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France Touring

France is such a varied country that we can only give an glimpse based on our travels in recent years. We have toured through many regions and Departments which are detailed in the links below. We have also visited Britanny, the Morvan and Yonne areas a few more years ago. We have highlighted some of the smaller "undiscovered" places that we have happened across sometimes by accident when getting lost along the maze of D roads.

Find out about our travels....

2016 tour Normandy to the Pyrenees and back via the Massive Central

2015 tour Back from Italy via the Alps and centre

2014 tour   Through Limousin and Loire on way back from Spain

2013 tour  To the Cote d'Azur and back via the Auvergne

2011 tour  A few days travelling via Giverny and Paris to the Spanish border

2010 tour  Just around France - to the Med and Brittany

2009 tour   Jura and Doubs, (Switzerland Italian Lakes), Savoie Alps, Cantal and Auvergne

2007 tour    Western France, the Pyrenees and Northern Spain   

2006 tour   Queyras, Southern Alps, Provence as part of a round trip to Slovenia

2005 tour    Auvergne, Cevennes, Cote d'Azur, (Italy) Alps, Jura, Vosges and Alsace

2002 tour    Provence, Camargue and Dordogne  

2001 tour    Bourgogne, Alps and Drôme regions

Regional Photo Guides
Queyras   Southern Alps    Provence

Vosges & Alsace  Franche-Comte

  Drome  Isere  Bourgogne  Yonne  Var  Camargue 

Read about the amazing Palais Ideal at Hauterives near Valence (Drôme) 
Other Amazing sights in France

 click here for Guidebooks

Northern France
Although the countryside appears rather flat with rolling hills there are some interesting places we have discovered, often tucked away towns and villages. Rocroi, a fortified town near the Belgian border is worth an overnight stay. Further east are the Vosges mountains, mainly wooded but there are some small resorts and interesting scenery. Take a short pause in St Die where le Corbusier lived, before driving over the Vosges mountains via the Ste Marie pass to the Alsace region. Not difficult driving and there are fine views down to the Rhine valley and the tourist town of Riquewhir among the vineyards, where there's a shop selling Christmas decorations all year.  

Rocroi entrance
Entrance to Rocroi

Yonne and Burgundy
Druyes les Belles Fontaines is a delightful serene village with sparkling clear millponds and a chateau on the hillside. There is a shady aire de pique-nique on the hillside just past the ponds. Nearby is St.Fargeau where there is a large Son et Lumiere event during August and the Reservoir du Bourdon with pleasant wooded parking areas. This little toured area known as la Puisaye is between the Loire and Burgundy and has some surprises including a complete rebuilding of a medieval chateau by traditional methods at Guedelon.  

Visited in 2001 and  2005

Druyes les Belles Fontaines
Druyes les Belles Fontaines - Yonne

Gorges du Tarn and the Causses
Ispagnac at the eastern end of the Tarn Gorge has a pretty old village centre worth visiting on foot from the campsites nearby. The old streets have been restored and there are some charming houses and lanes. Its best to take the gorge road in a west to east direction to avoid the overhanging rocks. Take the road north from La Malene up to the Causse de Sauveterre and west to the Point Sublime for fantastic views. In this "wild" countryside we came across a local village football pitch complete with advertising signs in the middle of nowhere!

Visited in 2002

Ispagnac flowers
Ispagnac flowers

Where does one start to describe the wonderful picturesque places and magnificent scenery of this region of France? It has a distinctive Mediterranean feel that has made it such a popular area yet we have found many small villages and tucked away places not far from the busy towns and cities of the Rhône where you can be alone. There are extensive vistas of lavender fields, rough countryside, mountains lakes and gorges. It is best to avoid the overcrowded coastal strip especially in high season of July and August, but a few miles inland is a different world of shady town squares with their fountains and colourful markets.

Visited in 2002 and 2006

Pont du Garde
Pont du Garde

The Pyrenees
The mountain range separating France from Spain has a different character on the French side and we found it more accessible.

Starting from the western end south of Biarritz, the Basque region has a unique feel with distinctive buildings and people including many men wearing berets not just for the tourists. A trip up the La Rhune cog railway is worthwhile on a clear day, and the Cirque de Gavarnie is unmissable. Further to the east is the Cathar country with many castles and long climbing roads over the hills around Andorra and down to the coast at the artists' town of Collioure

Visited in 2007   2016


Cirque de Gavarnie
Cirque de Gavarnie

We have used several guidebooks over the years but our old favourites for finding places off the beaten track are "Hidden France" and being an avid map reader especially the Michelin road atlases, "Mapaholics France" by Richard Binns* (which is available now as a download in pdf from his website - see link below) and also 
"Exploring Rural France" by Andrew Sanger.

Another well used book is Footpaths of France by Michael Marriott (Crowood Press 1990)

Another guide that travels with us if there is space is "Secret France" published by the AA a few years ago but occasionally seen in discount bookshops. Also we use various Michelin Green Guides covering the areas of France (some only available in French) but these tend to have more details on historic buildings rather than countryside.

Link to Richard Binns website 
* Richard died in December 2006 after a long illness but was still able to tour and write useful and informative travel guides until early in 2006. We found his guides an inspiration for us to turn off along many side roads to find hidden gems in France

Link to Andrew Sanger website

Please contact us using the feedback link if you would like more details of places we have visited.

updated 23 Dec 2016

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