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Exquisite places in France (outside of Paris)

"Traveling - it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta

I love Paris, but there are many amazing places in France outside of Paris that are worth exploring. I remember being in the Alps in France, after a delicious fondue meal at this lovely chalet, I walked outside and laid on a lounger and gazed out at the stunningly beautiful snowy mountains and I felt complete awe. That memory is one that I will relish forever. In this post, I will recommend some dreamy places to stay that will give you the kind of memories you will look back on and savor.


Bonneval-sur-Arc captivates visitors with its alpine splendor, historic charm, and timeless allure, inviting them to embark on a journey of exploration and wonder in the heart of the French Alps.

Best time to visit: June to September or December to March

Where to stay:

Le Refuge de Solaise

Staying at Le Refuge de Solaise means experiencing a warm and cozy nature getaway with all your senses. With16 rooms and suites, 4 apartments and a cozy dormitory, there is plenty of room for families or groups. Stone walls and local wood, chic furnishings dressed in wool, velvet and leather, sunny terraces, large picture windows overlooking the valley: the spirit of the place is warm and turned towards nature. To complete the experience, Le Refuge de Solaise offers half-board with gourmet breakfast and transalpine dinner at Gigi's.

Airelles Val d'Isere

In an elegant and warm atmosphere, Airelles Val d'Isère offers 41 luxurious rooms and suites with discreet charm, as well as 5 sumptuous private apartments, offering an idyllic view of the estate and the snow-capped fir trees. A sanctuary with an alpine spirit, bathed in natural high mountain light, like a cocoon of softness and serenity to relax after a day of skiing with the family. Between the mythical restaurant, La Grande Ourse and Loulou, which recently set up shop in the famous resort: the restaurants of Airelles Val d'Isère are among the most remarkable in the region.For all-day service, head to the Bar and its menu of classic dishes to be enjoyed in a warm atmosphere.Enjoy a unique sensory experience and relax in the refinement of a wonderful spa in Val d'Isère.

Things to do in Bonneval:

  • Hiking: Explore the pristine natural beauty of the area by embarking on one of the many hiking trails that wind through the mountains surrounding Bonneval-sur-Arc. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, there are trails suited to every skill level, offering breathtaking views of the alpine scenery and opportunities to spot local wildlife.

  • Skiing and Snowboarding: During the winter months, Bonneval-sur-Arc transforms into a snowy paradise, attracting skiers and snowboarders to its slopes. With access to a variety of ski runs catering to all levels of experience, as well as cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing routes, there are plenty of options for winter sports enthusiasts to enjoy.

  • Cultural Exploration: Take a stroll through the charming streets of Bonneval-sur-Arc to discover its rich cultural heritage. Visit the Baroque-style Church of Saint-Barthélemy, with its beautifully preserved interior and ornate decorations, or explore the Maison de Bonneval, a museum dedicated to the history and traditions of the village.

  • Photography: With its stunning mountain scenery, traditional Alpine architecture, and picturesque surroundings, Bonneval-sur-Arc offers endless opportunities for photography enthusiasts to capture breathtaking images. Whether you're capturing the sunrise over the mountains or the quaint village streets bathed in golden light, there's no shortage of inspiring subjects to photograph.

  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls the French Alps home. From ibex and chamois to marmots and golden eagles, there are plenty of opportunities to spot local fauna in their natural habitat. Consider joining a guided wildlife tour for the best chances of seeing these magnificent creatures up close.

  • Culinary Delights: Indulge in the delicious flavors of Savoie cuisine at one of Bonneval-sur-Arc's many restaurants and eateries. Sample traditional dishes like tartiflette, raclette, and fondue, made with locally sourced ingredients and served with crusty bread and fine wines from the region.

  • Relaxation and Wellness: After a day of outdoor adventure, unwind and rejuvenate at one of Bonneval-sur-Arc's wellness centers or spas. Treat yourself to a soothing massage, indulge in a luxurious hot tub soak, or simply take some time to relax and soak in the tranquil mountain atmosphere.

  • Shopping: Browse the local shops and boutiques in Bonneval-sur-Arc to find unique souvenirs and gifts to take home. From handmade crafts and artisanal products to locally produced cheeses and wines, there's something for everyone to discover in the village's charming shops.


Colmar, a picturesque town nestled in the heart of the Alsace region in northeastern France, embodies the quintessential charm of a fairytale European village. Whether you're exploring its historic streets, savoring its local cuisine, or admiring its artistic treasures, Colmar promises an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

Best time to visit: May, June, September or October

Where to stay:

5 Terrres Hotel & Spa

Consider a stay at 5 Terres Hôtel & Spa - MGallery and take advantage of 18 holes of golf, a terrace, and a shopping mall on site. Sip and savor at this hotel, which boasts a tasting room, winery tours, and a vineyard. Indulge in a massage, a body treatment, and a facial at the onsite spa. Be sure to enjoy light fare at the onsite restaurant. In addition to a garden and a library, guests can connect to free in-room WiFi.

Hotel La Chambard

18 holes of golf, a terrace, and laundry facilities are just a few of the amenities provided at Hôtel Le Chambard. Indulge in a massage, a facial, and a body treatment at the onsite spa. Enjoy regional cuisine and more at the two onsite restaurants. Stay connected with free in-room WiFi, and guests can find other amenities such as a bar and a sauna.

Things to do in Colmar:

  • Explore the Old Town: Wander through the cobblestone streets of Colmar's well-preserved Old Town, where you'll find a treasure trove of half-timbered houses, historic buildings, and charming squares. Be sure to visit landmarks such as the Maison Pfister, Koïfhus (Old Customs House), and Maison des Têtes (House of Heads).

  • Visit Little Venice: Stroll along the idyllic canals of Colmar's "Little Venice" district, where colorful buildings reflect in the water and flower-filled balconies add to the charm. Take a boat ride along the Lauch River to admire the picturesque scenery from a different perspective.

  • Admire Historic Churches: Explore Colmar's religious heritage by visiting its beautiful churches. The Saint-Martin Collegiate Church, with its impressive Gothic architecture and stunning stained glass windows, is a must-see. Don't miss the Église Saint-Matthieu, known for its elegant Baroque façade and ornate interior.

  • Discover Museums and Galleries: Immerse yourself in art and history at Colmar's museums and galleries. The Unterlinden Museum, housed in a former convent, is home to the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald, as well as an impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance art. The Bartholdi Museum celebrates the life and work of Colmar's famous sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, best known for creating the Statue of Liberty.

  • Indulge in Alsatian Cuisine: Sample the delicious flavors of Alsatian cuisine at one of Colmar's many restaurants and cafes. Try local specialties such as choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages and potatoes), tarte flambée (thin crust pizza with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon), and foie gras. Wash it down with a glass of Alsatian wine, known for its crisp Rieslings and aromatic Gewürztraminers.

  • Explore the Markets: Experience Colmar's lively market scene by visiting its various markets and festivals throughout the year. The Marché Couvert (Covered Market) offers a wide selection of local produce, cheeses, meats, and artisanal products. Don't miss the festive Christmas markets in December, where you can shop for unique gifts and enjoy seasonal treats.

  • Take a Wine Tour: Discover the renowned wines of the Alsace region by taking a wine tour or visiting nearby vineyards. Colmar is surrounded by picturesque vineyards producing high-quality wines such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. Explore wine routes such as the Route des Vins d'Alsace and sample the region's best wines while enjoying breathtaking views of the countryside.

  • Attend Cultural Events: Check out Colmar's calendar of cultural events and festivals, which showcase the town's rich heritage and artistic talent. From music concerts and theater performances to art exhibitions and folk festivals, there's always something exciting happening in Colmar.

Day trip idea: Eguisheim and Alsace


Valensole, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France, is renowned for its stunning lavender fields, making it a popular destination for tourists, particularly during the blooming season from June to August.

Best time to visit: Summer

Where to stay:

Bonne Etape

At La Bonne Etape, you can look forward to a terrace, a coffee shop/cafe, and a garden. Adventurous travelers may like the cycling at this hotel. Treat yourself to spa services, such as a body treatment, a facial, or a manicure/pedicure. Enjoy French cuisine and more at the two onsite restaurants. Stay connected with free WiFi in public areas, and guests can find other amenities such as dry cleaning/laundry services and a bar.

Hotel Charembeau

Hotel Charembeau surrounded by 7 hectares of hills and meadows, offers two types of accommodation.

The traditional Hotel formula: 25 rooms and 6 different categories

The residential Hotel formula: 9 rooms and 4 different categories

This formula is particularly appreciated for longer stays that will enable to enjoy the peaceful park and to prepare one’s own meals with local products from the seasonal markets. Take advantage of a terrace, a garden, and a playground at Hotel Charembeau. Free in-room WiFi is available to all guests, along with a library and laundry facilities.

Things to do in Valensole:

  • Lavender Fields: Valensole is famous for its vast expanses of lavender fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. Visitors flock to the region during the blooming season to witness the breathtaking sight of endless purple blooms against the backdrop of rolling hills. The fragrance of lavender fills the air, creating a sensory experience unlike any other.

  • Photography Opportunities: The picturesque landscapes of Valensole provide ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts to capture stunning shots of lavender fields, sunsets, and the charming Provencal countryside. Many professional and amateur photographers visit Valensole to capture its beauty.

  • Local Markets: Valensole hosts vibrant local markets where visitors can sample and purchase an array of Provencal products, including lavender products such as essential oils, soaps, and sachets. These markets also offer regional specialties like olive oil, honey, cheese, and wine, providing a taste of Provencal gastronomy.

  • Outdoor Activities: Beyond lavender viewing, Valensole offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking amidst the scenic countryside. There are several well-marked trails that lead through the lavender fields and surrounding areas, allowing visitors to explore the region's natural beauty up close.

  • Historical and Cultural Sites: Valensole is home to charming medieval villages and historical landmarks that reflect the region's rich heritage. Visitors can wander through narrow cobblestone streets, admire ancient architecture, and visit local churches and monuments to gain insight into the area's history and culture.

  • Local Cuisine: Food enthusiasts can indulge in Provencal cuisine at restaurants and cafes in Valensole, where dishes are prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From traditional Provençal stews and seafood dishes to delectable pastries and desserts, there's something to satisfy every palate.

  • Lavender Festivals: Valensole hosts annual lavender festivals and events celebrating the blooming season, where visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty and fragrance of lavender while enjoying live music, dance performances, art exhibitions, and culinary delights inspired by the region's iconic flower.

Day Trip Idea: Aix-en-Provence


Ribeauvillé is a picturesque medieval town located in the Alsace region of northeastern France. It is renowned for its well-preserved historic architecture, charming cobblestone streets, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a popular destination for tourists.

Best time to visit: Spring or Summer

Where to stay

L'Hôtel & Spa Ribeauvillé

Located in the centre of Ribeauvillé, l’Hotel & Spa Ribeauvillé welcomes you to the heart of the Alsatian vineyards. Equipped with an indoor heated swimming pool with jacuzzi and a spa (sauna, hammam, relaxation area), it gives you the time to discover the tourist sites of Alsace. At 40 minutes from Strasbourg and 20 minutes from Colmar, it is the ideal base for appreciating the charm of the villages of central Alsace and enjoying the regional gastronomy.

Resort Barrière Ribeauvillé

Wander through the streets with lovely colourful houses, and discover the fabulous treasures of the Ribeaupierre. Venture off the beaten track to the Trois-Châteaux and Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. Explore the wine route and try grand crus in the wine growers' cellars. Fly with the eagles and be amazed at Monkey Mountain. Feel the benefits of thermal springs, golf at Ammerschwihr, and walking in Riquewihr. Between the planes of Alsace and the Vosges Mountains, live the dream in Ribeauvillé.

Things to do in Ribeauville

  • Medieval Charm: Ribeauvillé is known for its enchanting medieval architecture, with colorful half-timbered houses, ancient ramparts, and cobblestone streets that evoke a sense of old-world charm. Visitors can wander through the historic center, admiring landmarks such as the 15th-century Town Hall, the Thieves' Tower, and the imposing Château Saint-Ulrich, which overlooks the town from a nearby hilltop.

  • Wine Tourism: Ribeauvillé is located in the heart of the Alsace wine region, known for its world-class white wines, particularly Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. The town is surrounded by vineyards, and visitors can explore local wineries, participate in wine tastings, and learn about the winemaking process while enjoying panoramic views of the vine-covered hillsides.

  • Historic Landmarks: In addition to its medieval architecture, Ribeauvillé boasts several historic landmarks that offer insights into its rich heritage. These include the 12th-century Church of Saint Gregory, the House of the Heads (Maison des Têtes) with its ornate Renaissance facade, and the Dolder Tower, a medieval watchtower that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside.

  • Cultural Events: Ribeauvillé hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating its Alsatian heritage and traditions. One of the most popular events is the Ribeauvillé Wine and Gastronomy Fair, held annually in August, where visitors can sample local wines, culinary specialties, and regional crafts while enjoying live music and entertainment.

  • Outdoor Activities: The scenic surroundings of Ribeauvillé offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking. The nearby Vosges Mountains provide numerous hiking trails and scenic viewpoints, while the Alsace Wine Route offers a picturesque route for cycling enthusiasts to explore the region at their own pace.

  • Gourmet Cuisine: Alsace is known for its delicious culinary specialties, and Ribeauvillé is no exception. Visitors can dine at local restaurants, winstubs (traditional Alsatian taverns), and bakeries, where they can savor dishes such as choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages and potatoes), tarte flambée (Alsatian pizza), and kugelhopf (a traditional Alsatian cake).

  • Artisanal Products: Ribeauvillé is home to a variety of artisanal shops and boutiques where visitors can purchase locally crafted goods, including pottery, glassware, textiles, and souvenirs. The town's charming streets are lined with boutiques offering unique treasures and gifts to take home as mementos of your visit.Day trip idea: Strasbourg


Rocamadour is a captivating medieval village perched dramatically on a cliffside in the Lot department of southwestern France. It is renowned for its stunning architecture, religious significance, and picturesque setting, attracting tourists from around the world.

Best time to visit: Spring to Fall

Where to stay:

Le Bois d'Imbert

Not far from the medieval city of Rocamadour and close to the region's must-see places, the hotel Le Bois d'Imbert offers a unique setting! Imagine, a cocoon in the heart of nature. 60 modern, comfortable and air-conditioned rooms, some with a view of the forest or the valley... Ideal for immersing yourself in a bubble with your tribe, with friends, as a duo and even solo!

Surprise your taste buds with a detour to the Bistrot d'Imbert and its panoramic view. Discover the Roc' O'clock offer with formulas to treat you throughout the day: in the morning with breakfast, at lunchtime with picnic baskets to take away and until the end of the evening with a gourmet snack menu.

Hotel Beau Site Notre Dame

Le Beau Site is an elegant hotel nestled in the heart of the Medieval City of Rocamadour, in the Dordogne Valley. Warm and welcoming, it is located in an old, renovated house and offers a modern environment. The establishment has a renowned restaurant, terraces overlooking the valley, a bar, a reception area, as well as a small, vaulted lounge and an interior terrace in the historic building with a view of the Site.

Things to do in Rocamadour:

  • Spiritual Pilgrimage: Rocamadour has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, drawing devout Catholics and spiritual seekers to its sacred sites. The village is home to the Sanctuary of Rocamadour, a complex of religious buildings including the Notre-Dame Chapel, which houses the revered Black Madonna statue. Pilgrims climb the Grand Staircase, a monumental flight of 216 steps, as an act of penance and devotion.

  • Historic Architecture: The architecture of Rocamadour is a testament to its medieval heritage. The village is characterized by its clustered buildings clinging to the cliffside, with narrow alleys and stone staircases winding through the steep terrain. Visitors can explore landmarks such as the Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of St. Sauveur, the Château de Rocamadour, and the ancient ramparts that once protected the village.

  • Scenic Beauty: Rocamadour is set amidst stunning natural scenery, with limestone cliffs rising dramatically above the Alzou Valley. The village offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including lush forests, meandering rivers, and rolling hills. Visitors can take in the breathtaking vistas from various vantage points within the village or embark on scenic walks and hikes in the nearby countryside.

  • Cultural Attractions: In addition to its religious and architectural landmarks, Rocamadour offers cultural attractions that showcase the region's heritage. The village is home to museums, art galleries, and craft workshops where visitors can learn about local traditions, craftsmanship, and folklore. The Maison des Merveilles (House of Wonders) museum, for example, exhibits archaeological artifacts and folk art depicting the history of Rocamadour.

  • Gastronomy: Rocamadour is located in the heart of the Quercy region, known for its culinary delights. Visitors can savor traditional dishes such as confit de canard (duck confit), foie gras, truffles, and Rocamadour cheese, a creamy goat cheese named after the village. The local restaurants and cafes offer an opportunity to indulge in regional cuisine paired with fine wines from nearby vineyards.

  • Outdoor Activities: The picturesque surroundings of Rocamadour provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the scenic hiking trails that wind through the Quercy Regional Natural Park, go horseback riding along designated equestrian routes, or enjoy recreational activities such as rock climbing and canoeing in the Alzou Valley.

  • Festivals and Events: Throughout the year, Rocamadour hosts festivals and cultural events that celebrate its heritage and traditions. These events often feature music, dance, theater, and culinary festivities, offering visitors a chance to experience the vibrant cultural life of the village.


Sarlat offers a delightful blend of history, culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty, providing visitors with a memorable and immersive experience in one of France's most enchanting medieval towns.

Best time to visit: Spring to Fall

Where to stay:

Hotel La Hoirie

In the heart of Périgord Noir, nestled on a green hill, at the gates of Sarlatand its medieval city, La Hoirie welcomes you in one of its 43 rooms in the middle of a wooded estate. A true haven of peace in a green setting, La Hoirie is the ideal place to relax and recharge your batteries as a couple or with family. This hotel in Sarlat offers you three pavilions, a park, an outdoor swimming pool, and asemi-gastronomic restaurant. From beginning of April to mid-November, come and discover the authenticity of La Hoirie, the hotel with restaurant in Sarlat!

Le Petit Manoir

Le Petit Manoir (The Little Manor), built towards the end of the 15th century, sits in the centre of Sarlat, a medieval city at the heart of the Dordogne. Some call it a stately home, others a town castle. Your hotel, Le Petit Manoir, is a unique dwelling, where those who love the Périgord and an exceptional world-famous heritage are welcome. As soon as you step into this little haven nestling at the heart of Sarlat-la-Canéda, a location not to be missed in the Périgord Noir, the bustle of the city will seem quite remote. Let yourself be lulled by the tranquility and peaceful atmosphere of a town garden, around the main courtyard. Relax by the pool and indulge in the tempting offers and services of this unique townhouse.

Things to do in Sarlat:

  1. Medieval Architecture: Sarlat is celebrated for its impeccably preserved medieval architecture, with narrow cobblestone streets, golden limestone buildings, and beautifully restored houses dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Visitors can wander through the historic center, known as the "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire" (City of Art and History), to admire architectural gems such as the Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos, the Lanterne des Morts, and the Maison de la Boétie.

  2. Weekly Markets: Sarlat is famous for its vibrant outdoor markets, which take place multiple times a week. The bustling market squares come alive with stalls selling a variety of goods, including fresh produce, local delicacies, artisanal crafts, clothing, and antiques. The Saturday market, in particular, is a must-visit, offering a sensory feast of colors, aromas, and flavors.

  3. Culinary Delights: The Dordogne region is known for its exquisite cuisine, and Sarlat is no exception. Visitors can indulge in traditional Perigordian dishes such as foie gras, truffles, confit de canard (duck confit), and walnut-based desserts. The town boasts numerous restaurants, bistros, and cafés where travelers can savor the rich flavors of regional cuisine paired with local wines.

  4. Historic Sites: In addition to its medieval architecture, Sarlat is home to several historic sites and landmarks that offer insights into its storied past. These include the 12th-century Church of Sainte-Marie, the former Episcopal Palace (now the Town Hall), and the imposing Château de Beynac, located just a short drive away. Guided tours are available for those interested in delving deeper into the town's history.

  5. Cultural Events: Sarlat hosts a variety of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, ranging from music and theater performances to art exhibitions and culinary fairs. One of the highlights is the Sarlat Fest'Oie, a festival celebrating foie gras and the region's culinary heritage, which takes place annually in February.

  6. Outdoor Activities: The picturesque surroundings of Sarlat offer opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, canoeing, and hot air ballooning. Travelers can explore the scenic landscapes of the Dordogne Valley, visit nearby castles and prehistoric sites, or simply enjoy leisurely strolls along the riverbanks.

  7. Film Locations: Sarlat's well-preserved medieval streets and buildings have served as the backdrop for numerous films and television productions. Movie enthusiasts can follow in the footsteps of their favorite characters by taking guided tours of filming locations or simply exploring the town's cinematic settings at their own pace.

Day trip idea: Beynac-et-Cazenac

What's next on your bucket list?


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