So you’ve decided to come to Paris but want to see another part of France, too. People often ask me where to go. No harder question could be asked or answered, as there is something special in every region and every corner of the country. Here are some of the best French trips and ways to travel through other parts of France, which make great three-night or one-week trips before or after your time in Paris.
Taking a trip on one of France’s rivers or canals can be a dream come true. Far from the massive cruise ships, a canal boat is intimate and affords you the chance to slow down and enjoy the pace of yesteryear. Most of the canals have locks, so there is a lot of stopping, and you have the unique ability to get off pretty much whenever you want, and see the countryside or bike alongside the canal as the boat continues. My dream is to go down the Canal du Midi one day, which stretches from Toulouse to the Mediterranean.
Of course you can cruise right out of Paris on the Seine, and Burgundy is a perennial favorite—wine tasting and floating down the river on a summer’s day go hand in hand. And traveling on a small boat is the perfect chance to meet people along the way. Having taken a small boat with my husband, I learned that this was the aspect of “cruising” that I liked the most. We trust Beth at Canal Barge Cruises to put together the best itineraries for France.
For the ultimate VIP experience, turn to Manuel de Croutte at Exclusive & Private. He can create a bespoke itinerary for you that might include a trip to the Loire Valley region, where you’ll visit a private château that is not open to the general public, and then lunch with the owner after triping his heirloom tomato garden. Monsieur de Croutte seems to have friends everywhere, and he taps into them and their hosting capabilities around the country. Berry, where he is from, is one of his favorite regions, as is Basque Country.
Wine tasting is one of the activities for which France is most famous, and there is no better person to turn to than Pascale at French Wine Explorers. This French wine company frequently wins awards and is largely considered the best of its kind in France. It also now has a Paris-Bordeaux itinerary to which I’m partial. You’ll enjoy luxury at pretty affordable prices: you’ll stay in Relais & Châteaux–level hotels and savor the best first and second growth Bordeaux. For the Paris end of the trip, you’ll enjoy some of the best wine bars and a trip to the Champagne region to taste some bubbly.
What about slipping away for a special weekend in Venice or, closer by, in Versailles? I highly recommend attending the masked ball in Versailles at the end of June. I’ll be joining my business development director, Kittie, this June, and we hope to have a crowd. Send us an e-mail at [email protected]
Turn to Eva Eriksson if you are interested in going to special events in France or farther afield, such as the masked balls in Venice during Carnival or the balls in Vienna during December. Paris and France as well as the rest of Europe hold many wonders to be discovered. I’ve been traveling around France and beyond for more than 30 years, and I am continually awed at the sights I discover. While I recommend traveling all over, you could spend a lifetime discovering France and never, ever tire of discovering her secrets.
Canal Barge Cruises
Exclusive & Private Trips
French Wine Explorers
Eva Eriksson Events
Masked Ball at Versailles