There’s more to France than just Paris

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I’ve been to Paris a few times now and although I loved it I wouldn’t rush back. I’m really interested in seeing more of France so I’ve started looking at places I can travel to easily over a long weekend or for a few days away. I’ve narrowed the list down to…

Marseille

Located off the southeast coast of France, Marseille is a cultural mix of style of history. At the centre of the city is its old fort which has the basilica watching over the city while the busy Mediterranean harbour is lined with cafes, bar and shops. You’ll notice the flamboyant mix of French and African influences which interlope with historical sites. Marseille is the ideal location if you are driving through on a road trip or to spend a long week relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere. There are direct flights from many UK airports or some prefer to drive using the ferry services across the English channel.

Marseille has often been outshone by its Provencal neighbours of St Tropez and Cannes which admittedly are more attractive, however it was the European City of Culture in 2013 and is a dynamic and bustling city with 1500 years of maritime history under its belt. If you are stuck for places to explore make sure to visit the Calanques, a series of small inlets with astonishing blue water and majestic limestone cliffs.  Another place to tick off it the Republique quarter – everyone loves to walk around and see the stylish boutiques and boutiques.

Notre Dame de la Garde and olf port in Marseille, France

Loire Valley

Slap bang in the middle of France is the Loire Valley – it’s a popular tourist route which millions flock to for its stunning scenery, picturesque vineyards which produce dry white wine and historic villages. The valley itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stretches 175miles along the Loire River snaking through some of the country’s most beautiful villages. Probably the highest attraction to the area is the wineries that offer wine tastings and tours throughout the year. It’s pretty easy to get to the Loire Valley just jump on a train or bus from Paris and in a few hours you’ll be surrounded by opulent fortresses, castles and chateau’s – a complete hierarchy of royals came here to set up home and build sumptuous palaces so the area is steeped in years of rich history. You’ll be hard pushed to find castles as incredible as these in the rest of Europe.

loire-valley

Strasbourg

I thought Strasbourg was in Germany or Belgium but I was surprised to learn it’s actually in France right on the border with Germany. As the capital city of the Alsace region, the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg is the capital city of the Alsace region. There’s a really nice blend of French and German medieval architecture here and loads to see such as visiting the Gothic cathedral, museums, shopping and lovely continental cafés. It’s a prosperous city also home to the European Union where there are intricate carvings on buildings and a 300 years old astrological clock in the town square. You can find many places selling tickets for wine tours and expeditions around the Alsace region – it’s definitely worth giving up an afternoon of your trip to see some more of the stunning countryside. Alternatively a good time to come here and wander around the twisting alleyways would be in December when the famous Christmas markets bring a little magic to the streets. I searched recently for expedia discount codes and managed to make a good saving off the cost of my trip – you should try it too.