Top 5 Places to Visit in the French Countryside

Perhaps when you think of France, you think of Paris. The city of love is obviously iconic and an amazing place to visit, but the rest of France has some serious hidden beauty waiting to be explored.

The French countryside is dotted with quaint villages and breathtaking landscapes. It’s the type of region that you don’t know what you’re missing out on, until you get your first glimpse.

If you’re venturing out of the Parisian bubble, here are some top towns and villages in the French countryside to put on your itinerary!

• • • Vienne • • •

Just an 18 minute train ride out of Lyon, Vienne is a real French gem. Check out the ancient Roman ruins and amphitheatre that really take you back in time, all the while enjoying a glass of wine at one of the cute cafes surrounding the ruins.

Further down towards the river is a beautiful church that will take your breath away.

Make sure you visit the park here and take a stroll along the river. There are also lots of cute craft shops and local clothing boutiques for a spot of shopping. All this is located right near the train station so it’s super easy to see the whole place in a day.

The river has got to be one of the best places in France to enjoy a stunning sunset so try to put that on your itinerary!

• • • Bourg-en-Bresse • • •

In the Bourgogne region, Bourg-en-Bresse has a lovely and chilled out vibe to it. About a 40 minute train ride out of Lyon, this cute town has an old, relaxed feel but still keeps up with modern society by having a huge range of cool shops to check out.

History doesn’t take a side step to the shopping though, with stunning churches and building blending in to the newer shops and still keeping that classic European cultural feel.

The main square is a great place to sit back for a beverage or something to eat while appreciating the magnificent water feature in the middle of the square.

• • • Mâcon • • •

Still in the Bourgogne region, Mâcon is also around a 40 minute train ride out of Lyon. The river here will impress any one on any day. On the weekends, and sometimes through the week, there is an awesome market that takes place on the banks.

Grab some local produce to fill up your belly while you explore the rest of Mâcon!

Everything in Mâcon is really central, making it easy to walk. On your way down from the train station towards the river, you’ll pass plenty of cool shops as well.

Mâcon is an ideal to place to pick up some picnic supplies from a supermarket and find a patch of green grass along the river…afternoon complete!

• • • Manosque • • •

In picture perfect Provence is the quaint town of Manosque. The train station is central here, but really you’ll want to have a car for the day. Manosque is your starting point to exploring unbeatable landscapes of fields red poppies and bright yellow sunflowers.

Take a day trip to the Gorge de Verdon from Manosque and you’ll struggle to believe your eyes at the wonders before you. A day of climbing, hiking, and probably stumbling across a watering hole along the way to cool off in the hot Provence sun.

This is the region of France to make the most of the glorious nature around you!

• • • Cluny • • •

Back to Bourgogne, Cluny is an absolute hidden delight. This quaint village has some of the most historically stunning buildings. With a Roman influence, the buildings hold so much historical wonder.

The park here is a real must-see as you have the chance you lounge back in the green grass while overlooking some ancient building ruins.

Cluny has a cute country vibe with surrounding farm fields and horses scattering the countryside. The museum is also an awesome experience here, as well as climbing the shot tower to get some serious perspective through some breathtaking views.

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.