Your own private France: Take the road less traveled


When people think about exploring France, her most famous destinations often come to mind: Paris, Nice, Grenoble, Cannes, Monaco, Lyon, the French Alps, Normandy, Bordeaux, Marseille, La Côte d’Azur, and so on. But I have been fortunate enough to discover some tinier towns, off the beaten path, that have that a special French charm.

In the North

There lies a pleasant little town about an hour’s drive from Normandy with everything you need for a cozy weekend away.


The center of Dinan is beautifully crafted and packed with boutiques and shops, as well as a daily market offering some of the best local produce I’ve tasted.

Dinan is only half an hour away from the more touristy town of Saint Malo, so if you’re in the mood for delicious seafood, a day at the beach or sight-seeing at the famous walled-city, you’re close enough to do so.

During the holiday season, Dinan is decked out in stunning white lights and the magic of this little town is all the more evident.

In the South

The town of Tarbes is a short distance from the border of Spain, and surrounded by the Pyrenées Mountains.The slower pace of the south of France influences the lifestyle here. The town is perfectly constructed for leisurely shopping excursions, drinks at a café, and meandering along the side streets that twist and turn leading towards the center and its train station.


Hop in a car and you can head to any of the mountain villages to hear the bells of cows, as they lazily graze at a distance and to look down on the region from up on high. There’s no shortage of enchanting sites to see here, and relaxation can be exercised in abundance.


For all the explorers out there who have traversed this diverse country: what are some of the lesser known areas that you’ve come to love?

About the Contributor

Nikki Lavoie

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  1. Emmanuelle Tremolet Oct 2, 2012 at 12:32 PM - Reply

    Ce qui fait la beauté de la France c’est sa diversité ! Merci Nikki

    The beauty of France is his diversity ! Thank you Nikki

  2. Kah Kit Yoong Oct 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM - Reply

    Great choices. Dinan is one of my favourites. A great place to spend a quiet few days.

  3. Nikki Lavoie Oct 11, 2012 at 12:14 AM - Reply

    Merci, mesdames! 🙂

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