France’s 5 best rural destinations

When we think of travelling in France, the first thing we think of is its cities: most likely something like Paris, or Marseille, or even Lyon. But don’t forget that France has so much more to offer -- its countryside. For a slower and more authentic travelling experience, France’s rural regions, towns and villages are simply refreshing. Next time you’re in France, you might want to consider dropping by these 5 rural destinations.

1. Côtes-d'Armor
Côtes-d'Armor is a department in the north of Britanny. With its outstanding landscapes and beautiful coastlines such as the Pink Granite Coast and Emerald Coast, its towns breathe of history - the towns of Lannion and Dinan are testaments to the rich heritage of France. Silky beaches and ivory cliffs surround its comely towns and villages. Côte de Granit Rose’s beaches and rocky coves offer plenty for the outdoorsman. The traditional fishing village of Paimpol offers boat trips to the island of Ile-de-Brehat where you can visit the 12th century pilgrim’s abbey at Beauport. The port town of Lannion blends history with modernity with its quaint shops and boutiques

2. Cluny
If you’re an artist, poet, writer or otherwise dreamy creative, consider Cluny the getaway for you. Punctuated with churches and villages, it is untouched by the bustle of the modern world. The streets and houses are characterised by their classic, timeless designs, while charming markets are held every saturday morning. Be sure to visit the monastery, which was once the centre of power in Europe. Visit the Benedictine abbey to explore more of Cluny’s story of religious, intellectual, political and artistic history.

3. Colmar
Found in the Alsace region, Colmar is a charming corner of France. With its roots tracing back to the 9th century, 1000 years of history unfolds itself to you in the form of magnificent medieval architecture. Centuries of warring between Germany and France makes Colmar a truly unique village; you can see it in the colourful buildings, hear it in the lovely residents and taste it in their food. Take a romantic walk through Little Venice along its cobblestoned streets and canals. Along the way, pop into its shops and find its Alsace made wines, cheeses, sausages, chocolate and other goodies which you can bring along for your own picnic.

4. Roussillon
This is a good one for you travel geeks out there. A humble village found in the region of Luberon, Roussillon is classified as one of the “most beautiful villages of France”. It’s renowned for being built upon large ochre deposits, which is reflected in the bright orange houses and the lively residents. You can explore the colour and the brightness of the ochre cliffs which make for beautiful vistas. Alternatively, you can get lost in the alleys and narrow streets and become acquainted with centuries of Neolithic architecture.

5. Ars-en-Ré
The small coastal village of Ars-en-Ré is found on the island of Ile-de-Ré. It sports a wonderful view of the Atlantic Ocean and offers many seaside activities. This is a great destination for lovers of nature. Along with Roussillon, it is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Visitors will note it for its quietness and outstanding architectural heritage. Discover its natural heritage, from the salt marshes to the oyster farms. TheBell Tower stands proudly over forty metres tall, and its famous black and white colouring is a testimony to the village’s character as the “Village of Stone and Water”.