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7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France

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Planning a trip to France and want to explore the country beyond the famous attractions? Keep scrolling for my list of the best hidden gems in France worth adding to your itinerary!
This list of the best hidden gems in France was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

World-famous landmarks are the first to be included in most itineraries when planning a trip to France. But have you considered going to the country’s hidden gems?

After all, France is the most visited country in the world. The Eiffel Tower, Arc du Triomphe, and the Louvre Museum take a lot of credit for attracting many of the 85 million tourists that land in La Belle France every year.

Paris, the Alps, Dordogne, and Brittany get a good share of those tourists. Which is completely understandable, considering how strikingly gorgeous they are!

With that said, because there’s so much hype to explore famous French destinations and attractions, it can sometimes get crowded and a bit overwhelming.

If you are aiming to discover France sans the crowds, or you simply want to craft an itinerary that includes the highlights as well as secret spots that don’t make it to most guides, you’ve come to the right place.

France is home to a number of hidden gems that are still not on most travelers’ radars. These include picturesque hamlets, striking flower fields, small oceanside villages, and other natural treasures.

You can enjoy a more laid-back vacation or take a break from the hustle and bustle of the more crowded attractions. 

If love discovering hidden gems, which includes a few UNESCO World Heritage sites, here is a list of some fantastic hidden gems in France you’ve got to include on your itinerary.

Hidden Gems in France

1. Conques in Southern France

Tucked away in the middle of a forest, Conques is a charming small town with half-timbered houses located in the Occitanie region in France. 

Just to give you an idea of how pretty it is, Conques inspired the opening scene of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!

Being here will make you feel as though you stepped into a real-life fairytale town by simply walking its streets and alleys.

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: Conques village in the south of France in a sunny day.
Conques is an adorable medieval village in the south of France.

Winding narrow cobblestoned streets, quaint little cottages complete with charming rustic doors and window sills, and the enormous abbey church St. Froy make up this medieval picturesque town. This beauty is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical significance and Romanesque architecture.

Needless to say, almost everything in this tiny village is uber-Instagrammable. This includes the insides of its many quaint shops and crepe diners, making it a photographer’s dream come true!

2. Promenade Plantee (Paris)

You don’t need to venture outside of Paris to get off-the-beaten-path. Even if you’re short on time, you should still be able to fit in a few hidden gems in France if you’re visiting the capital.

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: The Promenade Plantee is a popular elevated walkway built on top of the obsolete Vincennes railway line.
The Promenade Plantee is a popular elevated walkway built on top of the obsolete Vincennes railway line.

The City of Lights has its very own hidden gems for you to discover if you’re in town and wish to escape the tourist crowds for a few hours.

One of them is the Promenade Plantee, also known as the Coulée Verte René-Dumont. In 1993, they built a 3-mile-long elevated park on an unused railway line. 

The promenade is a fantastic mix of modern architecture and landscaping, with wild vegetation areas that begin behind the Bastille Opera House and run to the Daumesnil Doree, where the shopping area is located. 

Surprisingly, most tourists and even many Parisians are not aware of its existence. So, it is an excellent spot to explore when you need to take a breather from it all.

You won’t only see rosebushes, hazelnuts, and lime trees that make up the Promenade Plantée, but you’ll also enjoy excellent views of the city.

As a fun fact, Coulée Verte René-Dumont was the inspiration behind the Highline in New York City.

3. Provence

The town of Provence is not too hidden anymore, especially because its striking lavender fields have become quite famous on Instagram in recent years.

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: A lavender field in the region of Provence, southern France, photographed on a windy afternoon.
Provence is most famous for lavender fields.

What might come as a surprise is that lavender season is not the only harvest here. This opens up a few possibilities for visiting the area during the rest of the year without having to deal with large crowds.

Other amazing harvest seasons in Provence include saffron, truffles, chestnuts, and blackcurrant. Each one offers unique attractions, products on sale, and photo-ops throughout the year.

The place is also rich in French history and is perfect for history buffs.

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4. Cote D’Argent

If you dream of exploring gorgeous sandy beaches in France but are not too enthusiastic about dealing with crowds, the picturesque port town of Cote D’Argent is for you. 

Also known as the French Riviera, this 143-mile stretch of pristine beach facing the Mediterranean Sea is backdropped by sand dunes. These are lined by shrubs that mark the beginning of thousands of acres of stunning landscape. History buffs will be interested to know that Napoleon III planted this forest for his navy!

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: Villa in Soulac-sur-Mer, France.
Villa in Soulac-sur-Mer, France

Cote D’Argent begins in Soulac-Sur-Mer and ends in Hossegor, with small towns or isolated houses dotting the sand in between. If you aim to walk for miles without meeting a soul, head to this almost unspoiled coastline, a true hidden gem in France.

Saint-Girons Plage is a good base for exploring the whole area. It offers equipment rental and tours for kite-sailing, surfing, body-boarding, boating, and plenty of other water sports.

If biking is your thing, you’ll be more than happy riding La Velodyssée, a fabulous 750-mile cycle route along the French Atlantic coast.

5. Auvers-Sur-Oise

Even though it is pretty famous because it is the town where Vincent Van Gogh found a lot of inspiration before putting an end to his life, Auvers-Sur-Oise is pretty much underrated as a tourist destination.

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: Ile de France, the picturesque castle of Auvers sur Oise.
Pretty garden in Auvers sur Oise.

Splendid wheat fields surround this lovely French village on the banks of the Oise River. Van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life creating 70 works of art in this quintessential French village, located about an hour by train from Paris. 

Whether you’re a Van Gogh fan or not, this must-see hidden gem in France has somehow managed to preserve its charm over the years.

A short train ride on the ‘train des impressionistes,’ from Gare du Nord station will take you away from the hustle and bustle of Paris to the town the painter described as “gravely beautiful” to his brother Theo.

Once there, prepare yourself to immerse in the French impressionist era. Van Gogh was not the only master to spend some time here. 

Highlights include Château d’Auvers, Charles-François Daubigny’s old house and workshop, and the museum that bears his name.

Another must-see is the church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, immortalized by Vincent van Gogh in one of his paintings. There’s also the Absinthe Museum and the artist’s final resting place.

This may be considered as a sleepy town, but its art and beauty are very much alive.

6. Lille

Lille is a former industrial powerhouse in northern France and the country’s fourth-largest city. 

Besides being a stunning cultural center filled with history and striking medieval architecture, Lille can be a less costly – and touristy – alternative to Paris.

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: Antique building view in Old Town Lille, France.
Old Town Lille has many antique buildings, like this one.

It is conveniently located 160 miles from Paris, 69 miles from Brussels, and 182 from London. This makes it a superb hub for exploring other famous European cities on day trips.

With so much to offer, it is probably one of the most underrated cities in Europe. It’s a great off-the-beaten-path destination, which in turn is full of hidden gems in France.

While Lille is a big city, there are also many beautiful villages and towns around that you can visit.

Lille has something for every type of traveler. The entire city is full of impressive architecture and unique buildings, including the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Treille and the Piscine Museum.

Art aficionados will love the Palace of Fine Arts. It features a nice collection of the works of Picasso, Monet, Rodin, and other world-renowned artists.

Citadelle Park is popular among nature lovers and history buffs. In the 17th century, Louis XIV asked Vauban to build the citadel for protection, and they built it with a park stretching around it. 

When you’ve finished sightseeing for the day, you can relax and dine at Grand Place (Grand Square).

7. Gorge du Verdon (Provence)

Gorge du Verdon is one of the most beautiful canyons in the world and the second largest in Europe. It measures 15.5 miles long and over half a mile in depth.

What makes it unique is the unbelievable tone of the turquoise-green water. The views of the river from the mountain cliffs are mind-blowing, making it one of the most beautiful hidden gems in France.

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France: Canyon Verdon Gorge, France, Provence.
Canyon Verdon Gorge in Provence, France.

You can make a day outing to the gorge while visiting the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France.

If you want to explore as much as possible, you can stay a few days in the nearby towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

The Verdon River’s force formed the gorge, and it currently flows into a man-made lake, Lac de Sainte-Croix. Best of all, the area is so vast that there are different ways to explore it.

If you’re yearning for some water sports, swimming, kayaking, and boating are available at the Lac de Sainte-Croix. If you want to explore the dry side, you can go camping, hiking, and driving in the Gorges du Verdon Natural Regional Park, which will take you deeper into the gorge.

Stunning Hidden Gems in France Wrap-Up

Which are your favorite hidden gems in France? If you have any other recommendations for places to visit that aren’t as popular, please feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

Looking for more things to do in France? Check out my tips for visiting Paris for the first time, things to do in Paris with teens, things to do in Paris at night, Paris photo spots, how to book a Paris photographer, my kid-friendly 5 day Paris itinerary, day trips from Paris by train, 2-Day Paris Itinerary, family Paris vacation, and the best Paris tours for kids!

7 Must-Visit Stunning Hidden Gems in France

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