International vacationers might prioritize visits to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre after they go to France.
But French residents produce other concepts.
Border restrictions throughout the pandemic largely gave locals the possibility to discover their nation with out international vacationers, which in 2019 numbered some 90 million.
The French didn’t squander the chance. More than two-thirds of French residents traveled in 2021, with 84% of France’s metropolitan residents selecting to remain inside the nation, in accordance with the French tourism advertising analysis agency Raffour Interactif.
As the will for nature and outside actions grew throughout the pandemic, a number of areas emerged as high locations amongst native vacationers, mentioned Maud Bailly, the CEO of southern Europe for the multinational hospitality firm Accor, which has greater than 1,600 accommodations in France.
Domestic vacationers had been drawn to the coasts of Brittany — or Bretagne in French — due to the “the sea [and] the wideness of the landscape,” she mentioned. The northwest province is dwelling to charming seaside cities, comparable to Cancale and the walled port metropolis of Saint-Malo, well-known for its gastronomy and historical past.
On the southern aspect of the nation, the famed French Riviera — notably the stylish coastal areas close to Cannes and Nice — attracted native guests for a similar causes, she mentioned.
While Covid pummeled tourism in French Polynesia, some islands nearer to the mainland drew many native vacationers, mentioned Bailly. Ile de Re, off France’s west coast, fared nicely due to its proximity to Paris — it is lower than 5 hours away by automotive, she mentioned — whereas guests additionally went to the “super famous, fantastic” island of Belle Ile within the north, in addition to Corsica within the south.
“When people are going to Corsica … they’re texting me [saying] ‘it’s no use going to Maldives because the water looks the same,” she mentioned. She spoke to CNBC from the Hotel Molitor Paris-MGallery the place, she mentioned, many Parisians had been having fun with staycations.
The Sofitel Golfe d’Ajaccio Thalassa Sea and Spa lodge, positioned in southern Corsica.
From snowboarding within the Pyrenees to diving within the Mediterranean, it is the variety of landscapes and experiences in France — which is about twice the dimensions of Colorado — that make it so in style, mentioned Bailly.
“I believe that the richness of this small country, with so many different possibilities of entertainment and holiday in only one place — is a bit unique,” she mentioned.
Secrets and ‘little gems’
Most locations beloved by the French ultimately turn into in style with international vacationers too, mentioned Bailly.
But one exception, a minimum of for now, is the Alsace wine route.
“You can just go to Strasbourg and then start by car, jumping from a village to another one and just tasting and discovering the wine, the castles … the landscapes,” she mentioned. “It’s pretty secret.”
The small village of Dambach-la-ville, alongside the Alsace wine route.
Alexander Sorokopud | Moment | Getty Images
The secret is out on locations comparable to Beaune and Macon within the world-renowned wine area of Burgundy. Both had been in style with home vacationers final 12 months, she mentioned.
Before the pandemic, practically 60% of France’s wine vacationers had been home vacationers, mentioned Martin Lhuillier, head of wine tourism at Atout France, the nation’s tourism improvement company.
One of his high “insider tips” is to go to Jura, one of many smallest wine areas in France, to go to the village of Chateau-Chalon, he mentioned. There, guests can attempt the world’s “heart and soul” — its vin jaune, or yellow wine.
Bailly and Lhuillier each advocate the French division of Dordogne. Located between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, it has “unspoilt natural jewels” like Bergerac and Duras, mentioned Lhuillier.
Though it is much less stylish than different elements of France, Dordogne is a spot “where you can really enjoy French art de vivre, gastronomy and nature,” mentioned Bailly.
France’s “art de vivre” — actually “the art of living” — is a part of the rationale that France has for many years been among the many hottest locations for worldwide vacationers. The emphasis on having fun with life is omnipresent — alongside boulevards of Paris, inside the rooms of the Palace of Versailles and contained in the nation’s eating places, which collectively have extra Michelin stars than another nation on this planet.
But Bailly mentioned it is within the “more secret, discreet places” that vacationers can actually “rest and reconnect to the French way of living.”
The ‘most lovely’ villages
Another place in Dordogne, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, is likely one of the latest villages on the checklist of the “most beautiful villages in France.”
The checklist, which began 40 years in the past, names 168 villages of remarkable heritage and sweetness. Each is evaluated on 30 standards, together with heritage websites and structure in addition to smaller particulars comparable to hidden electrical wires. There’s lower than a 1-in-5 likelihood of creating the checklist, in accordance with the checklist’s web site.
Southern France has the very best focus of those villages, with greater than 75% positioned in provinces like Nouvelle Aquitaine, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur.
The tv present “Le Village Prefere des Francais” — or “The Favorite Village of the French” — additionally attracts guests to lesser-known spots within the nation. Fourteen villages are shortlisted annually — one in every area in France — with the winner topped by public vote.
Last 12 months’s winner drew extra vacationers: the tiny hilltop city of Sancerre, which is likely one of the most recognizable appellations for French Sauvignon Blanc.
The similar will doubtless occur for Bergheim, a village alongside the Alsace Wine Route, which was topped this 12 months’s winner on Wednesday.
Domestic tourism to Sancerre elevated in 2021, after it was voted essentially the most lovely village in France.
Julian Elliott Photography | Stone | Getty Images
Bailly mentioned vacationers can construct a whole journey round these villages.
“It’s a more private, domestic, cultural way of looking at France,” she mentioned. “It’s not Saint-Tropez, it’s not Mont Saint-Michel or Eiffel Tower, but it’s also France with the richness of its history.”