Travel

France's Under-the-Radar Destinations You Didn't Know About

Paris is great and all, but it's time to explore
Where to Visit in France Besides Paris
Photo: bbsferrari/Getty Images

Like many others before me, I fell in love with France long before I ever visited. Maybe it's the language, maybe it's the bread—whatever it is, France has an elusive magic that makes it the most visited country in the world year after year. For first-timers, Paris is a must. But while it is indeed every bit as magical as you think it'll be, it's not the only place in France worth visiting. Each region is stunning in its own way, so if you're looking to venture outside the City of Light, here are a few places you could start.

Dana deLaski is a freelance writer, photographer and videographer based in New York City. Follow her on Instagram at @dana_delaski.

  • Marseille

    France's oldest and second most populated city has had a rocky past, but in recent years, the city has been largely rebuilt and revitalized, and it's more alive than ever. One of the country's most diverse communities, Marseille has African, Middle Eastern and Italian influences that makes it an incredibly unique—not to mention downright delicious—city to explore. While you can—and should—stick to Provençal classics like bouillabaisse and ratatouille, no trip to the region would be complete without Moroccan couscous, mint tea or an unexpectedly perfect Neapolitan pizza.

    Photo: SimonSkafar/Getty Images

  • Île de Ré

    A small island off France's western coast, Île de Ré is known for one thing: oysters. To experience the island at its best, rent a bike and hit the road, stopping along the way at cabanes, small shacks that sell oysters and wine, and enjoying your spoils on the picnic tables outside. Île de Ré is a vacation destination for Parisians, and everything runs on island time. Don't plan to do much other than sleep in, wander picturesque waterfront promenades and drink wine—proof, yet again, the French really know how to vacation.

    Photo: David Henderson/Getty Images

  • Rennes

    Located in the northwest region of Brittany, Rennes feels like a world away from the lavender fields and luxury yachts of the French Riviera. It can be chilly and rainy up north, making it the perfect place to dig into some of the region's comfort foods—like a warm cheesy galette or a buttery kouign-amann. Speaking of butter, Brittany is known for having the best in the world, so be sure to spread plenty of it atop crusty baguettes. And finally, once you've had your fill of French wines—hard to imagine, we know—try cider, an area speciality.

    Photo: Henryk Sadura/Getty Images

  • Biarritz

    Biarritz is tucked into the southwesternmost corner of France in Basque Country, a region that's widely credited with some of the best food on earth, thanks to its top-notch ingredients and delightfully unfussy preparations. You'll find tiny salty anchovies, umami-rich cured pork, and lots and lots of olive oil in this stylish seaside resort town, which has just the right mix of jet-setter glam and beach bum vibes. Once you've fully digested, work it off by surfing the waves: Biarritz is true a surfer's paradise.

    Photo: bbsferrari/Getty Images

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