While most first-time visitors to France head for Paris, experienced travelers appreciate the diverse French tourism regions outside its capital city. Below find information on the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of France. To learn more, visit the Web site of the French tourism regions you are interested in.
EASTERN FRANCE: THE ABCs
At the medieval crossroads of Europe, the ABCs--Alsace, Burgundy, and Champagne-Ardenne--are French tourism regions dotted with storybook villages and historic cities. If forested landscapes, treasure-laden museums, centuries-old châteaux, and superlative food and wine appeal, put these scenic French tourism regions on your itinerary.
ALSACE. Experience this area near Germany's border by driving La Route des Crêtes, which is interspersed with well-marked hiking trials. The auto route winds though the Vosge mountains and into towns celebrated for their wine and food. Pause for a paté or sample the famous cheese at Münster, and complement it with local Kronenbourg beer or a Riesling wine.
Unforgettable Memories in Eastern France
- Touring the 13th-century High Gothic cathedral in Reims, whose façade contains more than 2,300 saintly statues
- Learning to drive a Formula 3 training car on the F1 Grand Prix circuit
- Antiquing along Colmar's rue des Marchands
- Savoring escargot, beef bourguignonne, andcoq au vin in Burgundy
- Wine-tasting at Domaines Schlumberger, founded 1810
- Hot-air ballooning over rolling hills dotted with ancient castles and churches
BURGUNDY. For a relaxing respite, cruise the canals and waterways of Burgundy on a barge as comfortable as a luxury hotel. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as you sail past picturesque hamlets at 5 mph. Or hop off and take a bike ride or walking tour that leads to a lush vineyard where you can sample the wines of this world-famous French tourism region.
CHAMPAGNE-ARDENNE. The 78-mile-long Routes de Champagne from Reims to Verdun encompasses the three wine-growing regions responsible for 80 percent of the world's Champagne. Visitors who can't get enough of the bubbly can also enjoy it in local dishes simmered in Champagne sauce and at sweets shops selling Champagne-filled chocolate corks in this French tourism region.
Eastern France Chateaux
WESTERN FRANCE: ATLANTIC ANTICS
There's a wonderfully relaxing way to see this verdant French tourism region, which is edged by the Atlantic Ocean. With Rail Europe's Rail'n'Drive plan, you can take a high-speed TGV or classic train to your destination, then pick up a rental car at the station and explore at your leisure.
NORMANDY. Beaches and gardens, parks and cathedrals, marinas and golf courses all give lovers pause here. Whether on a guided tour or on your own, you'll want to visit WWII-famous Omaha Beach, where American servicemen valiantly fought on D-Day.
Don't-miss stops offering free samples include Palais Bénédictine, the Calvados distillery, and Camembert factories. And if you can steal away from the seaside pleasures of Deauville and Trouville and the picturesque Norman countryside, visit the walled island of Mont St-Michel on the border of Normandy and Brittany. Between high and low tides, water levels vary by as much as 50 feet.
Unforgettable Memories in Western France
- Walking the beaches at Normandy where Allied armies fought for freedom
- Savoring Camembert cheese in the town where it got its name
- Strolling exquisite gardens at Giverny and the Rouen Cathedral that inspired Monet
- Attending the medieval spectacle known as La Cinéscénie, in Vendée
- Roaming Caen's affecting Le Mémorial, a museum commemorating peace
- Toasting one another with genuine French Champagne at Disneyland Paris