Discovering the Art of Slow Travel in France: Embracing Authentic Experiences Beyond Airbnb

Discovering the Art of Slow Travel in France: Embracing Authentic Experiences Beyond Airbnb

This blog post helps you discover the Magic Of Slow Travel In France.

Slow travel is the perfect way to immerse yourself in an area for a small staycation or an international trip.

Allowing you to enjoy your vacation by slowing down and taking in the sights around you

It gives you time to see and truly experience an area.

From living in France these past 10 years, we have taken to slow travel more and more.

By taking out time instead of rushing to fit everything in.

France is an amazing country to travel slowly in. Every region and area has something new to offer. The sights, sounds, and culture vary greatly from east to west and north to south.

Here are some helpful tips for planning a slow travel experience. That will allow you to truly explore your dream destination without missing out on anything.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links’. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

What Is Slow Travel

Photo: Oleksandr P – Pexels

Slow travel is a way to enjoy your trip and connect with locals, culture, food, and the environment. You don’t have to travel for months. Take your time and appreciate the area you’re visiting.

Trains, buses, and walking are good options to get around and enjoy the journey.

France is a great destination for slow travel. It has a well-connected train network and a walking and hiking culture.

Slow travel is environmentally friendly and sustainable. It benefits local communities and reduces fatigue and burnout.

Slow travel helps you be more mindful and present during your journey. By paying attention to details, you can be more open to unexpected experiences.

It is a simple and effective way to travel that encourages rest and reflection.

In summary, slow travel is a way to travel sustainably and mindfully. It’s an opportunity to fully appreciate the journey and enjoy the destination.

Transport Options For Slow Travel

Choosing your mode of transport is a personal choice.

Photo: Avinash Patel – Pexels

We opt for a hire car. Usually staying outside in the major tourism areas and come and go as we please. This way you can stay for example, in a house 45 minutes outside Paris and either ride the trains or drive in pairs and park in a car park in the city. While being able to relax outside and easily visit other places and attractions if we want.

Photo: Alberto Michelotti/Flickr

However, traveling through France by train is a beautiful way to see the country. Paris to Montpellier, Bordeaux, or Marseille are less than 5 hours. Using public transport creates an intentional travel experience. It is slower and allows you to take in what is around you can discover places and people that might be missed in a car.

Either option for transportation is perfect for you. Whatever your budget, preferences, or travel style. Slow travel is not about taking the slowest route or staying in one place for a long time. It is about finding a pace and style that matches you and how you like to travel.

The Charms of Slow Travel in France

Slow travel helps you connect and experience the local people, culture food, and environment.

This type of travel is called slow travel. You don’t need to spend several months traveling, but rather take enough time to enjoy the area.

You can use slower modes of transport like trains, buses, and walking to appreciate the journey instead of just the destination.

France is a great destination for slow travel. With its well-connected train networks and a thriving walking and hiking culture.

Slow travel is also an environmentally friendly and sustainable way of traveling that benefits the local communities while reducing fatigue and burnout.

Slow travel is also eco-friendly as it encourages using trains, buses, and walking. It helps reduce travel fatigue by allowing for more rest and reflection and promotes mindfulness and present travel experiences. By being present and attentive to details, you can be more open to unexpected experiences.

France has more to offer beyond Paris, such as the countryside around Champagne and the sunny beaches of the south on the French Riviera.

One great way to truly explore France is through slow travel, which allows you to take your time immersing yourself in a village or city.

You can sit at the same café every morning before heading out to explore or stroll after dinner.

This way, you can discover new sights and history away from the tourist hotspots.

So if you want to explore France beyond the typical tourist destinations, consider slow travel and take your time to discover the hidden gems of this beautiful country.

Accommodation Options In France

France has several alternatives to Airbnb available throughout the country. Opting for a French holiday company, Gite or Chambre D’hotes gives you an immersive experience and local knowledge.

Gites De France

Gite – Les Hirondelles, Aisne ( Photo: Gites De France)

Gites de France is a government-regulated collection of holiday homes.

They first started in 1950 to bring tourism back to France after World War 2. To encourage tourists to visit lesser-known areas of France.

The homes under the Gites De France organization are regulated and under strict quality assurance. They are classified between 1 and 5 epis (similar to a star rating) depending on amenities and comforts.

They have either been created to be a Gite or they are people’s second home to holiday home. It is common for people to inherit the family home and turn it into a Gites. They can range from a small farmhouse to a sparkling house in the mountains. In the last 20 years, Gites de France has introduced more City Stays. Mainly in smaller cities like Bordeaux

Staying in a Gites is a great way to immerse yourself in the area. The hosts have excellent local knowledge of where to go, what to do, restaurants, and local activities.

Chambre D’Hotes

Chambres d’hôtes Jardin des Fées, Normandy (Photo: chambres-hotes.fr)

Chambre D’Hotes are the French version of a Bed and Breakfast. Many are beautiful and charming historic homes. In beautiful locations and offers a more personal and unique experience than a hotel.

In general, they only have 5 to 7 rooms giving you a personalised experience with local knowledge and insights into the area.

There are also chambres de hotels that come with a table de hotes. A home-cooked dinner or lunch of regional meals.

They are perfect for a short stay of a couple of nights or passing through.

We have always had terrific experiences at Chambres Dhtoe and the breakfast is always perfect full of fresh fruit yogurt, pastries, and coffee.

Staycation.co

Château Mont Royal Chantilly (Experience by Staycation.co)

Staycation. co is a platform for pre-packaged stays.

You pick a theme and a destination, then choose a package.

They are aimed at people looking for a weekend getaway.

The package deal includes hotels, some activities, and usually breakfast.

This gives you an affordable, easy, and curated way to organize a short trip while visiting Paris or other cities in France.

The destination aligns with public transport making it a great option for a weekend getaway.

GreenGo

GreenGo is an alternative to booking.com and Airbnb that offers sustainable and eco-friendly accommodation.

The network ranges from hotels to short-term holiday rentals.

The great part, of the website is a filter designed for tourists who are traveling without a car. There are options for choosing accommodation aimed at tourists using public transport.

While we have not used GreenGo. It seems like a great way to organize slow travel around trains and buses. Making planning a trip through France a lot easier.

Some Great Destinations In France for Slow Travel

Provence

French Riviera, Provence (Photo: Winalist)
Lavender Field, Provence (Photo: Winalist)

Provence and the French Riviera are great areas to travel slowly. Spanning from Marseille along the coast to the Italian border and continuing north into the mountains. In the South of France, it’s easy to travel from town to town without a car using public transport.

The south of France is a beautiful region, with stunning landscapes, charming villages, wonderful and colorful markets full of charm and history not to mention the beautiful beaches along the coastline.

Provence has many Gites and short-term rentals. Many cottages nestled in the vineyard, lavender fields, and olive groves. Most are easy to access through busses and trains and with the wonderful hospitality of the hosts who are happy to help you navigate to and around the area.

The Provence Cote D’Azur Tourism Website has an in-depth guide to discovering the south of France by train.

Aix En Provence, Frejus Or Avignon

Aix En Provence (Photo: Tourlane)
Frejus (Photo: Expedia)
Avignon Bridge, Avignon (Photo: Winalist)

As Provence is so large your destination or “base” depends on what you want to do and your transport options.

With a car, Aix En Provence is a great place to stay. It’s a lively city without being full of tourists. It is located north of Marseille and is about 2 hours from the Italian border. Exploring the mountains; gorges or beaches of Provence is no more than a 2-hour drive.

However, if you are looking to stay along the coast and wish to explore the beauty that is the French Riviera. Frejus with or without a car is right in the middle. However, Cassis is a budget-friendly option. It is as stunning and lovely as the other towns along the coast but is more of a village than a bustling tourist hub.

If you are using only public transport then Avignon is a more centralized location. As the city has great access to public transport. From here you can reach Arles, Nîmes, Aix-en-Provence, and the Luberon villages by train, bus, or organized tours.

Beaches surrounding Marseille can be easily accessed from Avignon in less than an hour.

Slow Travel In Normandy

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy (Photo: Alamy)

For a relaxing journey into history and food, Normandy is a terrific destination to spend some time while in France.

Perfect for slow travel and getaways. Normandy has beautiful country roads, a great transport system, and interconnecting cycling routes.

This region is full of history, culture natural beauty, and food that is unique to this area.

Overall, Normandy’s wealth of cultural, historical, and natural attractions, combined with its infrastructure for slow travel, make it an ideal destination for those seeking a more immersive and relaxed travel experience.

Caen, Normandy

Caen (Photo: Seloger)

A great centralized location in Normandy is Cean.

Cean is a great city to stay in as it has an abundance of accommodation options both in the city and the surrounding area. The city is cheaper to stay in compared to other cities like Rouen or Bayeux.

If you have a car Cean is within 2 hours of lost major attractions and sights in Normandy. Such as the D-Day Beaches, Mont Saint Michel, and the very popular tourist town of Bayeux.

Because if its centralized location it is the perfect destination for traveling without a car.

Caen has a great connection to public transport compared to other cities in the Region. You can easily get to and from Paris and other destinations. Making it easy to get to the beaches, Mont Saint Michel and other attractions by train or by organized tours.

Dordogne Valley

Dordogne Valley ( Photo: Trip USA France)

The Dordogne Valley is an amazing place to visit if you want to take it slow and enjoy the rustic beauty and prehistoric wonders of the area.

Throughout this area are “Les Plus Villes De France” (The Most Beautiful Villages In France). A classification given to beautiful villages such as Rocamadour, Domme, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, and Monpazier. There are many more in the Dordogne Valley and the surrounding area has a large number of them.

This area of southwest France is bursting with places to see and things to do. From prehistoric cave drawings to miles and miles of vineyard.

In the summer hire a kayak and discover the area from the river. Hiring Kayaks is one of our favorite things to do on holiday.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux (Photo: Bordeaux Tourism)

Although not in the Dorgoance Valley, Bordeaux is the best city to stay in if you don’t have a car. The transport system out of the city to the surrounding areas is unmatched. From Bordeaux, you can easily get a tour or a bus to the valley or discover the beaches in the area.

With a car you can explore Dorogone Valley or head towards the Spanish border into Basque Country ‘ Pays Basque). Alternatively follow the coast up a couple of hours to find wonderful and charming villages, beaches, lighthouses, and more.

Discover Coastal Charms Of Southwest France


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