If you’re planning a getaway in France this summer, odds are high you’re thinking Paris, Cannes or St Tropez. Problem is, these towns are quite touristy and not as authentic as you might hope. Here is where to spend a proper vacation like the French.
DeauvilleProbably one of the most upscale French Summer seaside destinations for Parisians, Deauville is conveniently located in Normandy, just an hour and a half away from Paris. This charming city has retained its Belle Epoque charm and walking around makes you feel like you are cast in another era. Although small, the town has plenty to offer, including boating, racing, gambling and of course, eating.
Sarlat-la-CanedaSarlat is without a doubt one of the most interesting cities in France: the city gave its name to the infamous pommes de terres sarladaises, a typical dish of potatoes roasted duck fat. Don’t forget to explore the area: Collonges-la-Rouge, a red brick town, is a true hidden gem.
BiarritzPerhaps one of the most exciting cities for surfing, Biarritz is a no-frills, unpretentious city located on the Bay of Biscay, at the Spanish border. Aside from spectacular landscape, good food and fresh air, Biarritz includes some of the best spa treatments in France.
VichyKnown for its exceptional thermal water since the Renaissance, aristocrats, artists and wealthy celebrities would flock to the city of Vichy for rejuvenating spa treatments. The city has a controversial history (it was the capital of the French Nazi collaborationist government in the Second World War) but still retains its prestige as one of the most desirable relaxing town
Théoule-sur-MerLocated just 7 miles away from Cannes, the city of Théoule-sur-Mer is known for its magnificent red rock formations, breathtaking coasts and fantastic nature. Stay there if you want to enjoy Cannes and the French Riviera: you are a few minutes ride away from the hecticness but will still get to look at the luxury yachts casually cruising the waters.
HyèresHyères is the city for people who cannot go to St Tropez, either because they cannot afford to stay there or because they cannot stand the traffic. Expect more families there, and a more laid-back, casual feel.
BonifaccioThis lovely town located in the southernmost tip of Corsica hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. We particularly love the Old Town, the Rondinara beach, close to Porto-Vechio, and the fact that you are but a boat ride way from Sardinia.
HonfleurThis wealthy port-city in the Normandy region will make you feel like you are in another world. The harbor’s half-timbered architecture look, the sailboats in the marina and the Medieval fortresses and churches are but a reminder that of the city’s impressive heritage. Make sure you try some of the local specialties, including fresh seafood, cider and crêpes.
Saint-MaloAnother strategic harbor and seaward fortress in Normandy, Saint-Malo was founded by a Welsh monk in the 12th C. Aside from seafarers, privateers and merchants, prominent figures including Chateaubriand and Lamenais chose Saint-Malo as their city of residence. Walking around this impressive city by the sea, its fortresses, castle and cathedral will very likely take you over as well.
The Lerins IslandsThe Lerins Islands are perhaps one of the best-kept secrets and probably one of the most exciting holiday destinations. The islands are but a 15-minute boat ride away from Cannes and comprise Saint Honorat, of a wild, Mediterranean isle inhabited by monks only and open to tourists, and Sainte Marguerite, famous for hosting the prison where the legendary Man in the Iron Mask was kept captive. The Isle also hosts a great, lowkey (and pricey) seafood restaurant frequented by the Jet Set.