International travelers may prioritize visits to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre once they visit France.
But French residents produce other ideas.
Border restrictions in the course of the pandemic largely gave locals the possibility to explore their country without foreign tourists, which in 2019 numbered some 90 million.
The French didn’t squander the chance. Greater than two-thirds of French residents traveled in 2021, with 84% of France’s metropolitan residents selecting to remain throughout the country, in response to the French tourism marketing research firm Raffour Interactif.
As the will for nature and outdoor activities grew in the course of the pandemic, several areas emerged as top destinations amongst local travelers, said Maud Bailly, the CEO of southern Europe for the multinational hospitality company Accor, which has greater than 1,600 hotels in France.
Domestic travelers were drawn to the coasts of Brittany — or Bretagne in French — due to the “the ocean [and] the wideness of the landscape,” she said. The northwest province is home to charming seaside towns, comparable to Cancale and the walled port city of Saint-Malo, famous for its gastronomy and history.
Where the French travel in France
|Brittany||Saint-Malo, Cancale, Quiberon||gastronomy, wide open spaces|
|Nouvelle Aquitaine||Biarritz||seaside resorts, Basque culture|
|Cote d’Azur (French Riviera)||Cannes, Nice||nature, outdoor experiences, energetic holidays|
|Burgundy||Dijon, Beaune, Macon||gastronomy, wine|
On the southern side of the country, the famed French Riviera — notably the chic coastal areas near Cannes and Nice — attracted local visitors for a similar reasons, she said.
While Covid pummeled tourism in French Polynesia, some islands closer to the mainland drew many local tourists, said Bailly. Ile de Re, off France’s west coast, fared well due to its proximity to Paris — it’s lower than five hours away by automotive, she said — while visitors also went to the “super famous, unbelievable” island of Belle Ile within the north, in addition to Corsica within the south.
“When persons are going to Corsica … they’re texting me [saying] ‘it’s no use going to Maldives since the water looks the identical,” she said. She spoke to CNBC from the Hotel Molitor Paris-MGallery where, she said, many Parisians were having fun with staycations.
The Sofitel Golfe d’Ajaccio Thalassa Sea and Spa hotel, positioned in southern Corsica.
From skiing within the Pyrenees to diving within the Mediterranean, it’s the variety of landscapes and experiences in France — which is about twice the dimensions of Colorado — that make it so popular, said Bailly.
“I feel that the richness of this small country, with so many alternative possibilities of entertainment and holiday in just one place — is a bit unique,” she said.
Most places beloved by the French eventually change into popular with foreign tourists too, said Bailly.
But one exception, not less than for now, is the Alsace wine route.
“You may just go to Strasbourg after which start by automotive, jumping from a village to a different one and just tasting and discovering the wine, the castles … the landscapes,” she said. “It’s pretty secret.”
The small village of Dambach-la-ville, along the Alsace wine route.
Alexander Sorokopud | Moment | Getty Images
The key is out on places comparable to Beaune and Macon within the world-renowned wine region of Burgundy. Each were popular with domestic travelers last yr, she said.
Before the pandemic, nearly 60% of France’s wine tourists were domestic travelers, said Martin Lhuillier, head of wine tourism at Atout France, the country’s tourism development agency.
Considered one of his top “insider suggestions” is to go to Jura, one in all the smallest wine regions in France, to go to the village of Chateau-Chalon, he said. There, visitors can try the world’s “heart and soul” — its vin jaune, or yellow wine.
Bailly and Lhuillier each recommend the French department of Dordogne. Positioned between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, it has “unspoilt natural jewels” like Bergerac and Duras, said Lhuillier.
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Though it’s less chic than other parts of France, Dordogne is a spot “where you may really enjoy French art de vivre, gastronomy and nature,” said Bailly.
France’s “art de vivre” — literally “the art of living” — is a component of the rationale that France has for many years been amongst the preferred destinations for international travelers. The emphasis on having fun with life is omnipresent — along boulevards of Paris, throughout the rooms of the Palace of Versailles and contained in the country’s restaurants, which collectively have more Michelin stars than every other country on this planet.
But Bailly said it’s within the “more secret, discreet places” that travelers can really “rest and reconnect to the French way of life.”
One other place in Dordogne, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, is one in all the most recent villages on the list of the “most beautiful villages in France.”
The list, which began 40 years ago, names 168 villages of remarkable heritage and wonder. Each is evaluated on 30 criteria, including heritage sites and architecture in addition to smaller details comparable to hidden electrical wires. There’s lower than a 1-in-5 likelihood of creating the list, in response to the list’s website.
Southern France has the very best concentration of those villages, with greater than 75% positioned in provinces like Nouvelle Aquitaine, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur.
The tv show “Le Village Prefere des Francais” — or “The Favorite Village of the French” — also attracts visitors to lesser-known spots within the country. Fourteen villages are shortlisted annually — one in each region in France — with the winner crowned by public vote.
Last yr’s winner drew more tourists: the tiny hilltop town of Sancerre, which is one of the recognizable appellations for French Sauvignon Blanc.
The identical will likely occur for Bergheim, a village along the Alsace Wine Route, which was crowned this yr’s winner on Wednesday.
Domestic tourism to Sancerre increased in 2021, after it was voted essentially the most beautiful village in France.
Julian Elliott Photography | Stone | Getty Images
Bailly said travelers can construct a whole trip around these villages.
“It is a more private, domestic, cultural way of France,” she said. “It isn’t Saint-Tropez, it isn’t Mont Saint-Michel or Eiffel Tower, but it surely’s also France with the richness of its history.”