Paris had been on my bucket list for 15yr and the Husband finally whisked me off for a surprise visit for our 10th wedding anniversary back in October and I fell in love. If you have built somewhere up in your head for so long it can sometimes disappoint but not Paris. It has a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to go back.
Here’s 5 top tips for maximising your visit to France!
France isn’t easy to pin down. On one half of the country you’ll find a cultural melting pot; Paris acts as the hub of this, being the capital city of the country and welcoming the most tourists out of any other in the world. The other half boasts luxurious beaches and laid back relaxation in the Mediterranean sun. You’re spoilt for choice when visiting France, but here are five of the best things you can do on your travels:
Wander the alluring streets of Paris
It would be ignorant not to recommend the most iconic city in the world as a must-see. Paris is truly one of the most beautiful and unique destinations you’ll ever visit; retaining its French values through the yearly influxes of tourism, whilst romance fills the air so effortlessly in the City of Love with its dainty cafes, wondrous architecture and plentiful art. There’s something to do wherever you go – whether it’s seeing the Mona Lisa for yourself at the Louvre, eating countless breads and pastries from stalls and restaurants around the city or just strolling aimlessly through the alluring arrondissements, you’ll find it’s hard to get bored in Paris. Be careful, though – just one pain au chocolat contains around 300 calories! TINZ recommends approaching your French dining in moderation – also, consider investing in some comfy walking shoes so that you can stroll through the city with ease.
Experience the regeneration of Marseille
Alternatively, you can head further into France and visit the south, which feels like a whole different world away to the typical Parisian influences of the north. Marseille is quickly becoming a desired destination for many, with its continuing renovations and transformation making it even more enticing. With sandy beaches lining the shore of the city and once forgotten areas being reclaimed as hip workplaces and dining outlets, it’s definitely a unique French city that you’ll find very charming in its peculiarities. Not far from the bustling centre is Cassis, a much quieter and more traditional beach town that’s home to the calanques, a group of limestone valleys that hide beautiful turquoise bays ready for you to dive right in.
Discover the hidden treasures of Lille
Often overshadowed by the capital city, Lille is full of hidden treasures that many tourists haven’t considered discovering. You could think of it as Paris on a smaller scale, but it’s much cooler than that. It was even recently found to be the “happiest city in France”! Its Flemish roots are evident in its architecture, with 17th and 18th century sandstone buildings lining the streets and the Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange) showcasing intricate details in its design. Nowadays its home to a quirky and relaxed marketplace, which sets the tone for the rest of the city – it’s laidback, easy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Interested? The Eurostar stops in Lille before it reaches Paris, so maybe you’ll disembark and experience its cultural vibrancy for yourself.
Try your hand at riding the French Alps
Looking for a completely different holiday to the usual? Consider the French Alps, the largest mountain range in Europe with much more to offer than just skiing. The alpine villages scattered across the area are still very much alive, with farming and cheese making a huge part of the culture to this day. And, depending on which part of the Alps you visit, you could cross the border to countless other countries – Italy, Austria and Germany can all be found on the other side, to name a few. It’d be silly not to recommend skiing here, though – Chamonix is arguably the most reputable region to ride the massive peaks and test your skills, with picturesque views of Mont Blanc as you do so!
Wander the quiet landscapes of Corsica
You could easily earn bragging rights if you become the first of all your friends to discover this tiny French island. Corsica lies southeast off of the French coast towards Italy and is accessible by ferry and plane. Once you arrive, you’ll find majestic mountains, calm blue waters and quiet beach towns that are mostly free of tourists. Its location plays a part in its culture, too, with a French/Italian fusion of architecture, food and wine on offer. Visit Bonifacio on the south of the island for a view of its infamous limestone cliffs, towering over the crashing waves below. And, if you’re up for it after a day of wondrous exploring, Via Notte – an open-air nightclub – plays host to world famous DJs all the time. It’s a French paradise that nobody knows about!