The city of love and art, the home of the Eiffel Tower, Paris is the ultimate destination for travellers from all over the globe since several centuries. France as an entire nation has been charming enough to attract people with rich, historical culture, artistic vibes and just the quintessential French experience in its streets. But France is not all about Paris. There are several other smaller yet beautiful settlements to explore and have a blast. If you are heading for a trip to France, then obviously Paris would be the first name ticked off your travel list,but if you have time, you can always head to new places. These are the weekend getaways from Paris.
Top 4 Most Popular Weekend Getaways from Paris, France
Old but gold, that’s how one can describe the township of Honfleur. You might not know the place’s name,but it has been immortalized on more than one occasion by several Impressionist artists like Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet. Where to head out now? You can start your trip with the magnificent St. Catherine’s Church. The spot has a Gothic feel to it and has the distinction of being the largest wooden church made in France. Various aspects of the church from the arches to the doorways have been rebuilt and adapted over the years. For this reason, this architectural marvel is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance art styles. To gaze at picturesque houses, you can head out on a tier and sail on small ships for some time. And probably end the night with a sip of Normandy wine after your meal at La Cave Normande which boasts of a grand collection of French spirits.
Distance from the main city: 119 miles (2 hours 11 minutes)
Best time to visit: May and October
Places to stay: Campanile Honfleur, La Maison de la Plague, Tulip Inn, La Maison de Lucie
The wheels of the car, the bus, the cycles, every transport goes round and round at Le Mans, the destination of the famous Le Mans race which takes annually. So if you are a motorsports aficionado, then Le Mans is a holy city. It is highly advisable to plan your visit when these races are taking place. Apart from car racing, the city got a great cycling background too. After all, it lies in the country that hosts the Tour de France. It is a cinematic location,and many French and Hollywood films shot on the tracks at Le Mans bear testimony to this. Apart from fulfilling your need for speed, you can also head to several cathedrals with towering arches and exquisite detailing. A popular one is the Cathedral St Julien honouring the first bishop of Le Mans which has a robust Catholic nature. A delicacy to be tried out here is a dish made out of pork called rilletes. Although rillettes can also be made from goose and fish, the pork version is the speciality at Le Mans. It can be eaten as a gooey dish on its own or as a spread with bread.
Distance from the main city: 128 miles (2 hours 08 minutes)
Best time to visit: June-October
Places to stay: Novotel Le Mans, Hotel de La Pommeraie, La Mancelle, Les Cabanes de Do
Fortress Royale de Chinon
The beauty of visiting most of the European countries is to hang around in a medieval castle. And the grandest and most exciting of these walled structures in France is the Fortress Royale de Chinon. The possession of this castle has changed hands many a time from King Henry II of England to King Philip II of France. It was even a prison at one pointin time and now has become a major historical monument and museum. Located on the banks of the Vienne river, it is a must visit place if you are driving out of Paris. There are guided tours in the castle and soothing bicycle tours for the gardens and lawns in the surrounding area. With houses built in the medieval style and pubs and wine centres adorned with old barrels, a tripto the Fortress Royale de Chinon is a sight to soothe sore eyes indeed.
Distance from the main city: 177 miles (3 hours)
Best time to visit: May to October
Places to stay: Hotel Au Sans Souci, Hotel Agnes Sorel, Le Clos Saint-Etienne, Belle Epoque
Mont Saint Michel
Normandy in France is renowned be it because of World War missions or its beaches. Inside Normandy is a wonder which the French call Mont Saint Michel. It is a tiny island and houses just about 40 residents according to last updated statistics. That does not mean it is an empty wasteland as approximately 3 million tourists pay this place a visit every year! There is a lot to do out here. You can appreciate old architecture and tapestry and weapons right from a period starting from the 8th century. As Mont Saint Michel is an island, the waters surrounding it add to the scenic quality. There is an alligator and snakes park if spending time with reptiles is your thing. Mont Saint Michel had a significant abbey and monastery after which the town has been named.
Distance from the main city: 176 miles (2 hours 58 minutes)
Best time to visit: November to March (least crowded)
Places to stay: Le Relais Saint Michel, Hotel Gabriel, Hotel Du Guesclin, La Vieille Auberge
So these are some memorable places you can visit to enhance your “French Connection”. These weekend getaways are bound to raise your spirits (both metaphorically and literally if you are a person with fine wine tastes) and fill your soul with a feeling of contentment and peace. Try reaching these places by car or a train from Paris but once you reach these getaways, just get away from the automobiles. Take a walk as the streets are well-lined and devoid of busy traffic and it also allows you to feel the essence of the minute details of French culture. Happy travels ahead and Viva La France!