“Oh mon amour, you just have to visit the north of France. Paris is there, after all.”
This is how people react when you tell them you’re thinking about going to the country that is an hour’s plane ride away. No one bothers asking what you want to see or do; they simply give their two-pennies worth. Yes, Paris is the capital, home to the Eiffel Tower, and the Champagne region is a stone’s throw away, but what about the rest of the country? Doesn’t the south deserve a bit more attention?
The answer, of course, is oui. In fact, it should be bien sûr as the region has more to offer. Here are a few glimpses into why.
Sorry to be on the wrong side of the debate, but Paris isn’t as beautiful as tourists like to imagine. Yes, there is the Eiffel Tower, the Arc, and the Louvre, but there are downsides too. To begin with, it’s huge and very difficult to get around if you don’t know the city. Then, there is the fact that it’s a little dirty. Not to knock it, but it could do with a spring clean every now and again. In Saint Tropez and Provence, there are no such qualms. If anything, they are two of the most beautiful regions in the country.
Translation: beautiful beaches. There is no point going to the south of France if you aren’t going to take in the golden, sandy coastline. And, we’re not only talking about the touristy ones here or the ones Brad Pitt goes to when he’s not working. Plage des Marinières, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, is a delightful beach which isn’t too crowded yet has all the amenities. Also, there is Gruissan Plage which has a little bit extra in the form of a casino. When in Rome, people.
Because Hollywood stars frequent the Cannes Film Festival, the region is perceived as being luxurious. It is, but the prices don’t always reflect the fact. Remember that average, run of the mill families live there too, and they don’t have movie star money either. Just to prove a point, Elegant Address has a range of beautiful yet affordable holiday homes and apartments. Plus, there are always ways to keep the costs low. For example, as long as there is a kitchen, you can cook traditional French cuisine. Transport isn’t extortionate either.
Way down by Toulouse and Perpignan are the Pyrenees Mountains. The wonderful thing about this range is that it stretches the course of the Spanish border. As a result, it is only a short drive from places such as Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian to name but three. Also, the country of Andorra is even closer, and, apparently, it’s a jaw-dropping drive. The point is that if France isn’t your bag, you can nip over the border and take in the north of Spain. It’s a two-birds-with-one-stone kind of job!
So, are you still a northerner or does the sound of the south seem more appealing?