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Brilliant off the beaten track city breaks in France

France is a land of diverse landscapes and varied cities. There’s the cultural capital Paris, the gastronomic capital Bordeaux and wine capital Lyon – but there’s far more to France that the well-known. Discover some of the most beautiful, undiscovered cities for a special break you’ll love.

Brittany – Dinan

Dinan is a beautifully preserved medieval town that looks like a film set. The Thursday morning market is vibrant and colourful, stalls piled high with shiny vegetables and sweet-smelling fruit, piquant cheeses, charcuterie and bread. There’s plenty going on here, especially in the summer. Every two years in July, the town stages its famous Fête des Remparts, one of the biggest medieval festivals in Europe.

The old centre is small enough to explore on foot if a little hilly. Half-timbered houses, a beautiful little port lined with great restaurants, cobbled streets of quirky shops and art galleries make this a fabulous city break destination.

Dinan – The best things to do in this oh so pretty town

Tarn et Garonne – St Antonin Noble Var

This medieval city lies in the heart of the Gorges of Aveyron. A place of winding alleys, ancient buildings, cosy cafés and restaurants and a sensational Sunday morning market. It’s a lively town with lots of events and festivals, home to artisans and artists with plenty of little shops to tempt you.

It’s not all history and culture though and sports and outdoors lovers will enjoy the hiking footpaths, horse riding, cycle routes, caves and water sports. There’s even a beach and of course, the gorges.

Loire Atlantique – Batz-sur-Mer

Between the salt marshes – a haven for bird life – and the Atlantic Ocean, Batz-sur-Mer is a little piece of paradise. A place of find sandy beaches, La Baule, the longest been in Europe is close by and there’s a dramatic coastline which you can walk via a restored coastal path.

The town makes for a great base to visit the area and there’s lots to see and do. Le Croisic, a fishing port, is at the end of the peninsula and easily reached by bike or on foot. Le Pouliguen is on the river that separates Batz from sophisticated La Baule nestled among pine trees. Guérande is a medieval must-see and Brière is a huge freshwater marshland, a beautiful conservation area.

Drome – Nyons

Nyons is some way off the beaten track to the east of Valence in the north and Avignon to the south. Tucked into the foot of hill, the town dates back to before the 5th century and you’re welcomed by a large open square surrounded by covered arcades, plane and palm trees and pavement cafés and bars. It feels Mediterranean and in the evening the trees are lit up, and there’s a holiday feel with helmetless moped riders buzzing about and old French cars.

Quintessentially French, mellow and famous for its olives, this is town to linger in and fall in love with the real south of France.

Nyons – the last Provencal frontier…

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