Where to go in France post-lockdown

Coronavirus ends is approaching shortly – In France, bars and restaurants are meant to open mid-May as well as museums. Other outdoors activities, such as hiking or kayaking will also open back in a few days.

Overall, it is a perfect time to plan a summer holidays in France and discover what our gorgeous country has to offer to its visitors beside Paris. If you wonder where to go in France after the borders opened, we compiled our favourite list of destinations below!

You can check the current status of restrictions in France in this government website.

Bordeaux and the Gironde

Bordeaux

For the past few years, Bordeaux is gaining more and more a reputation as one of the most gorgeous and entertaining French city. Its historical center, its gastronomy and the modern new attractions such as the city of wine will leave nobody indifferent. Along the bank of the Garonne, you will discover some of the most famous gems of Bordeaux such as the “Miroir d’eau” (litteraly, a mirror made of water). From there, you can stroll around the little streets, enjoy some shopping in Saint-Catherine street and spend the evening in some of the cutest and best wine bar in the world.

We cannot recommend Bordeaux without the rest of its region! Within one hour drive of Bordeaux, France’s hidden gems await: The Bassin d’Arcachon, loved by the French locals for their holidays is one of the most charming and vibrant place of France. With its Oysters, beautiful sea-sides and the highest dune in Europe (the dune of Pilat), you will definitely be charmed and understand why French love to travel in their own country.

Le Moulleau – Arcachon

Normandy – Trouville and Deauville

Normandy, famous for the D-Day is also one of the favourite destination of people visiting France. Normandy is a peaceful region, full of romantic and picturesque little villages. There are many good reasons to visit this peaceful part of France:

  • Honfleur and its harbour, one of the most romantic village of France
  • The landing beaches of the D-Day. On 6th of June 1944, what is probably the biggest ever military operation started in Normandy. American and English soldiers landed to fight against the Nazi to recover the conquered France and recover our freedom. Nowadays, every year millions of people visit those beaches to honors the soldiers who fought for freedom 70 years ago.
  • Etretat, famous all-around the world for its white cliffs. Etretat is also the home of The Hollow Needle of Arsene Lupin – a well-known place place if you watched the netflix show!
  • Mont Saint-Michel, a world famous island with a monastery. Mont Saint Michel is the 5th most visited attraction of France and we can understand why. Its gorgeous historical church and the unique island setting could probably make Mont Saint-Michel one of the 7 wonders of the world if it had been built earlier!
  • Deauville and Trouville, two of France most glamorous seaside resorts.

Brittany – the land of Legends

Located just below Normandy, Brittany and its hundreds of kilometres of wild coast offer a wild diversity of landscapes. With little bay, inhabited islands, its lakes and forests, Brittany deserved its reputation of land of Legends. It is a picturesque and magical region, offering some of the most gorgeous landscapes of France as well as cute little restaurants and mystical little villages

  • Saint-Malo, the old pirate’s lair. One must-see in Brittany, Saint-Malo is a gorgeous fortress facing the sea. There are plenty of activities to see there, such as sea museums, going to the beach… Saint-Malo is a great place to stay when you visit the region!
  • Dinan, one of the most preserved medieval city of France and it XIV century castle. Also a perfect spot to enjoy drinks in a summer evening
  • The sentier des Douaniers, for the hiker, running along the coast of Brittany for hundreds of kilometres and offering beautiful views across the wild ocean.
  • Belle-Ile-En-Mer, one of France most famous island which kept its authentic charm
  • Brocéliande forest. Amongst its mysterious trees, it is the place where many legends were born. Merlin and Arthur and the fairy Viviane

Annecy and the Savoie – for outdoors lovers

We were lucky to wander across France for many months in 2020 and we visited Annecy in May 2020 for a work-trip. We loved the city and its lake as well as the Savoie region. The mountainous landscapes of the heart of the Alps conjured with the deep blue lake are magical moment that one can remember a lifetime.

Annecy city is also very cute and historical, with many great restaurants where you can enjoy the delicious speciality of the region, the most notable one being the Fondue Savoyarde (melted cheese!).

In summer, you can swim in Annecy’s lake or explore the vicinity of the lake. Annecy and Savoie are fantastic places for outdoors lovers, with countless hikes in the Alps, paragliding, kayaking, … If you are adventurous, your holidays there will be fun!

Canal Vassé in Annecy
Annecy’s little port in spring

The Basque Country

The Basque Country, located in South-West of France at the border with Spain is a place worth exploring for outdoors lovers! In France, it is without doubt the best area to enjoy beaches and mountains at the same time. In the Basque Country, you will find very cute little villages, with the typical Basque architecture, the best surfing spots of France, delicious sea-foods and vibrant cities like Biarritz. What does make the Basque Country a perfect destination in France?

  • Saint Jean de Luz: one of the most famous and trending city of the Basque Country.
  • Guéthary: Initially an old harbour for wales fisherma – Guéthary became one of the most exciting (and expensive) sea-side resort of the region. While very busy in summer, his old style and traditional architecture remains making Guéthary a worthy stop.
  • The food: Basque food is amazing, with very various sea-foods dish as well as the world famous “poulet basquaise”, the Basque Country is filled with delicious restaurants in each village!
Guéthary
The little port of Guéthary

The perfect French island destination : Corsica

One of the French jewel. Nicknamed the island of beauty, Corsica has lot to offers. Spectacular hikes, mountains, lagoons with tropical-blue water only a couple hours flight from Paris. The best time to visit are June and September as the island will get crowded in summer. What are the best things that makes Corsica a perfect destination for a holiday in France?

  • Water-sport activities and sunbathing, being an island with gorgeous and wild beaches, Corsica is perfect for the watersports activity. Our favourite place being Saint Cyprien bay. It is also possible to do rafting and canyoning with expert guides.
  • Hike in the Corsican Mountains. The most famous walk of Corsica, the GR20 attracts hikers from all around the world and is reputated for being quite a quite difficult but beautiful 7 days walk. If you do not feel like hiking for 7 days, the island offers tons of very diverse and easier walk.
  • Try the traditional food, notably the sea-foods and their cheeses (be careful – some are quite strong). Corsica also have very great beers and taverns.
Our video – Corsica by Drone

Lyon

Lyon, the new eldorado for Parisian exiles. Lyon is a fancy town with many amazing restaurants. It is often considered as the capital of French Gastronomy, notably thanks to the now deceased Paul Bocuse whose legacy remains. We recommend Lyon if you are looking for an alternative less busy and stressful than Paris. Lyon is also relatively close-by the Alps and can be a great stop on a road-trip to Annecy.

If you like culture, you will not be disappointed as Lyon is home to many museums and also have beautiful architecture. A few things you should visit while on vacation to Lyon:

  • The Parc de la Tête d’Or, and its zoo, a few minutes away from the city center for an afternoon in the park
  • The “Vieux Lyon”, the old historical center of Lyon and its traditional restaurants, the Bouchons Lyonnais.
  • The museum of Confluence, one of the biggest Anthropology museum in the world with a very unique architecture
View over the Vieux Lyon
View over the Vieux Lyon

We hope that you will love those suggestions for a vacation in France post-covid. We wish you the best travel!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Nilsson
    May 3, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Sign me up! I can’t wait to go back to France. My very favorite little hidden gem is a chalet in the Saint-Martin-le-Beau in the Loire Valley. But I need to get to Basque Country and Lyon, too! Thank you for the tips!

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 4, 2021 at 7:09 am

      Thank you Jennifer! The Loire Valley should definitely be part of this list as well! We have not gone there often enough to write about it, but is is lovely.

  • Reply
    Chalk and Cheese Travels
    May 4, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    Have always wanted to go to Lyon and eat in the restaurants it doesn’t get much better than there. Bordeaux also seems lovely.

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 4, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      Bordeaux is also amazing for restaurant, it has more restaurant per capita than anywhere else in France and they are good! 🙂

  • Reply
    Carina | bucketlist2life
    May 4, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    This is exactly the kind of content I need right now – off the beaten path travel destinations for after COVID. Can’t decide which one to put on my bucketlist first – Bordeaux? Corsica? Annecy?

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 4, 2021 at 8:05 pm

      It depends on what you like – my absolute favourite would be Corsica for summer, because it’s a great mix of sea and mountains.
      We have been there the last couple of years and enjoying activties like canyoning as well as discovering the coast with a boat trip, kayaking in the open sea or just enjoying good times at the beautiful beaches.

      If you like city more, Bordeaux and its region is also perfect, probably our favourite French city! The region nearby with its vineyard is gorgeous and if you are a wine amateur, it’s definitely worth a stop even if just to visit some of the world’s famous domains from there.

  • Reply
    Tommy Sikes
    May 4, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Our favorite area was Dordogne. Stayed in Sarlat-la-Caneda and canoed the river. So many medieval towns, vineyards, castles and culture!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and drone footage.

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 4, 2021 at 8:03 pm

      Thank you Tommy! We are glad you like the article and the drone footage.
      Dordogne is gorgeous too, we will write an article about it too. The rest of the region and places like Saint-Cirq-Lapoppie or Rocamadour are also part of our favourite villages in France.

  • Reply
    SteveH
    May 4, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    We haven’t visited France yet…I know that sounds crazy when I type or say it aloud but you’ve given us so many reason to plan a trip to France next summer.

  • Reply
    travelbyexample
    May 4, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Nice list, there is so much to see in France! Can’t wait when travel reopens again 🙂

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 10, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      Thank you! We cannot wait as well (but to leave France this year!)

  • Reply
    Wendy | Perthtravelers
    May 5, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I just want to visit all these places in France. I’ve been to a few towns but there is still so many more I want to see. Annecy, Corsica and Bordeaux are top of my list.

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 10, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Thank you Wendy! I hope you will be able to visit soon

  • Reply
    jansevilla
    May 5, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    With so many places to visit and rediscover, I am itching to travel soon. I have been eyeing Mont Saint Michel, St. Malo and The Basque – places that take both breath and the imagination captive #flyingbaguette

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      May 10, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Great list indeed! I hope you will be able to travel soon, the country is re-opening now progressively so you should be able to visit soon 🙂

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