Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Slow Travel Google Map: France, Countryside
Areas of Natural Beauty
Doubs - Département
There's no significance in the siting of this marker, except that it comes close above those of specific sights in the Department of Doubs. You may have deduced from the number of markers that this is one of my very favourite areas.
Richard Couer de Lion's pride and joy.
Even on a rural break, there are some large towns that are not to be missed.
OK - so it's a big city and this is called Rural France - but you simply shouldn't stay in Alsace and not go there.
Monet's Garden - Giverny
Don't do what we did - go when the pool is being cleaned! - even though it's cheaper. In general Giverny is as good as you'd expect it to be.
Forêt de la Joue
I put a 'park' marker because I'm sure this would be classed as a 'Forest Park' in many countries. Roughly where the marker is placed are some of the finest fir trees in all France. One is renowned as the 'Sapin Président de la Joux' and is about 45 metres high.
Parc National des Cevennes
This mountain area is woodier than most in France and its proximity to some fine Causses territory means two for the price of one - or thereabouts.
Parc Naturel Régional Chartreuse
Keep an eye on the 'read more' website - the English version is still under construction but I'm sure it will be THE place to look. Meanwhile, if you can't manage the French, just use a search engine.
Parc Naturel Régional de Queyras
Simply great. Fabulous mountain scenery, villages, architecture, sundials, marmots and its own microclimate.
Alpes d'Haute Provence
This marker is a peg for the general website of the region if you 'read more.'
I doubt we could really do justice to Alsace. For one thing we didn't stay that long as we wanted to get down to Doubs for the bulk of our holiday and the latter was one of our very favourite areas.
Click 'read more' for a general guide to Cantal.
A series of picturesque waterfalls through steeply sloping woodland. [7 in 5 km]
Cirque de Baume + (SV)
The + indicates the two villages of Baume-les-Dames and Baume-les-Messieurs, the latter of which is worth seeing for its abbey.
Cirque de Navacelles
Stupendous cirque [horseshoe] - possible to reach the bottom by road. There's not much reading if you click but it's worth it for the photos.
You can obtain information from here about places I've never been in the area as well as places I do know.
An amazing area where you can find rocks of granite eroded to remarkable shapes. I have selected an English language site for 'read more' but you will get more photos on some of the French only sites that come up in a search engine.
An easily accessed summit where you are likely to cross more than once between France and Switzerland. Great views.
Can I really be the only one who finds these mountains worth a mention? Almost the only websites I find seem to originate with me. The one I have used is the same as that for Fraisse [qv]. The mountains include the Mont Carroux near Douch [qv] and the Gorges d'Héric, that sadly I've not seen.
Monts de Lacaune
Perhaps these mountains are less grand than those of Épinousse and less interesting than le Sidobre but they are very picturesque, they have excellent archaeology and the cheese is great.
Pont de Brotonne
One of the Seine's great bridges.
Pont de Normandie
A wonderful bridge only just out of Honfleur.
Sixt Fer-a-Cheval (SV)
Fer-a-Cheval is a horseshoe and this is one formed by mountains and said to be at its very best when the snow is melting above to give numerous cascades.
Source de la Loue
In this area of suberbly beautiful rivers, if Michelin's Guide Verte gives a place three stars, you are talking of real beauty. This is not a region for superlatives such as highest, longest, deepest; the beauty of the Loue's source is simply that - beauty. Pools are formed by springs on different limestone shelves on a cliff, their overflows unite and there is a spectacle - the Loue is born.
Source du Doubs
Near the Swiss border, I don't find the source of the major river that gives its name to a departement as splendid as those of its tributaries [Loue and Lisons] but it's pretty good and it would be a pity to miss it.
Source du Lison
Possibly a trace less grandiose than the source of the Loue [qv] but very scenic and with an air of mystery lacking from the other source, engendered by the thickness of the woodland.
Worth going if only for the smashing, shaded, vegetarian restaurant, something rare in France.
The Train des Pignes is a private railway running from Digne to Nice. Annot is one of the most fascinating stops. The old part of the town is stunning and there is a short and fairly easy but most impressive walk called the Grés d'Annot - grés being huge sandstone boulders.
Quite apart from the must-see tapestry, this is a delightful town. I wish I knew how to advise you to see it at its least crowded.
Briançon shouts of two thing, the Tour de France and the construction genius of Vauban. Except at a particular time of year, Vauban shouts loudest, even though he's been dead 300 years.
The old city usually produces either raves or rants. I feel that its Disneyesque pinnacles preclude raving but there's sufficient interest to avoid any rants from me.
Apparently it's more properly known as Chamonix - Mont-Blanc [though by whom I can't imagine.] There can be no doubt about the top quality of its position but in view of its size and bustle I prefer to stay fairly near, rather than actually in, Chamonix.
Almost too good to be real but very much the image of Brittany.
An early Mecca for British tourists. It won't take you long to see why.
A small but very pleasing town on the Loue wher you get a magical view from the bridge of the old house backing onto the river.
Very pleasant old town with a wonderful cathedral.
Small enough and with few enough ferries to convey an impression of getting directly into a rural area.
A litle known gem. It's well enough known in its own locality and packed with traffic and people on market days. There's an attractive cathedral.
Le Petit Train Jaune
This fascinating train runs on SNCF line, the highest in France from Villeneuve-les-Conflents, near Vernet-les-Bains [qv] to the big station [in a tiny village] of La Tour de Carol, near the Spain and Andorra border.
I don't know about the '- Bredons' bit. We camped in the tiny village of Albepierre, near Murat - a small but delightful site with all the hot water you could want. The mayor came to meet us!
It's surprising how interesting salt can be. It's certainly the Royal Salt Works that create the interest here, where a Ville Ideale [model town] was intended but never completed. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Beautiful and typical Alsace village with geraniums wherever there was room for them. The baker's shop changed languages between French and German according to what customer was being served.
Ceillac is a small village which has largely kept separate from the nearby ski resort. There are numerous highly impressive sundials. No doubt the residents gain by replacing wooden roofs with corrugated iron sheets but it does spoil the impact a bit for visitors. Even so it's a most attractive village and an ideal centre for marvellous mountain walks.
Thank Heaven for blog sites - the 'read more' section almost baffled me!
This is too small a place to find a helpful website but it makes a wonderful simple walk from Vernet-les-Bains [qv]going one way over the old route by a footpath pass.
A lovely little village, higher and aerier than nearby Saint Pons. There's a good restaurant but the main reason for its inclusion here is a superb camp site.
A 'real' seaside place. Not particularly pretty - a bit messy in fact but very busy and atmospheric.
I've changed this from village to town and back as I've visited different websites but, whichever it really is, it's the place that grabbed us most away from the Brittany coast, along with the splendid cathedral city of Quimper.
A tiny village, beautifully located at the end of a valley off the Ax-les Thermes road with one of the only campsites not immediately adjoining the Foix - Andorra road.
Small sleepy village on the banks of the Loue. There is a private chateau and the village is rather like a step back in time.
Saint Pierre d'Entremont
Actually two villages with the same name in different departments joined together. The municipal camp site is a good base for exploring the area.
I often find much heralded, historic, hilltop villages a bit disappointing when they fail to live up to the hype.
A place where the apparent hype of the website actually paints a far more accurate picture than the guidebooks I have read, which are guilty of sad underrating.
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