Simeon Spa

7. Tain-l’Hermitage/Tournon-sur-Rhone

Tain l'hermitage Tournon sur Rhone

The neighboring towns of Tain-l’Hermitge and Tournon-sur-Rhone are separated by the Rhone river. Fortunately, they are connected by a pedestrian bridge built by Marc Seguin, the inventor of the suspension bridge.

Syrah grapes grow on the surrounding hillsides. This is the center of the Northern Rhone wine region. We spent the day walking between wine tasting rooms located throughout Tain-l’Hermitage to taste some of the best Syrah wine in the world.

What to Eat: Chocolate at Valrhona’s Cite du Chocolat

What to Drink: The wines of Northern Rhone.

Where to Hike: Up the surrounding vineyard covered hills to the Hermit’s chapel.

Where to Stay

Budget: Casa mARTa

Splurge: Hôtel de la Villeon

8. Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion is a quaint wine town just outside of Bordeaux. The tiny village is perfect to explore on foot while sampling amazing food and wine from the surrounding area.

Grape growing and cultivation has been happening in Saint Emilion since the 11th century. It is believed to be the oldest wine making area in all of Bordeaux. Its history in wine production has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Climb up the town’s bell tower for a bird’s eye view of the town and surrounding vineyards before (or after) indulging in the regional delicacies.

What to Eat: Entrecôte à la Bordelaise (steak seared in red wine)

What to Drink: Local wine from Saint Emilion

Where to Hike: In the surrounding vineyards. Visit the Saint Emilion tourist office here for maps and guided tours, or take this free tour.

Where to Stay

Budget: Les Chambres d’Ovaline

Splurge: Logis de la Cadène

9. Roussillon

Roussillon France

Roussillon in Provence is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Pastel colored buildings, twisting streets, and artsy atmosphere are reasons this village in the Luberon stands out.

The town is famous for its red cliffs. It sits on one of the largest ochre (red clay) deposits on earth. There are trails through the surrounding countryside to experience these deposits up close.

What to Eat: Tapenade on a fresh baguette

What to Drink: Côtes du Ventoux

Where to Hike: Le Sentier des Ocres hike

Where to Stay

Budget: La Dame Au Balcon

Splurge (a little): Le Clos de la Glycine

10. Riquewihr

Riquewihr France


Riquewihr is a medieval village in Alsace in Northeastern France near the German border. The colorful, half-timbered buildings and medieval architecture provide a rustic feel to the village, named one of the most beautiful in France.

Surrounding the town are hills of grape vineyards. There are plenty of wine shops in town to sample the world class Alsace white wines that are produced nearby.

The town is along the Alsace wine route. Trails through the hills and vineyards connect neighboring towns along the route.

What to Eat: Quiche Lorraine

What to Drink: Alsace white wine (primarily Reisling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer)

Where to Hike: Walk one of these Alsace wine paths.

Where to Stay

Budget: Hôtel le Saint Nicolas

Splurge: Le B. Suites

11. Beaujolais

Beaujolais

The neighboring villages of the Beaujolais wine region are charming, relaxed, and wine focused. Less than an hour from Lyon, Beaujolais is less traveled to than other famous French wine regions. But, the wine produced from the Gamay grape is arguably just as delicious and interesting.

The town of Villié-Morgon is the unofficial origin of the natural wine movement. Domaine Marcel Lapierre is a pioneer and leader in natural wine practices. Saint-Amour-Bellevue, Julienas, and Fleurie are other nearby wine towns that produce world class red wine.

Mount Brouilly in Odenas offers an opportunity to see the landscape and be active outdoors. Several hiking circuits to the summit are open for exploration.

What to Eat: Local Charcuterie and cheeses

What to Drink: Beaujolais wine

Where to Hike: One of these Mount Brouilly circuits.

Where to Stay

Budget: Château de Bellevue B&B

Splurge (a little): Auberge Les Hauts De Chenas

12. Chinon

Chinon Loire France

Chinon is town along the Vienne river in the Loire Valley rich with history (and wine and food). Multiple kings have resided in the town Chateau (castle). Richard the Lionheart was born in Chinon and Joan of Arc visited often.

The winding streets are lined with restaurants, shops, and cafes to explore in between historical sightseeing. The town is a major wine producer within the Loire Valley. There are wine caves and shops throughout town to taste the local grapes, primarily Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.

What to Eat: Goat cheese

What to Drink: Chinon Wine

Where to Hike: Nearby in Candes-Saint-Martin, you can do this hike where the Loire and Vienne rivers meet.

Where to Stay

Budget: Hotel Agnès Sorel

Splurge (a little): Chambre d’hôtes Au Relais Saint Maurice

13. Gigondas

Gigondas France Rhone Hike

Gigondas in the Southern Rhone Valley is a beautiful village with twisting stone streets. It is known for its highly regarded red wine blends made primarily from the Grenache grape.

The village sits at the base of the Dentelles de Montmirail. These are the foothills of the highest peak in Provence, Mont Ventoux. There are over 600 trails and paths that lead up to the jagged limestone peaks that are available to explore.

Great wine, charming shops and restaurants, and hiking in the foothills? Yup, Gigondas is pretty great. We loved fueling up with lunch in the town square before catching a path out of town that led up to the jagged limestone peaks.

What to Eat: Local steak and potatoes

What to Drink: Gigondas red wine

Where to Hike: One of the trails to the Dentelles de Montmirail.

Where to Stay

Budget: Le Colombier

Splurge: Les Chambres de l’Oustalet

14. Vézelay

Vezelay Burgundy France

Vézelay is a hilltop town in the northern part of the Burgundy wine region. It is one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” or most beautiful villages of France.

The Basilica of Sainte-Madeleine sits at the highest point of the village. It is a highlight of Romanesque art and architecture within France. The site is along the Camino de Santiago trail and serves as the pilgrimage starting point.

The village produces primarily white wine from the Chardonnay grape.

What to Eat: Escargot

What to Drink: Vezelay white wine

Where to Hike: The Camino de Santiago – Vezelay Route begins in town.

Where to Stay

Budget: SY Les Glycines

Splurge (a little): The Good Studio Vezelay

15. Lagrasse

Lagrasse France

Lagrasse in southern France is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is filled with medieval architecture and narrow, cobbled streets. The foothills of the Pyrenees mountains surround the tiny village.

The Sainte-Marie D’Orbieu Abbey in the town dates back to the 8th century. The medieval building was started under Charlemagne and finished in the 14th century. An equally impressive bridge spans the Orbieu river that cuts through the tiny town.

Lagrasse is in the Corbières wine region which is part of the larger Languedoc-Roussillon region. The wines here are largely red blends with Grenache being the main grape.

What to Eat: Cassoulet

What to Drink: Corbières wine

Where to Hike: There are several trails through the surrounding foothills that you can find on this interactive map.

Where to Stay

Budget: Aux 1000 Délices

Splurge: Studio La Benaourio

Interactive Map View

Ready to travel to some of these amazing destinations?

If you have some more suggestions for places to visit in France, I would love to hear about them! Leave a comment. France is one of my favorite places for food, wine, and exploring the outdoors. I’m am sure there are plenty of other gems that I did not include in this list.

Traveling to France will give you a whole new perspective on food and wine.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip here.

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