International visitors may prioritize visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum when they visit France.
But French residents have a different opinion.
Border restrictions during the pandemic have given locals the chance to explore their country without foreign tourists, which in 2019 was around 90 million.
The French did not squander the opportunity. More than two-thirds of French residents have traveled by 2021, with 84% of France’s urban residents choosing to stay in the country, according to French tourism marketing research firm Raffour Interactif.
Maud Bailly, Managing Director of Southern Europe for the multinational hotel company Accor, which has more than 1,600 hotels in France, said:
Domestic tourists are drawn to the shores of Brittany – or Brittany in French – because of the “sea [and] She said. The northwest province is home to charming seaside towns, such as Cancale and the walled port city of Saint-Malo, renowned for their food and history.
In the south of the country, the popular French Riviera – especially the posh coastal areas near Cannes and Nice – attract local visitors for similar reasons, she said.
While Vibrant tourism in French PolynesiaBailly said some islands close to the mainland have attracted many local tourists. Ile de Re, off France’s west coast, does well because of its proximity to Paris – less than five hours by car, she said – while visitors have also been to the “super popular, amazing” island Belle Ile to the north, as well as Corsica to the south.
“When people come to Corsica… they’re texting me [saying] She told CNBC from Hotel Molitor Paris-MGallery, where many Parisians like to stay.
Hotel Sofitel Golfe d’Ajaccio Thalassa Sea and Spa, located south of Corsica.
Are from skiing in the Pyrenees For diving in the Mediterranean, it’s the diversity of landscapes and experiences in France — which is twice the size of Colorado — that has made it so popular, Bailly said.
“I believe the wealth of this small country, with so many different recreational and resort possibilities in just one place – is a bit unique,” she said.
Most of the places beloved by the French eventually become popular with foreign tourists, says Bailly.
But the one exception, at least for now, is Alsace wine road.
“You can just go to Strasbourg and then start by car, hop from village to village, tasting and discovering wine, castles… scenery,” she says. “It’s pretty secretive.”
The small village of Dambach-la-ville, along the Alsace wine road.
Alexander Sorokopud | Moment | beautiful pictures
The secret is out in places like Beaune and Macon in the world-famous wine region of Burgundy. Both were popular with domestic tourists last year, she said.
Martin Lhuillier, head of alcohol tourism at Atout France, the country’s tourism development agency, said that before the pandemic, nearly 60 percent of France’s wine tourists were domestic.
One of his top “insider tips,” he says, is to go to Jura, one of the smallest wine-producing regions in France, to visit the village of Chateau-Chalon. There, visitors can try the “heart and soul” of the area – vin jauneor golden wine.
Bailly and Lhuillier both recommended the French Department of Dordogne. Located between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, it has “pristine natural gems” like Bergerac and Duras, Lhuillier said.
Although it’s less luxurious than other parts of France, Dordogne is a place “where you can really enjoy the French art of living, food and nature,” says Bailly.
France’s “Art de vivre” – literally “art of living” – is part of the reason why France has for decades consistently been among the most popular destinations for international visitors. The emphasis on enjoying life is ubiquitous – along the boulevards of Paris, in the rooms of the Palace of Versailles and inside the country’s restaurants, places with more Michelin stars than any other country any in the world.
But Bailly said it’s in the “more secluded, secret” places that visitors can really “rest and reconnect with the French way of life.”
Another place in Dordogne, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, is one of the newest villages on the list.”The most beautiful villages in France. “
The list, which began 40 years ago, names 168 villages of exceptional beauty and heritage. Each building was evaluated on 30 criteria, including heritage and architecture as well as smaller details like hidden wires. According to the website of the list, there is less than 1 in 5 chance of making it to the list.
The south of France is home to the largest concentration of these villages, with more than 75% located in the provinces of Nouvelle Aquitaine, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur.
The TV show “Le Village Prefere des Francais” – or “The French’s favorite village” – also draws visitors to lesser-known spots in the country. Fourteen villages are shortlisted each year – one in each region in France – with the winner being crowned by public vote.
Last year’s winner attracted more tourists: the small hilltop town of Sancerre, is one of the most recognizable appellations of France’s Sauvignon Blanc.
The same thing could happen to Bergheima village along the Alsace Wine Road, which was crowned this year’s winner on Wednesday.
Domestic tourism to Sancerre increases in 2021, after it was voted the most beautiful village in France.
Julian Elliott Photography | Stone | beautiful pictures
Bailly says tourists can build an entire trip around these villages.
“It is a more personal, domestic and cultural view of France,” she said. “It’s not Saint-Tropez, it’s not Mont Saint-Michel or the Eiffel Tower, it’s France with a long history.”