Where do the French travel in France? Cote d’Azur Burgundy Brittany

Foreign travelers may choose to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre when they visit France.

But the people of France have other ideas.

Border restrictions during the pandemic have largely given locals the opportunity to explore their country without foreign tourists, who numbered about 90 million in 2019.

The French did not miss the opportunity. According to French tourism marketing research firm Raffour Interactif, more than two-thirds of French residents traveled in 2021, with 84% of French metropolitan residents choosing to stay in the country.

Popular destinations

Where the French travel in France

Region Location Per
Brittany Saint Malo, Cancale, Quiberon gastronomy, wide open spaces
New Aquitaine Biarritz seaside resorts, Basque culture
Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) Cannes, Nice nature, outdoor recreation, active recreation
Burgundy Dijon, Beaune, Macon gastronomy, wine
Source: Accor

Source: Accor

The famous French Riviera in the south of the country, especially the chic coastal areas near Cannes and Nice, attracts local visitors for the same reasons, she said.

Bye Covid hit tourism in French PolynesiaSome islands closer to the mainland have attracted many local tourists, Bayi said. The Île de Ré, off the west coast of France, thrived because of its proximity to Paris — less than five hours away by car, she said — while visitors also made their way to the “super-famous, fantastical” Isle of Belle. -Ile in the north. as well as Corsica in the south.

“When people go to Corsica… they write to me [saying] “It is useless to go to the Maldives because the water looks the same,” she said. She spoke to CNBC from the Molitor Paris-MGallery hotel, where she said many Parisians enjoyed their holidays.

The Sofitel Golfe d’Ajaccio Thalassa Sea and Spa is located in the south of Corsica.

Source: Accor

From skiing in the Pyrenees Compared to diving in the Mediterranean, it’s the variety of scenery and experiences in France, which is about twice the size of Colorado, that makes it so popular, Bailly said.

“I think the richness of this small country with so many different things to do in one place is a bit unique,” ​​she said.

Secrets and “little pearls”

According to Bailly, most of the places loved by the French eventually become popular with foreign tourists.

But one exception, at least for now, is Alsace wine route.

“You can just drive to Strasbourg and then start by car, hopping from one village to another and just tasting and discovering wine, castles… landscapes,” she said. “It’s pretty secret.”

The small village of Dambach-la-Ville, located on the Alsace wine route.

Alexander Sorokopud | Moment | Getty Images

The secret is revealed in places like Beaune and Macon in the world famous Burgundy wine region. Both were popular with domestic travelers last year, she said.

Before the pandemic, almost 60% of wine tourists in France were domestic travelers, said Martin Lullier, head of wine tourism at Atout France, the country’s tourism development agency.

According to him, one of his main “insider tips” is to visit the Jura, one of the smallest wine regions in France, and visit the village of Château-Chalon. There, visitors can taste the “heart and soul” of the area – its yellow wineor yellow wine.

Bailly and Lhuillier recommend the French department of Dordogne. Nestled between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, Lullier says it has “untouched natural gems” such as Bergerac and Duras.

Read more about traveling in France and Italy

While it’s less posh than other parts of France, the Dordogne is a place “where you can really enjoy the French art of living, gastronomy and nature,” Bailly said.

The French “art de vivre” – literally “the art of living” – is one of the reasons France has been one of the most popular destinations for international travelers for decades. The emphasis on enjoying life is ubiquitous—on the boulevards of Paris, in the halls of the Palace of Versailles, and in the restaurants of a country that collectively has more Michelin stars than any other country in the world.

But Bailly said it was in “more secret and secluded places” that travelers could “relax and reconnect with the French way of life”.

“Most beautiful” villages

Another location in the Dordogne, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is one of the newest villages on the list”the most beautiful villages in France.”

The list, launched 40 years ago, includes 168 villages of exceptional heritage and beauty. Each is judged against 30 criteria, including heritage sites and architecture, as well as smaller details such as hidden electrical wires. According to the list’s website, the chance of being listed is less than 1 in 5.

The south of France has the highest concentration of these villages, over 75% of which are located in the provinces of New-Aquitaine, Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

The TV show “Le Village Prefere des Francais” – or “French’s Favorite Village” – also draws visitors to lesser-known parts of the country. Each year, the shortlist includes fourteen villages – one in each region of France – the winner is determined by a public vote.

Last year’s winner attracted more tourists: The tiny hilltop town of Sancerre, which is one of the most recognizable names for French Sauvignon Blanc.

The same is likely to happen for Bergheima village along the Alsatian wine route, which was voted this year’s winner on Wednesday.

Domestic tourism to Sancerre has increased in 2021 after being voted the most beautiful village in France.

Julian Elliot Photography | Stone | Getty Images

Bayi said that travelers can build an entire trip around these villages.

“It’s a more private, domestic, cultural take on France,” she said. “This is not Saint-Tropez, this is not Mont Saint-Michel or the Eiffel Tower, but this is also France with its rich history.”

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