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.

Wondering where to eat during your stay in Paris? Get inspired by our selection of the best Michelin restaurants in Paris. If being out in the open air is more your thing, then the Luxembourg Gardens is a delightful place for a stroll. 

If you want to get off the beaten path, the chic coastal town of Trouville in Normandy is just two hours away.

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  • 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. 

Our luxury apartments in Paris are the perfect base from which to explore the city’s hidden delights. 

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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.

A little off the beaten track is the Vallon des Auffes, a traditional fishing village hidden away along the main coast road, filled with small fishermen's’ cabins and boats, and home to some of the city’s best restaurants, including Michelin-starred L’Épuisette.

If you want somewhere a little quieter, a 90-minute drive will bring you to the charming Provençal town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

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  • Why we like it: Situated in a beautiful countryside, the town is full of authentic Provençal charm.  

  • Our top activities: A great way to spend a lazy afternoon is exploring the pretty narrow streets, small boutiques, galleries, and quiet squares shaded by plane trees. If you love history then the stunning Roman remains are a must. Art lovers can follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh and discover where he created some of his most famous paintings.

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

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Hidden gems in Bordeaux

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.

If you want to venture off the beaten track head south for a couple of hours to discover Biarritz and the Basque Country

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  • 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 Bordeaux.  

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Hidden gems in Provence

One of the most idyllic and beautiful regions in France, the landscape of Provence boasts everything from rugged hills and rolling vineyards to pine forests, lavender fields, and a spectacular coastline. The historic capital of the region, Aix-en-Provence, has a rich history dating back to Roman times and is famous as the birthplace of the painter Paul Cézanne.

Visitors can explore the historic streets of the Mazarin district, and pay a visit to Cezanne's workshop before exploring the world-class art collection of the Granet Museum.

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

A little further off the beaten path is Maussane-les-Alpilles, a charming Provençal village surrounded by vast olive groves and superb countryside.

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  • Why we like it: It’s an ideal base for discovering Alpilles, one of the most beautiful Regional Natural Parks in France, an unspoiled area of spectacular rock formations, picturesque villages, and ancient Roman remains

  • Our top activities: Hiking, mountain biking, or horse riding in the wilds of nature. Explore the charming villages of the region. Learn the secrets of honey from a family of beekeepers based in the heart of the Alpilles. Enjoy a pizza made with unusual ingredients like truffles or bull sausages at Pizza Brun. 

Combine the rustic charm of Provençal villages with the elegance of our luxurious villas in Provence.

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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.

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. 

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  • 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 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.

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.

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  • 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. 

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

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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?
  • Vallon des Auffes, a picturesque fishing village, near Marseille.
  • Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, with its art and history.
  •  The Basque Country provides cultural richness and outdoor adventures.
  • Saint Agnès in the French Riviera offers tranquillity and stunning views. 

 

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