When travelling, do you like to go where the locals go? Us too! We love finding those off-the-tourist-track places where the country’s residents like to kick back and unwind.
In France, les grandes vacances (the big holidays) kick-off at the start of July. The French have five weeks of mandatory holidays a year and most people take a few weeks off in July or August to head away on holiday. During these two months, a lot of people move around the country and the roads become rather congested with traffic.
Where do the French go on holiday in France?
1. Dinan, Brittany
Many consider Dinan to be one of the best medieval villages in Brittany, and we wholeheartedly agree. With its cobblestone streets lined with half-timber buildings, there is an old-world look and atmosphere to this attractive town. For the best views, head to St. Catherine’s Tower from where you can survey the whole town, including the viaduct and port. There is a weekly market in the town square where you can rub shoulders with the locals whilst stocking up on the most delicious regional produce. The perfect place to fill up your picnic basket before heading to the banks of the river for an al fresco lunch.
2. Trouville-sur-Mer, Normandy
Trouville-sur-Mer is a delightful fishing village with beautiful, golden beaches and cool, clear water perfect for a refreshing dip. Being a fishing village, you know that the seafood is going to be fresh and full of flavour. Make like the locals and grab a table at lively seafood restaurants around the port, order the catch of the day and a bottle of rose and watch the sunset. It’s magical.
3. Lac d’Annecy, Haute-Savoie
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful lakes in France, Lac d’Annecy is simply breathtaking. Located in the Haute-Savoie region in the Alps of eastern France, Lake Annecy is “Europe’s cleanest lake” due to its strict environmental controls. This makes the lake ideal for swimming, but watch out, you’ll also be sharing the clean waters with French residents fishing, rowing, sailing, diving and water skiing.
4. Lac de Gaube, Pyrenees
Lac de Gaub is located in the French Pyrenees at foot of the Vignemale massif. You access the lake via a chair lift or walking trail. This high altitude lake is surrounded by peaks which are reflected in the turquoise-blue waters. It is postcard perfection. No wonder Lake Gaube has been inspiring romantic writers and painters for centuries and luring the French here on their holidays too. It’s hard not to fall in love with the place. The French like to camp near the lake and there are plenty of mobile homes, chalets and apartments to rent nearby.
5. Gordes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
The French love to holiday in upscale Gordes to enjoy its monuments, history, and spas. Beautiful stone buildings spiral up a hill which is crowned by a church and medieval castle. From the top, the views stretch as far as the eye can see over the Luberon valley. Its picturesque hilltop location is a magnet for artists and there are art exhibits throughout the town. There are lots of lovely boutiques and cafes and a wonderful weekly market where you can mingle with the locals and practice your French. Oui, oui!
6. Luberon Natural Regional Park, Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur
When the French want an active holiday, many head to the Luberon Natural Regional Park, which is located between the Alps and the Mediterranean. It is a great destination for those who love history and nature. From Romanesque abbeys to plunging canyons, the landscape is full of surprises, and there are plenty of walking trails to help you explore. In 1997, Luberon Natural Regional Park became part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve network which recognises and helps preserve the mosaic of habitats and biotopes with rich biodiversity.
Where do the French go on holiday in France that isn’t on the mainland? Corsica! Haute-Corse is an administrative department of France, consisting of the northern part of the island of Corsica. It is famous for its white-sand beaches, shimmering blue sea, and picturesque small towns. Looking to embrace the great outdoors and reacquaint yourself with nature? You can do that here too at the regional natural park and the Monte Cinto mountain (2,706 m). Corsica is a brilliant destination for holidaymakers who like to swim, sunbathe, hike and climb.