The Best Hidden Gems in France

Explore unique hidden gems across France, from secret Parisian passages to Provence's quaint villages. Dive into our guide for an unforgettable journey.
The Best Hidden Gems in France
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France is home to some of the most iconic and popular holiday destinations in the world. But it's also a great place to venture off the beaten track, discover new and unexpected things, and create unique memories that will last a lifetime.

We’ve put together a list of hidden gems in and around some of the major tourist spots to help you do just that.

HIDDEN GEMS IN PARIS

Paris is a great city to explore on foot, and one of the most intriguing ways to do this is by taking a tour of its beautiful 19th-century covered passages.

You’ll find everything from luxury goods to quirky antique stores and delicious pastry shops.

As Paris is the city of love, the perfect museum to visit has to be the Musée de la vie Romantique where you can immerse yourself in the lives of Romantic era icons such as George Sand.

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Wondering where to eat during your stay in Paris? Get inspired by our selection of the best Michelin restaurants in Paris.

And, if you prefer to be outside, the Jardin du Luxembourg is the ideal place for a nice walk.

Our luxury apartments in Paris are the perfect base for exploring the hidden treasures of the most beautiful city in the world.

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Hidden gems in Normandy

Normandy truly has something for everyone, from bustling beach resorts and swooping limestone cliffs to picturesque villages, along with a rich culinary heritage that includes Camembert cheese, cider, and Calvados.

Rouen, the region’s historic capital, boasts mediaeval cobblestoned streets, half-timbered houses, and imposing gothic churches including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, made famous by the painter Claude Monet.

While there you can experience local cuisine at its finest at Michelin-starred Pottier Frères, or take a detour to Aux Delices Normands in nearby Franqueville-Saint-Pierre, recently voted the Best Bakery In France.

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Want to take the key to the fields? Renowned for its charm and elegance, the pretty town of Trouville is the pearl of the Normandy coast.

  • Why we like it: It’s one of the earliest coastal resorts in France and full of  Belle Époque charm.

  • Our top activities: For a fun day out we suggest exploring the town’s grand villas, casino and lively covered fish market.
If you’re in the mood for something quieter then why not take a stroll along the beautiful sandy beaches? Once you’ve worked up an appetite you can enjoy some of the freshest seafood in France in amazing restaurants. 
 
 

Just over an hour’s drive from Rouen, Deauville offers an ideal alternative, offering something for the whole family, from expansive beaches to gourmet dining.

You can find out more about Deauville in our exclusive guide.

  • Why we like it: With its Belle Époque villas, world-class golf courses, casino, sea therapy spa, and famous boardwalk, Deauville offers an ideal base for exploring the coast, from Etretat to Omaha Beach

  • Our top activities: Soaking in the atmosphere of the Old Port and the quirky Maison Satie at nearby Honfleur is a great way to spend a day.  

    If you’re after a really unique experience then why not learn to drive a sand-yacht on the beach? You can enjoy wonderfully fresh seafood at Le Bistrot des Planches and learn all about (and taste!) Calvados at the Huet distillery in Cambremer.

After a day of exploring, return to one of our stunning Normandy villas and bask in luxury. 

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Hidden gems in the French Riviera

While most people associate the French Riviera with glitzy destinations like Nice or Cannes, the region is also world-renowned for its astonishing natural beauty.

Its coastline offers sweeping coastal cliffs, sublime sandy beaches, and secluded rocky inlets, along with sleepy fishing villages and winding coastal roads with breathtaking views over the Mediterranean.

A holiday in the region can take you from the famous beach clubs of Saint-Tropez to the old port and narrow streets of La Ciotat, and upwards to Saint Agnès - Europe’s highest coastal village.

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A few kilometres outside Saint-Tropez, Gassin is a mediaeval village surrounded by vineyards, perched high on a hill 200m above the sea, which offers an ideal alternative to the larger resorts. 

  • Why we like it: It has a glorious natural setting, spectacular panoramic views over the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, excellent restaurants, and tranquil rustic charm.

  • Our top activities: While in town, you should try squeezing through Androuno, the narrowest street in the world.

    If you want to get a real feel for the region then walking the coastal path between Ramatuelle and La Croix-Valmer is an amazing way to do it. 

    If you like the idea of dinner with a view over the region’s stunning landscapes then Bello Visto is a must!  Wine lovers will adore touring the local vineyards.

Journey from the region’s secluded spots to our exquisite homes on the French Riviera for the ultimate luxury experience.

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Hidden gems In Marseille

Marseille is a vibrant, bustling port city overlooking the Mediterranean that radiates all the warmth of the south of France.

Soak up the charm of its oldest neighbourhood, Le Panier, with its colourful houses, narrow streets, and hidden squares, and head for the Jardin de Vestiges which combines a beautiful garden and the city's oldest remains.

In the heart of Marseille is the Vallon des Auffes, a small traditional fishing port nestled below the corniche, lined with cabins and fishing boats, and home to some of the city’s best restaurants, including Michelin-starred L’Épuisette.

 

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Rich in history dating back to Roman times, Aix-en-Provence, known for being the birthplace of painter Paul Cézanne, is only about 30 minutes from Marseille.

  • Why we like it: its fascinating history, its artistic culture and its unforgettable colours

    This unspoilt haven is renowned for its spectacular rock formations, picturesque villages and ancient Roman remains.

  • Our top activities: Explore the Mazarin district and its historic streets before visiting the artist’s studio. You can then admire the internationally renowned works of art at the Musée Granet.

    Serious gourmands should make sure to try Calissons, a local speciality, at the sweet shop Le Roy René, and savour superb local cuisine at Michelin-starred Pierre Reboul’s restaurant, located in the opulent Château de la Pioline

Prepare for your trip by taking a peek at our article on the best things to do in Aix-en-Provence.

You will love returning to our beautiful villas in Marseille after a day exploring the city.

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Hidden gems in the alpilles

Alpilles is one of the most idyllic regions of France. If you're seeking a bit of tranquility near this highly sought-after massif, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is the place for you.

  • Why we love it: we are charmed by the authentic character of this village, as well as the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

  • Our top activities: Meandering through its pretty streets lined with small shops and art galleries, and relaxing in the shade of the plane tree-lined squares. 

    You can also admire the Roman remains at its archaeological site, a must-visit for history enthusiasts. 

    Art lovers will have the opportunity to follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps and discover the landscapes that inspired some of his most iconic paintings. 

Other must-dos? Visit a family of beekeepers in the heart of the Alpilles to uncover the secrets of honey-making. Head to Pizza Brun to savour pizzas topped with surprising ingredients like truffle or bull sausage.

You could also go hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding in the midst of nature, and explore the region and its characterful villages.

Let yourself be enchanted by the elegance and refinement of our luxury villas in the Alpilles

And for even more inspiration, discover our guide to the Alpilles.

 

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Hidden gems OF THE SOUTH WEST

Situated on the majestic Garonne River, Bordeaux is world-renowned as a mecca for wine lovers.

Château le Carmes Haut-Brion, the only wine estate located within the city limits, has a unique winery designed by Philippe Starck and the architect Luc Arsène-Henry, situated within beautiful gardens.

If you have a sweet tooth then we suggest Maison Darricau for some awesome chocolates, or Pâtisserie San Nicolas for their delicious Canelés, the most famous pastry speciality of Bordeaux.

If you’re travelling with kids, don’t miss Guignol Guérin, the oldest puppet theatre in France.

And just an hour's drive from Bordeaux, don't miss the chance to discover Cap Ferret. A true oasis of greenery and serenity, this former fishing village is dotted with oyster huts.

With its family-friendly atmosphere, endless sandy beaches, and a multitude of activities, it is a must-visit for families.

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For those who wish to explore the region further, head south and discover Biarritz and the Basque Country, just a 2-hour drive away.

  • Why we like it: The spectacular mountain views and 25km of prime Atlantic coastline.

  • Our top activities: Sporty types will love surfing on the Atlantic coast or hiking in the rugged foothills of the Pyrenees. 

    For those who prefer sweet treats, we suggest touring the chocolate shops of Bayonne, the cocoa capital of France. 

    You can also enjoy the mouthwatering local cuisine at one of the region’s many outstanding restaurants, such as Michelin-starred L’Auberge Basque.

Savour the secret delights of the city and then return to one of our luxury villas in the South West.  

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embark on this journey full of enchantment

France's hidden gems offer a unique glimpse into the country's rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant local life, far from the bustling tourist trails.

Each discovery, from secret Parisian passages to serene Provençal villages, promises an unforgettable journey filled with enchantment and personal moments of wonder.

Embarking on this journey to explore France's lesser-known treasures is an invitation to create lasting memories and experience the true essence of French elegance and charm.

FAQ

Where are the best hidden gems in France?
  • The secret spots of Paris, like the covered passages, offer a charmingly original shopping experience.
  • Trouville, in Normandy, is known for its Belle Époque charm.
  • Marseille's Le Panier district features colourful streets and squares.
  • Bordeaux's urban vineyard, Château le Carmes Haut-Brion, is a must for wine lovers.
  • Maussane-les-Alpilles in Provence is surrounded by stunning countryside
  • The Côte d’Azur's Gassin offers breathtaking views over Saint-Tropez.
Which regions of France are good for non-touristy activities with kids?
  • Normandy offers beach adventures and educational experiences. 
  • Bordeaux's puppet theatre and chocolate shops can be enjoyed by all the family.
  • Provence's nature trails are perfect for outdoor activities. 
  • The French Riviera has quaint villages and nature reserves for exploration.

 

What are the best off-the-beaten-track spots in France?

 

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