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Top Places to Visit in the French Countryside

You think of France, you think of Paris, right? The city of lights sure is iconic and amazing and one of the remarkable places to visit. But guess what, the rest of France has some serious hidden beauty waiting to be explored if you're prepared to venture out of the Parisian bubble.

 

The French countryside is dotted with quaint villages and breathtaking landscapes. It's the type of region that you don't know what you're missing out on, until you get your first glimpse.

 

If you're taking that extra step and are planning your travels to the 'real France', here are some top towns and villages to put on your itinerary!

 

Vienne

Just an 18 minute train ride out of Lyon is a real French gem. This beautiful town is totally worth a visit. Check out the ancient Roman ruins and amphitheatre that really take you back in time, all the while enjoying a glass of wine at one of the cute cafes surrounding the ruins. Further down towards the river is a beautiful church that will take your breath away.

 

Make sure you visit the park here and take a stroll along the river. There are also lots of cute craft shops and local clothing boutiques for a spot of shopping. All this is located right near the train station so it's super easy to see the whole place in a day. The river has got to be one of the best places in France to enjoy a stunning sunset so try to put that on your itinerary!

 

Bourg-en-Bresse

In the Bourgogne region, Bourg-en-Bresse has a lovely and chilled out vibe to it. About a 40 minute train ride out of Lyon, this cute town has an old, relaxed feel but still keeps up with modern society by having a huge range of cool shops to check out.

 

History doesn't take a side step to the shopping though, with stunning churches and building blending in to the newer shops and still keeping that classic European cultural feel. The main square is a great place to sit back for a beverage or something to eat while appreciating the magnificent water feature in the middle of the square.

 

Macon

Still in the Bourgogne region, Macon is also around a 40 minute train ride out of Lyon. The river here will impress any one on any day. On the weekends, and sometimes through the week, there is an awesome market that takes place on the banks.  Grab some local produce to fill up your belly while you explore the rest of the Macon.

 

Everything in Macon is really central, making it easy to walk. On your way down from the train station towards the river, you'll pass plenty of cool shops as well. Macon is an ideal to place to pick  up some picnic supplies from a supermarket and find a patch of green grass along the river...afternoon complete!

 

Manosque

In picture perfect Provence is the quaint town of Manosque. The train station is central here, but really you'll want to have a car for the day. Manosque is your starting point to exploring unbeatable landscapes of fields of red poppies and bright yellow sunflowers.

 

Take a day trip to the Gorge de Verdon from Manosque and you'll struggle to believe your eyes at the wonders before you. A day of climbing, hiking, and probably stumbling across a watering hole along the way to cool off in the hot Provence sun. This is the region of France to make the most of the glorious nature around you!

 

Cluny

Back to Bourgogne, Cluny is an absolute hidden delight. This quaint village has some of the most historically stunning buildings. With a Roman influence, the buildings hold so much historical wonder. The park here is a real must see as you have the chance you lounge back in the green grass while overlooking some ancient building ruins.

 

Cluny has a cute country vibe with surrounding farm fields and horses scattering the countryside. The museum is also an awesome experience here, as well as climbing the shot tower to get some serious perspective through some breathtaking views.

 

Sainte Croix

Gorgeous Provence never disappoints. Here is a town that sits right on the lakeside of the massive Lac de Sainte Croix. This amazing lake has picturesque views all around. There are great hiking trails around the region.

 

A scenic town, Sainte Croix is located at the bottom of a hill. It has a beautiful lakefront with grassy areas to enjoy. There are many water activities on offer. The town has many delicious restaurants with stunning views. 




Catherine W,

 American Village counselor and director since 2014