Are you in the midst of planning a trip to France? Among your research, you’ve undoubtedly come across the same articles and tips regurgitated over and over again.
We all know you have to climb the Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre, and eat as many French pastries as possible. But if you don’t want your entire trip to be made up of touristy sites, or you’re looking for a more authentic experience away from the crowds, you’ll need to go off the beaten path.
Luckily, there are many places to visit in France that are untouched by tourists. Whether you still want to visit Paris, or you want to skip it and opt for a less-touristy city, we have the answers you’re looking for.
Do you want to travel off the beaten path in France? Then keep reading to learn where you should go.
There’s no denying the allure of Paris. However, with so many tourists present it can seem impossible to get away. If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, you may want to skip Paris and hit one of these towns instead:
If you’re looking for some of that old European history, you can’t go wrong with Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. Built in the year 806 by Saint Guilhem, this town was originally an Abbey for monks. It has since been dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and really hasn’t changed much over the years.
Visit the old Abbey and the Musee du Village d’Antan to learn a little bit more about this area. Then, spend your days enjoying the architecture that makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
Rouen is another amazing place to visit in France if you’re looking for some history. This is where Joan of Arc was put on trial and subsequently burned at the stake.
While there is plenty of history here, it is more modern than Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. There are plenty of museums and things to do, making it perfect for those who want to keep their days busy.
You can still enjoy some traditional gothic architecture and an impressive Notre Dame cathedral which many say rivals the one in Paris. Just be sure to check out this site to brush up on your French before you go.
Whether you’re planning a winter vacation or summer getaway, Annecy is the perfect escape from the touristy cities. It’s ideal location between the French Alps and Lake Annecy make this a truly romantic and breathtaking spot.
There are ample opportunities for skiing and snowboarding in the French Alps during the winter, while the summer months open up the possibility of paddle boating on Lake Annecy.
But the real allure is the quaint atmosphere of this town. Cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and winding canals make Annecy look like it came right out of a fairytale. This romantic and laid-back town is perfect for honeymoons, anniversaries, or for anyone looking to reconnect with the love of their life.
While there are some truly amazing French towns, many still consider Paris a must, especially if it’s your first time visiting France. If you want to see the city of love, but need to spend some time away from the hordes of tourists, check out these activities:
4. Visit the Museums
Paris is jam-packed with museums. While everyone else is going to the Louvre, head over to one of the quirky museums.
Musee Grevin is filled with wax figures that look so incredibly lifelike. Musee des Arts et Metiers looks like the set of a horror film with old medical instruments and steampunk-style tools lining the walls.
If you do want to check out some art, head over to the Musee Rodin. This museum is dedicated to Auguste Rodin, an art prodigy that got accepted to art school at only 14 years old. He’s best known for his sculpture “The Thinker”, although “The Kiss” is also popular.
5. Explore Underground Catacombs
Did you know there are winding tunnels full of artistically arranged bones right underneath the bustling city of Paris? The Paris Catacombs give you a chance to escape the modern city and explore thousands of years worth of history.
Unlike other catacombs which feature many enclosed graves, the catacombs in Paris actually used the bones from the deceased to create intricate designs. It’s both an eerie and impressive site that can’t be missed.
6. Take a River Cruise…But Not on the Seine
Taking a cruise down the Seine River tops many tourists’ to-do list when visiting Paris. However, these cruises are often overpacked and a tad cheesy.
Instead, head over to the Marne River. You’ll find it much less crowded, and the area is very scenic. In fact, many artists used this as inspiration for their work.
Take your time exploring this area. Stop in at a cafe after your river cruise to enjoy a leisurely meal with a view.
7. Do a DIY Chocolate Crawl
Of course, you can’t go to Paris and not indulge in dessert. Macarons, eclairs, and creme brulee are just some of the sweets you need to try.
But Paris is also known for their chocolatiers. And it just so happens that many of them are located within a few blocks of one another in Saint-Germain-des-Pres.
Patrick Roger, Jean-Charles Rouchoux, Henri Le Roux, Pierre Herme, Franck Kesterner, Maison du Chocolat, and Christian Contant are just a few of the famous chocolatiers you need to check out. Admire the chocolate sculptures located in many of the storefronts and get a small treat from each so you can see who you think is the best of the best.
The Best Places to Visit in France
Don’t limit your upcoming trip by just doing the touristy things. From old, historic towns like Rouen to off the beaten path activities in Paris, there are tons of places to visit in France that will make your trip unique and truly unforgettable.
Are you strapped for cash? Check out our budget travel tips to learn how you can travel on a shoestring budget.