In today’s travel article, members of the Renestance team share their favourite trips in France and Europe.
Read on to find out our Dream Team’s favourite itineraries and tips!
I prefer to travel by car because I can stop wherever I want. I’m not one for pre booked, all inclusive holidays. I prefer to define some places I’d like to see and then make my way there and around. If you’re flexible, there’s always a place to stay somewhere and you make great discoveries. Depending on the place, I stay 1-2 days or keep on driving. This is the way I traveled in 2021 to Bordeaux, Biarritz, Bayonne, Pau, Carcassonne, Orange, etc.
Marseille and Paris were different in that we stayed in an Airbnb apartment in an interesting centrally located quartier (both up on the fifth floor in a building without fire escapes…) and discovered both cities more or less on foot. Here too it’s worth researching interesting stuff to see beforehand in order to have a plan. In Paris we had a:
– Monuments’ Day: Notre Dame, Pantheon, etc.
– “Dia de los Muertos”: Catacombes (DO get a ticket online or get there by 6pm when it’s thinning out), Père Lachaise (DO hire a guide, it is immense)
– Museum Day: Musée des Arts Decoratifs (very interesting and a lot less people than in the better-known museums)
– Shopping Day: Galeries Lafayette (the Art Deco one), Chercheminippes and other second hand stores
– Parc Day: Hanging out in the Tuileries etc.
In general I just love traveling! Being in airports, train stations, even motorway services “aires de services” and that special ambiance of “holidays” and people being on the move just gets me giddy! I do have a special soft spot for road trips either with a sleep-in van or a tent though; planning your route, picking out the places to stop, selecting your playlist and watching the landscape change and unfold before you as you drive through different regions. Second best would be by bike. I plan to do a cycling trip next year with friends.
France is excellent for both of these activities as there are many cheap campsites and mobile home parking spots made available to tourists. Most “communes” or villages have one or the other or both!
My favorite road trip I’ve done recently is from Montpellier to the Costa Brava in Spain. It’s about a 3h drive down to the beautiful seaside town of Colera. That’s if you take the motorways, but I suggest taking it easy and going via the smaller roads if you have the stomach for it! You will wind your way along the French and Spanish coast line and you can stop at so many gorgeous beaches and towns along the way. This will take you more like 5-6 hrs with a couple stops. Don’t forget to pack a snorkel! Once you’re in Spain, the possibilities are endless! Next time I’ll be going further and heading to Barcelona, one of my favorite cities in the world and a road trip that’s been on my bucket list for many years!
For cycling trips I have very fond memories of a cycling holiday from Arcachon (Gironde), to the Pointe de Grave. You start by taking a ferry boat across the bay to Cap Ferret and then you can cycle all the way on dedicated cycling tracks which wind their way through the pine forests along the Atlantic coast. Think cicadas, ocean views, the smell of pine needles and the breeze floating through the trees. Heaven!
Since all of my family are into bouldering and rock climbing, we often go to the forest surrounding Fontainebleau and the lovely villages close by. The Fontainebleau forest is world famous for its thousands of rocks and boulders, spread out over huge areas. The ground is either sandy, like a lovely beach, or mossy and earth smelling, like in any majestic forest. We usually rent a gîte via Gîte de France, or sometimes an airbnb.
We also love love love the Alps, usually we go there by car. It is so exciting when you are coming closer to the mountain range, and the landscape changes from flat to rocky. After a short drive you find yourself in the amazing mountains, with breathtaking views and fantastic air. Both summer and winter vacations there are amazing!
Another fun and beautiful thing to do, is to go kayaking down the Herault river! It is fun, a little exciting sometimes, with the emphasis on a little, and just splendid. You can stop along the way, and swim in the beautifully fresh river.
Or else, take the car, drive towards where you have never been, stop in a pretty village for a coffee, or lunch. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite, magical place, like St Guilhem le desert, or just a pretty hamlet somewhere in Occitanie. Enjoy!
I have always loved to travel with family and friends. I went to Clermont-Ferrand for my undergraduate degree and I highly recommend that you take your car and drive through the Chaîne du Puy, which is made up of inactive volcanoes and many lakes. This is a great destination all year round as you can experience some snow in the winter and cool off in the lakes in the summer.
A few years ago, my boyfriend and I drove to Arles. We only took small roads, which was great because you can see some lovely villages along the way. We enjoyed our picnic on the way under a tree in an ancient orchard. We also had the chance to explore the Camargue on horseback, which was a wonderful experience.
If you are more interested in visiting another city, I would always recommend visiting my home city: Nantes. You can visit many parks and museums, but you can also hire a bike (or take your own!) and ride along the Loire river. Let’s not forget the interesting Machines de L’île, with the mechanical elephant that walks around the island inside the city.
Traveling in France and in Europe is really easy and most of the time smooth. Many destinations are reachable by train, especially in the summer. Some regions offer great deals at this period such as 1€ tickets (limited offers) to travel within certain regions on regional lines. You can also get really great deals if you travel off season or just plan your trip early enough!
All articles by: Leslie Belliot