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Some of the dreamiest places in France

Tables and chaties in a square in France, lined with bars and restaurants, tables shaded by plane trees

In 1787, 14 years before he became the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson toured France. He left Paris where he was based and made his way south, stopping en route at dozens of towns and cities, tasting wine, enjoying the food and writing about the people he met and the sights he saw. His conclusion was that “Every man has two countries – his own and France.” He noted the enormous variety of landscapes, the wealth of history, beautiful castles and more. What held true then is true now. France is a land of contrasts, sea, countryside, mountains, grand cities, pretty and medieval villages. Here are some of the dreamiest places in France which reveal its many glorious diversities…

Provence

Fountain in a square surrounded by tall old houses and lush green trees in Provence

Lavender fields, sun-kissed hilltop villages, historic cities, vineyards, amazing wine and gastronomy, marvellous markets, seaside resorts and charming fishing villages. Provence has it all – and then some.

Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Alps and Rhone river, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur is a sun-drenched region with a gentle climate and generous soil. Set at the crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean, it offers a unique blend of culture and gastronomy, not to mention rosé wine.

There are so many places to fall in love with from Nice to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon to Gigondas, Orange to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. You can visit a different part of Provence for years and never see it all.

Paris

View over Paris from the top of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower in the background

You know that old saying “Paris is always a good idea” – it’s totally true!

Almost 40 million visitors a year make this one of the most popular cities in the world. We’re really not surprised. With its long history and tradition of preserving it’s iconic buildings and landmarks, it’s easy to fall head over heels with Paris. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Cathedral of Notre Dame, strolling along the river Seine, browsing the second-hand bookstores… the list of Paris’s charms is endless. It’s more than just the buildings and places though, Paris has a certain je ne sais quoi. Fabulous boulangeries and patisseries, city street markets, cosy cafés and the Metro. A stonking 153 museums to keep the most ardent culture vulture happy. And there are beautiful parks where chairs painted Paris green invite you to sit and watch the world go by. Yup – we’ll take Paris any day…

Bordeaux

Water sculpture known as the Mirror of Water in Bordeaux city reflects buildings around it.

The main city of Aquitaine, Bordeaux is one of the most elegant cities in France. With its large avenues teeming with 18th century buildings which have UNESCO World Heritage Site status, museums, riverside quays of shops and restaurants – it’s simply fabulous. It’s also the gateway to some of France’s most famous vineyards. Pomerol, St Emilion, Pessac Leognan, Entre deux Mers, Medoc, Cote de Blaye…. And there are hundreds of Chateaux! South of Bordeaux you’ll reach the Atlantic Coast. Arcachon is a particular favourite seaside resort. It’s famous for its oysters and the Dune du Pilat, the tallest dune in Europe.

Burgundy

Vineyards surround a tiny town in Burgundy, houses with terracotta roofs and an old church

Glorious wine, gorgeous countryside, castles, abbeys and beautiful villages plus a network of canals and rivers. There’s something to please everyone in Burgundy. Dijon is a stunning city with wonderful restaurants and sensational museums. And, nearby Beaune, with its famous Hospices, is a must-see. With its UNESCO listed vineyards, the “climats” and world-renowned cuisine, Burgundy is the perfect region for those who want to relax.

Loire Valley

View of the city of Blois, Loire Valley, pointed towers of the castle, arched stone bridge, old houses

There are more than 1000 chateaux including the royal castles of Blois, Amboise, Chambord and Chenonceau in the Loire Valley. Beautiful countryside and world-class vineyards – it’s no wonder the Kings of France chose the Loire Valley as their playground. Known as the “garden of France”, the Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for its living cultural landscape, the largest such area in France. Pretty little villages, historic cities such as Tours, Orleans and Saumur, cycle trails, rivers, troglodyte houses, Sancerre with its wine and famous goats cheese – crottins de Chavignol. The Loire Valley just has so much to fall in love with. It’s the sort of place you visit and never want to leave – once really just isn’t enough…

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