Discover and be astonished by the unique, exotic and so beautiful paysages of France!
When we think about France, we have straight away in our heads: Paris, Côte d’Azur and its Cannes, the Alps for skiing, just to name its few top touristic places. But this is not all that France offers…
Thanks to my last discovery and this discovery came in a really unusual and funny way, I learned even more about France…I have been waiting for my first visit to the french pediatr. As I do not like waiting, I searched for something to read and the strangest thing happened: I found the book about the French paysages… I would expect to find the books and magazines about kids rather than about tourism in France, but I am not complaining. I am very interested in both topics. I looked quickly, as I actually didn’t have to wait too long for the pediatr, and I was totally astonished by the views and paysages available in France. This made me curious and interested to explore more and so I found many (really a lot) the breathtaking landscapes in France. I have chosen my top favorite breathtaking landscapes in France and I would love to present you them so you can also get astonished by the unique and exotic beauty of France. Between natural sites, lakes, caves and gorges, I would like to offer you a list of the 20 most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes of France…here they come:
- The Valensole Plateau, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – On nearly 800km², the Plateau de Valensole is a large attic of trees and plants both Mediterranean and mountain: pine trees, olive trees, apple trees, oaks, almond trees, vines, and especially lavender. This is the place to go to observe the magnificent fields of lavender as far as the eye can see! Nicknamed “the granary of the region”, it is essentially devoted to the cultivation of lavender and cereals. It has different aspects depending on the season: the snowy peaks of the Alps and the almond trees in bloom in March give way in July to the multiple blue lavender waving alternating with wheat gold. Interesting fact: in the 19th century, many families were already growing almond trees on the Valensole Plateau. Such a tree could produce up to 35 kilos!
- Gorges du Tarn, Occitanie – It is a canyon formed by the Tarn between the Causse Méjean and the Causse de Sauveterre, in southern France. Popular for hiking, climbing and kayaking, the Gorges du Tarn is located in the department of Lozère and caused by the erosion of the river Tarn. The gorges extend over 50 km long with cliffs up to 500 m high.
- Lake Salagou, Occitanie – Lake Salagou is an artificial lake easily accessible from the largest cities Hérault (Montpellier, Béziers and Sète). It was created in the late 1960s to allow the irrigation of surrounding crops. It also regulates the floods of the Lergue river and the Hérault river. But this is not all, Lake Salagou offers an extraordinary palette of colors, combinations of several geological phenomena: the brick red of ‘ruffes’ (clay sediments loaded with iron oxide) and the basalt black which is of volcanic origin and blends perfectly with the blues of the sky and the waves.
- The creeks of Cassis, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – Located between Cassis and Marseille, this large chain of cliffs offers kilometers of hiking trails with magnificent views of clear blue waters. It was initially a Roman port called “Carsicis Portus/Cassitis”, which seems to have disappeared in the second half of the 5th century of our era. It’s only into 1214 that the name reappears. Marinas Cassis has a port and an anchorage in the creek of Port-Miou. It accommodates three activities: pleasure with 500 rings including 30 for the reception of the boats of passage, fishing, and the boatmen for mini-cruisings in the Creeks.
- Lake Allos, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – Formed by snowmelt, this 60-hectare natural lake perched at 2,230 meters is the largest mountain lake in Europe. The wide-open spaces, the very pure blue sky, the blend of colours, the grey mountains around the lake reflected in the deep blue water,the green mountain pastures and larch trees
- The Rustrel Ocher, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – Also known as “Colorado Provençal”, this semi-natural site in the Vaucluse department covers more than 30 hectares and offers unusual landscapes with red-orange hues reminiscent of Colorado. This true canyon has been classified as “national nature reserve”. It is possible to discover the beautiful views that offer the Gorges de l’Ardèche by canoe, hiking or by road by car.The very small village of Rustrel is located against the Plateau d’Albion in the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon. You can discover there the beautiful color palette with countless shades of orange, flaming red, yellow and purple, hence the name Colorado Provençal de Rustrel. The ocher earth is the result of sand deposits created by the withdrawal of the sea millions of years ago. Wedged between the Luberon mountains to the south and the Monts de Vaucluse to the north, the most spectacular of ochre sites is nicknamed “the Colorado Provençal”. Between the villages of Rustrel and Gignac, the colours of the earth, due to the presence of ochre in the subsoil, offers visitors a breathtaking show.
- The cascades of Tufs, Jura – At the origin of this site accessible by a hiking trail: the waters of the Cuisance infiltrate into caves and pierce a rock called tufa in multiple waterfalls! The great source of the Cuisance is born in the heart of the remote Planches, located a few meters higher, and out of a massive limestone by many cavities, whose cave boards, carved in the tuff, a limestone rock of origin sedimentary. Hence the name of the waterfall, Cascade des Tufs. On a sunny afternoon, let yourself be guided in these undergrowths, where the sun’s rays come to pierce, and discover a miracle of Jura landscapes, where water is once again the central element, and where blue and green are the dominant colors.
- Mont Aiguille, Isère – A favorite place for mountaineers, Mont Aiguille, which reaches 2,087 meters high and is located in Chichilianne, is a “piece” of the adjoining cliff from which it has detached! The mountain, known as one of the Seven Wonders of Dauphiné, is a relatively flat limestone mesa surrounded by steep cliffs. The mountain lies within an area designated in 1970 as the Vercors Regional Natural Park.. Its first climb in 1492 was said to mark the birth of mountaineering. Mont Aiguille was nicknamed “Mount Inaccessible” in the twelfth century
- The Meander of Queuille, Puy-de-Dôme – It is a loop naturally formed by the river Sioule. The Sioule river forms a stunning loop in a beautiful green and unspoiled setting between Châteauneuf-les-Bains and Sauret-Besserve: the Queuille meander. This incredibly beautiful place can be admired from the panoramic viewpoint located near the village of Queuille. The concave bank of the loop is high and studded with rocks; on the convex bank opposite, the river hugs the Murat “peninsula”, a long wooded strip of land.
- The cliffs of Etretat, Normandy – Étretat is a town on the north coast of France. It’s known for the striking rock formations carved out of its white cliffs, including the Porte d’Aval arch and L’Aiguille (the Needle), a pillar rising up from the sea. Source of inspiration of many painters, the cliffs of Etretat surprise and delight because of their verticality, their calcareous whiteness beautiful places in Normandy. Normandy will please city dwellers in search of a breath of fresh air: admire the beautiful cliffs and discover the history of the region The cliffs of Etretat – Source of inspiration of many painters (for example Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet), the cliffs of Etretat surprise and delight because of their verticality, their limestone whiteness and their beautiful pebble beaches.
- The Mont Saint Michel, Normandy – Located in the department of Manche in Normandy, the Mont-Saint-Michel which becomes again an island in case of strong tides, is one of the unavoidable places to visit in France. It has its famous abbey, restaurants and a magnificent view of the bay. Obviously, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Par Amaustan — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0,
- The Gorges du Verdon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – It is located from the north in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence district and stretches to the south district of Var in south-eastern France. Europe has already deemed it to be one of the most beautiful, breath-taking places on the continent. As well, it is Europe’s deepest gorge. Famous for forming the most beautiful canyon in Europe, these exceptional gorges and the turquoise river of the Verdon are definitely a place to visit in the South of France! One of the most famous corners of the Gorges du Verdon is certainly the Lac de Sainte Croix. Verdon Gorge is a river canyon carved by the Verdon River. It has white-water rapids and cliffs. The sun rarely shines near the bottom of the gorge so the climate drops quite dramatically as travelers begin to hike downwards or begin to kayak in the river.
- The Dune of Pilat, Gironde – Framed about 3 km by the forest of the Landes de Gascogne and the sea of the Bassin d’Arcachon, the Dune of Pilat, is the highest in Europe. With a height of up to 117 meters, this is the perfect place for paragliding and sliding!The Dune of Pilat, also called Grande Dune du Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe. It is located in La Teste-de-Buch in the Arcachon Bay area, France, 60 km from Bordeaux. With more than one million visitors per year, the Dune of Pilat is a famous tourist destination.
- The basin of Arcachon, Gironde – It is a bay of the Atlantic Ocean on the southwest coast of France, situated in Pays de Buch between the Côte d’Argent and the Côte des Landes, in the region of Aquitaine. The bay covers an area of 150 km² at high tide and 40 km² at low tide. Great Lake Landes, the basin of Arcachon which opens on the Atlantic Ocean is full of inland seas conducive to fishing, oyster production. Nearly in the middle of the bay is a very particular island: L’île aux Oiseaux (Isle of the Birds)
- The Marshes of Vigueirat, Camargue – On no less than 1200 hectares, the protected natural site of Marais du Vigueirat is the perfect place to observe no less than 2000 species of fauna and flora, including bulls, Camargue horses, and of course the famous flamingos ! Wildlife reserve within a national park, with nature walking trails & horse-drawn guided tours.A beautiful nature reserve to discover in the Camarguer.
- The veil of the Bride, Champsaur & Valgaudemar – In a large glacial cirque of the Ecrins National Park, close to the Dévoluy massif, you will discover the cascade of the Veil of the Bride; from which you can reach the beautiful Lake Lauzon in 1h30 easy walk, or the refuge of Vallonpierre and its lake. Surrounded by high peaks over 3,000 metres high, the Valgaudemar valley, crossed by the turbulent Séveraisse mountain stream, is a wild and isolated area in Écrins National Park much loved by ramblers, mountaineers and fishermen. Around La Chapelle-en-Valgaudémar, nature fans can admire stunning waterfalls like the Voile de la Mariée (bride’s veil), Casset and Combefroide.
- The circus of Gavarnie, Gavarnie-Gèdre – It is a spectacular limestone amphitheater, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 1500m high, this vertical wall has a circumference of 6.5 km. At its heart runs the 423 m high Cascade, one of the highest waterfall in Europe! The major features of the cirque are La Brèche de Roland and the Gavarnie Falls. According to legend, its sheer walls were cut into the mountain by the sword of the hero Roland, nephew to Charlemagne. The cirque, and many others like it in the Pyrenees, was formed by the process of glacial erosion. A number of rare plants and animals live on the peaks at the upper rim of the Cirque de Gavarnie, protected on both the French and the Spanish sides by national parks.
- The organs of Ille sur Tet, Eastern Pyrenees – It is a unique geological site in the Pyrenees. The Organs are more than two million years old! This landscape is considered an exceptional heritage whose preservation has a general interest. Classified in 1981 as the “natural monuments and sites of artistic, historical, scientific, legendary or scenic” this site is protected. Its access, subject to regulation, is today limited by an entrance fee. The ‘orgues’ form a kind of natural amphitheater made of tall pillars of rock which have been eroded into wonderful ‘organ-pipe like’ shapes that stand up to 12 meters high. As well as the beautiful shapes of the rock they are all formed from a white sandy rock with regular layers of a yellow rock running through them giving them a pretty striped appearance. The rock structures are fragile and the same weather that formed these wonderful formations is also gradually eroding them away. Lots of sand washes down from the columns each time it rains.
- Le désert des Agriates, Corse – It is a place with the most beautiful beaches. Located between Balagne and Cap Corse, on the north-west coast, the desert of Agriates is a micro-region. The rocky cliffs protrude from the sand with small scattered ponds. You will not find a city or house except along the road, because the desert has this impenetrable environment. Many Mediterranean plants and trees, such as heather, shrub, rockrose, myrtle, olive, oak and maritime pine, date back to the plantations established in the 20th century. The agricultural plains, groves and meadows provide a refuge for wildlife. The Agriates desert is attractive for adventurous tourists due to its 35 km long preserved coastline. During the walkthrough this unique nature, you will even see Corsican shepherds with their goats and their pigs, one or the other. If you want to visit the Agriates desert, here is a guide to visit.
- The Queyras Valley, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – It is a high Alpine valley of the Guil River in Hautes-Alpes département in southwestern France. The area is noted for its flora (about 2,000 species), ranging from Mediterranean to Alpine varieties. The Queyras is flanked by more than 100 peaks of the Cottian Alps. The winter sports are popular there, and a number of villages with ski chalets line the valley. A slim canyon known as the Combe de Queyras is bounded by limestone precipices about 650 feet (200 metres) high and narrows occasionally to a mere fissure. The Queyras Valley is also a regional natural park located in the Hautes-Alpes department. Crossed by the Guil, torrential river of the South-East of France, this destination is very appreciated for the excursions which it offers. The area has the villages among the highest in Europe (average alt. 2,200m/7,218ft).
So how did you like my list of the top breathtaking landscapes of France? Did you know that France has such a unique and exotic places? Do you know other beautiful landscapes in France that you can share with me? Thank you in advance.