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Delightful Destinations In France You Must See

Perfectly delightful

My best holiday is to end up in a small but perfectly delightful destination – and that you get plenty of in France. Our choice destinations in France for today should whet your appetite to plan the next dream vacation.

Port Grimaud, Grimaud

Region: Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in south-eastern France.

Population: Less than 5,000.

The gorgeous village of Grimaud lies perched above the French Riviera. I just love how the boats and the houses become one. In addition, it was an absolute treat to meander through the clean streets of the village and contemplate what a peaceful lifestyle I could have living in perfectly delightful Port Grimaud. I was way too happy to just breathe Port Grimaud that I never got to do the tourist thing, which is sailing the canals aboard a “water coach” (or you can go for an electric boat if you wish).

Port Grimaud Entrance

Port Grimaud is connected to Grimaud by canals and a range of enchanting small bridges – all of which were built in 1964. For this reason, it was listed in 2002 as a 20th-century village. The architect François Spoerry is recognized for creating this lake city with private funding.

Port Grimaud France Concrete Bridge
Port Grimaud Wooden Bridge

Grimaud has historical links to Back in AD 973 Gibelin de Grimaldi helped William the Good to drive the Saracens of Fraxinet out of the area. And that’s how it came that the Grimaldi family has historical links to Grimaud because Gibelin de Grimaldi was rewarded with the land in return for his help.

  • The Gulf of Saint Tropez was known as the Gulf of Grimaud, and it is only at the end of the 19th century that it was renamed. Port Grimaud is situated at the head of the gulf.
  • The 11th-century castle is partially restored and brings that added glory to the village of days gone by.

 

Grimaud is one of those destinations in France that is worth seeing.

Saint Tropez

Inhabitants: Less than 5,000.

Nearest city: It’s only 68 km from Nice, and a great weekend get-away.

  • Just next door to Grimaud is the celeb-playground, Saint Tropez.
  • Based on lodging, Saint Tropez is the most expensive seaside resort in France.
Things to do in Saint Tropez
  • To really experience Saint Tropez in the daytime you may want to put on your walking shoes and walk the back streets.
  • Keep your camera ready!
  • Or relax at a seaside cafe and people-watch! It should not be too difficult to spot a celebrity in peak season.
  • Take a walk to view the exquisite yachts in front of Cafe de Paris.
  • Go to the Citadel of Saint Tropez, a maritime museum in an old fortress.
  • For modern art, visit the Annonciade Museum located in a former chapel.
  • For architecture take a walk to Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church of Saint Tropez.
  • For a bit of beach life and chic clubbing, you will head to Pampelonne which is a renowned Riviera beach.
  • Place des Lices is a historical landmark known for its amazing market on Saturday mornings.
FRANCE Saint Tropez Street
FRANCE Saint Tropez, travel and home
How to get to Saint Tropez

The nearest airport is Toulon-Hyères (toulon-hyeres.aeroport.fr). After that, the best is to catch a taxi for the 50-minute drive to Saint Tropez. 

If you’re looking for a cheaper form of transport to get to Saint Tropez, you can catch a bus from the airport. 

Arrive in style if you have the financial means, book a helicopter transfer.

In my view renting a car is not an option because of the traffic. Once you’ve arrived at Saint Tropez the best way to explore is by foot, or call a taxi.

Last but not least, hop on the 3003 bus at the airport and take a ferry (duration 1 hour) from St Raphaël’s Old Port to Saint Tropez. 

Mont St. Michel

Inhabitants: Less than 50.

Mont St. Michel is one of those destinations in France that movies are made from. The castle was used for the Hogwarts scenes in all of the Harry Potter movies. So, with such few inhabitants, including the monks and nuns that reside in the Abbey, there is by far more tourists than residents!

How to get to Mont St. Michel
  • The island is 340 km (4 h 10 m) from Paris.
  • A train journey will take you 3 hours 20 minutes.

It is an ideal day excursion from Paris. It is also a great setting for a wedding! 

Things to do in Mont St. Michel
  • Visit the Abbey with its spectacular gothic architecture. o wonder it was a movie set!
  • Go to Tombelaine if you’re into bird watching. This small tidal island is a bird reserve.
  • Go hiking along the coastal path and absorb the amazing views.
  • For the braver at heart, Alligator Bay is a reptile park with crocodiles and snakes.
  • The Catholic Church of Saint-Pierre is worth a visit.
  • And while you are at the Church of Saint-Pierre, just above the church is the Coffee Pot House. 
FRANCE Mont Saint Michel Cathedral Church Normandy
FRANCE Mont st michel

Châtel

Population: Less than 1,500.

Region: Upper Savoy department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.

I stumbled upon Châtel on a ski-run from Torgon in Switzerland into France, and one of the villages was this gorgeous small-town ski resort. Like so many other villages, they also have a free ski-bus to the ski-lifts. In addition, Châtel is part of the largest international linked ski area (Portes du Soleil) in the world with just more than 650 km of skiing between various French and Swiss ski resorts. Only a few kilometers from Avoriaz, it truly is a skier’s dream. Similarly, it is also a family ski-holiday dream because the slopes are of different levels of difficulty. In other words, there is something to ski for everybody.

What is Châtel known for?
  • February is usually the Starry Snows gastronomy festival. In addition, the Châtel Classic music festival and the farmers’ festival guarantees an entertained month of February.
  • March is known for its snow mountain bike competition, and the very popular Rock The Pistes festival that includes a concert on the snow.
Summer in Châtel

The towering mountains are also a favorite in summer months with activities such as paragliding, climbing, mountain biking, and climbing. 

  • The Pass’Portes du Soleil Mountain Bike Hike usually takes place end of June.
  • Come August, the village is turned into one massive festival with parades of floats and just good old fun for all.
FRANCE Chatel Madonna Christ image
Cheaper Flight Tickets to France Chatel
Châtel, perfect delight winter and summer.
FRANCE Chatel Summer Mountains
How to get to Châtel 

The nearest airport is Geneva (GVA).

I suggest you reserve a taxi ahead of time for the approximately 90-minute drive (131.3 km) from the airport to Châtel.  

There is no train service to Châtel. Should you want to take a train from Geneva Airport you will reach Aigle as your end destination. After that, you need to travel by car to Châtel, which is about a 29-minute drive (30.1 km). 

Simiane-La-Rotonde*

Inhabitants: Less than 600.

Region: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in south-eastern France.

So, ONE of the many things we do is playing treasure-hunt… finding those hidden gemsSimiane-La-Rotonde is our last stop for today’s choice of destinations in France.

With such few inhabitants, you will agree we’ve once again nailed it. 

  • Famous for its essential oils, come lavender time (last week of June to the beginning of August), you have spectacular views of the lavender fields.
  • Traces of the glass industry in the 17th century can still be seen.
  • Visit one of the oldest (dating back to at least 1031) castles in medieval Provence and see first-hand the extraordinary architectural work. The castle is usually open to visitors from March 15 to November 11 inclusive including public holidays. Discounts may apply to groups larger than 15 persons, students, and children under 12 are normally free.
  • Walk the cobbled streets.
  • Go to the 500-year old market hall.
  • Visit an exhibition or, if you visit during August (every summer) you stand to, attend an ancient music festival in the castle.
  • Visit Saint Pierre Church.

*Photos resourced from Wikimedia

In conclusion, this is our pick for today of small-town destinations in France worth seeing. I hope you had as much fun reading about it, as I had to put it together!