France’s diverse landscapes have inspired influential writers and artists for centuries. Massive mountain ranges, acres of lush, rolling countryside and long stretches of stunning coastline all await you. Here’s five of our favourites:
The Loire Valley
It’s not surprising that the Loire is dubbed the garden of France. This area of outstanding natural beauty borders the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France.
As one of the most visited places in France, the Loire is known not only for its wine, but also for its vast collection of fairytale-style mansions and chateaux and beautifully gentle riverside landscapes. The Loire Valley is packed with so much culture, history and architecture that it’s earned itself World Heritage Site status – don’t miss the Chateau of Chambord and the cathedrals of Bourges and Chartres.
The Côte d’Azur
Southeast France’s sun-soaked Mediterranean coastline, also known as the French Riviera, is a glamorous region that has transfixed many famous and well-heeled visitors over the decades – these include writers and artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as well as Royalty.
Its vast stretches of gorgeous beaches and azure waters put the Côte d’Azur amongst the most beautiful places to visit in France. While you’re there, make sure you pay a visit to the chic coastal cities of Cannes, Nice and St-Tropez – their exclusivity is hard to resist!
Giverny is a riverside paradise situated on the borders of Normandy, a region most famous for being where Impressionism began.
This quaint village was once Claude Monet’s much-loved country retreat and today his pretty pink timbered house and beautiful country gardens are open to the public. Planted and painted by the artist himself, the walled water garden blooms with purple and white wisterias, bamboo, water lilies, weeping willows and the iconic green Japanese bridge.
South west France’s Dordogne region is immensely beautiful and draws in swarms of British visitors. The Dordogne’s long roads and river wind through unspoiled pastures, charming medieval and spectacular chateaux making for the classic French experience.
The region is also famed for its fine prehistoric cave art in the Vézère Valley, as well as for its fortified towns and, of course, its sensational cuisine which homes in on seasonal local produce such as fruits, duck goose and black truffles, not to speak of its Bergerac wines.
In just a day, you can have a whole holiday’s-worth of fun in Provence: breakfast on the coast; a morning exploring the old town of Nice; lunch at a country auberge; followed by an afternoon touring the hills, perhaps with a vineyard visit along the way, before marvelling at an unforgettable sunset to a backdrop of the Alps.
For the iconic and unforgettable lavender fields, head for Luberon, then wind your way past olive groves and vineyards interspersed with picturesque villages like Baux-de-Provence and St. Rémy, and the amazing walled city of Avignon.