Almost every region in France has something interesting to discover - quiet villages, stunning scenery, historical buildings lost in the countryside, beaches...
...so before rushing to visit the most popular regions why not think about somewhere else for a change? You can avoid the crowds and still have a great time discovering the 'real' France!
Plan your visit
Explore places in France
To help you better plan which part of the country you would like to visit there are several ways below to start exploring:
- choose one of the regions below
- enter any place name in the dropdown box
- see French towns and villages for highlights in every region and department
- visit our French travel ideas...
Our France regional travel guides feature hundreds of the most scenic, interesting and picturesque places to visit in all parts of France to help you better plan your visit.
Explore the regions of France
Forgotten your French geography? See further down for a map of the regions
Summary of the regions of France
France This Way has a simple goal - to introduce the most picturesque, the most scenic, and the most interesting places to visit in France.
To start to explore simply choose a French region or place above or on the map of France further down, then visit the travel guide for that region. Each regional travel guide has its own detailed map to help you see locate and learn more about the places in France that interest you.
The regional information includes the best towns in France, favourite and famous places to visit in France, the most beautiful villages, the French heritage sites and historic monuments in France, the bastide towns of the south-west....and much more
Alsace is in eastern France, on the border with Germany to the east, and Switzerland to the south. It is the smallest region in France, and lies between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine. Strasbourg is the capital if this heavily forested region, and the climate is almost 'continental' - hot summers and dry, cold winters...the region is particularly visited for the very pretty villages, the Alsace vineyards and wine route, and the scenery
see Alsace Travel Guide to visit the Alsace.
Aquitaine and the Dordogne
Aquitaine is in the south-west corner of France. It reaches Spain at its southern frontier, and the Atlantic Ocean runs along the western edge of the region. . For visitors the region falls into two distinct regions - the coasts and forest along the western edge, and the Dordogne region further inland. Major cities in the region include Bordeaux, Biarritz and Perigueux....the region is often visited for the long sandy beaches and popular resorts along the Atlantic coast, and the castles and villages of the Dordogne
The Auvergne is part of the central (non-coastal) part of France, in the centre of the Massif Central. It is largely an isolated region of mountains, and dramatically rugged countryside and rocky gorges. Clermont-Ferrand is the capital of the region...the region is typically visited for the impressive scenery
see Auvergne Travel Guide to visit Auvergne.
Brittany is in north-west of France and is a large promontory jutting out into the Atlantic ocean with the English channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. The capital of the region is Rennes...the region is visited for its beaches, historic towns and quaint fishing villages as well as the chance to explore the islands off the coast
Burgundy (Bourgogne) is found in the center of France, just north-east of the geographical center of the country and south east of Paris. Historically, and still now, it is one of the richer parts of France, and has been since hundreds of years ago, when the Burgundians sided with the English during the Hundred Years War. Dijon is the capital of the region...the region is often visited for the famous vineyards, the scenery and historic towns and villages
see Burgundy travel guide to visit Burgundy.
The Centre region is found in northern-central France. It is a department name little known (and little loved), but containing one of the most popular regions of France for visitors - the Loire Valley. It is here that many of the most famous chateaux of France are to be found. The capital of the region is Orléans...the region is typically visited for the numerous imposing Renaissance castles, the very impressive towns along the Loire river and the chance to enjoy the scenery along the rivers
Champagne-Ardenne is found to the north-east of France, where it's frontier borders Belgium. The capital of the region is Chalons-en-Champagne...the region is of course best known as being home to the famous champagne vineyards
see Champagne Travel Guide to visit Champagne.
Corsica is an island off the south-east of France, with perfect coastlines and a dramatically mountainous interior. Corsica has 1,000km of coastline and more than 200 beaches - reputedly the best beaches to be found anywhere on the Mediterranean. Perfect weather, and perfect beaches, sand and water. Perhaps the best beaches are at the south of the island, but there are beautiful beaches all over...as well as the beaches, the mountain, weather and historic resort towns are major attractions on Corsica
see Corsica Travel Guide to visit Corsica.
Franche-Comte is found to the east of France - the region borders onto Switzerland. As you head towards the east of the region you start to leave the rolling countryside and smaller peaks of the Jura mountains, cross the high plateaux, and enter the Alps 'proper' Much of the countryside is an unspoiled mix of forests and open country, interspersed with lakes and rivers...visitors come to Franche-Comté for the unspoiled and dramatic scenery as well as the pretty villages, lakes and numerous outdoor leisure opportunities.
Languedoc-Roussillon is found on the southern edge of France, on the Mediterranean coast. It reaches Spain at its southernmost border. It acts perhaps as poor relation to Provence, further to the east. But unfairly, because it has its own share of dramatic landscapes, divided by dramatic gorges, and plenty of great medieval architecture...the principal attractions of the region for visitors include the extensive coast with its sandy beaches, the beautiful isolated countryside and villages in northern Languedoc, historic towns with Roman monuments and the cathar castles
Limousin is found in the centre of France, around the town of Limoges. It is high - much of the region is at an altitude of more than 350 metres - and is mostly hills covered with woodland. The climate is not especially inviting - rain is frequent, and winters are very cold, so it is not always on the tourist circuit. An area to discover in the summer!...visitors come to this region to enjoy the large areas of unspoiled countryside, beautiful scsenry and the traditional towns and villages
see Limousin Travel Guide to visit Limousin.
Lorraine is a 'frontier department' in north-east France that shares borders with three European countries - Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The department has the unenviable distinction of being the main invasion route for France, and many a hostile invasion has crossed the region in the last 1200 years...many of which have left their mark for visitors to discover
see Lorraine Travel Guide to visit Lorraine.
Normandy is on the coast of north-west France, where it faces the English Channel. Caen is the capital of the region. It is a very popular destination...visited for many reasons including the beaches, the belle-epoque seaside towns, the pretty countryside and some of the loveliest rural architecture and gardens to be found in France
see Normandy Travel Guide to visit Normandy
The Pyrenees are found along the border between France and Spain, and the Midi-Pyrenees region covers the middle section of the area. The Midi-Pyrenees region reaches from the Spanish border to the south and a long way north into areas that are quite remote from the Pyrenees mountains themselves eg Rocamadour in the Lot Department...visitors to the south will discover the spectacular mountain scenery while those further north will discover lovely villages and towns, and less mountainous but still very attractive countryside!
There is one principal attraction that the Calais region is famous for - the battlefields and cemeteries of the WWI battles. Between Amiens and Lille, the Somme battlefields are still a major pilgrimage destination, and some of the Somme trenches are kept intact to help the visitor better understand the battles and conditions that were faced...although often visited for these commemorative destinations you will also discover other places of interest in Calais!
The Provence region covers the south-east corner of France. It is perhaps the most visited and most loved region of France, and includes beautiful Mediterranean coastline, medieval villages clustered among the olive groves in sun-baked countryside, and mountainous regions...
Paris / Ile de France
Île-de-France is the most populated region of France, and includes Paris - it is often referred to as the Paris region. Many of the most famous places in France are found in Paris, and everyone who visits falls in love with the capital of France, as much for its shady boulevards, street side cafes and general atmosphere as for the famous sites...
Pays de la Loire
Pays de la Loire is found between southern Brittany and northern Poitou Charentes, on the western side of France. Often you will be in this region, when you think you are in the Loire Valley or Brittany so see also those areas. Note that Nantes, formerly the capital of Brittany, is in this region...the region is usually visited for the beaches along the western coast which are especially popular with families
Picardy is a large flat area of open fields, with a fame arising from the WWI Battle of the Somme in the north of the region...and is also a region with a great deal of unspoiled countryside and some attractive towns and villages
Poitou-Charentes is found half way up the western side of France, fronting the Atlantic Ocean / bay of Biscay. The capital of the region is Poitiers. The coastal region is said to be the second sunniest region of France (after Provence)...the principal attractions for visitors are the resorts along the coast, the beaches and villages on the Ile de Ré, and the historic town of La Rochelle.
see Poitou-Charentes Travel Guide to visit Poitou-Charentes.
The Rhône-Alpes region is found in the south-east of France, where it borders Italy and Switzerland to the east, Provence to the south, and Burgundy to the north. It is a wild and very beautiful part of France...above all visitors are drawn here by the scenery and the chance to enjoy outdoor activities
How to use this guide
There are hundreds of pages of information about France and places in France in this section, and various ways to access them:
1) Select a region to see various information about many of the places to visit in France. These include for each region the villages that have received the accolade 'most beautiful villages in France', the sites listed as world heritage sites by UNESCO, and many of the other places and highlights.
2) If you know what department you want to visit, but not which region it falls in (eg Dordogne is a department, not a region), see the departments of France which lists the departments and shows which region they fall in.
3) If you know the name of a place in France you want to visit, but not the department or region it falls in, use the index! (see bottom of each page) - to find it within the site as a whole.
4) for a complete searchable index of all 36,000 places in France see French communes
Please do spend some time exploring the different places in France in this section - there are more than 1000 towns, castles and villages listed, and much more, most with photos.
Somewhere we've missed? Let us know, so that our France Travel Guide is as complete as possible!