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France

Secret spots from our community

 

Europe's number one travel destination has luxurious beaches, world-famous wines and plenty of joie de vivre to give you the break you need. You could find all of these in Paris or Nice. But if you'd prefer to escape the crowds and keep France all to yourself, then follow our Interrail community to the Pyrenees, Provence and more, as they share their secret spots. Or if you're short on travel time, then find out how you can discover more of France by going just beyond Paris in our Northern France itinerary.

Secret spots from our community

Our wonderful Interrail community have sent us photos and stories of secret spots that they discovered while travelling in Europe. Below you can find the best from France - from lakeside beaches to hilltop abbeys, follow our community members into France's interior. All of the secret spots are marked on the map below:

 

 

Editor Pick

UGC-france-joigny-canal-boat

By Julio

The Burgundy Canal, Joigny, north-central France

It is amazing to navigate the canals of France. We would arrive at each port by train using the Interrail Pass. After arriving at the station, we would walk a little, then take our boat, as shown here in Joigny. Train + Boat = The best trip in the world.

 

Getting there by rail: Joigny is 1h 13m by regional train from Paris Bercy station.

Occitanie, south-west France

Abbey-Saint-Martin-du-Canigou-Pyrenees

 

 

By Olivia

Abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou, Casteil, French Pyrenees

It takes an hour to hike to the top and when you reach the point overlooking the monastery, everything is silent and peaceful apart from the birdsong. An absolutely beautiful place.

 

Getting there by rail: The nearest major station is in the city of Perpignan. From there you can either take a bus all the way to the base of the abbey's hill at Casteil, or take a 1h 8m regional train to Villefranche-Vernet-Les-Bains station, followed by a longer, 8km hike to Casteil.

cordes-sur-siel-france

 

 

By Felipe

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn

Cordes-sur-Ciel is a little medieval town on the top of a hill in France, near Toulouse. It's name means ''rocky heights above the clouds''.

 

Getting there by rail: Take a 55 minute regional train from Toulouse Matabiau to Cordes Vindrac station. There is a limited bus service from the train station to the town.

Provence, south-east France

UGC-france-lake-of-Sainte-Croix

By Carys

Lake of Sainte-Croix

My favourite secret spot in Europe is the Lake of Sainte-Croix in the south of France. The gorgeous waters are perfect for a summer dip, and the rentable paddle boats keep you entertained with your friends and family!

 

Getting there by rail: the lake is at the centre of the remote Parc naturel régional du verdon, so it is best to go by rail to Marseille, Nice or Aix-en-Provence, then continue by road.

5 days in Northern France

First-time visitors to France will undoubtedly want to visit Paris... and for good reason, because it's a world capital of culture. But go just beyond Paris by train and you can discover palaces, beaches, art and history - a full French experience.

 

Day 1: Versailles

Day 2: Rouen

Day 3: Bayeux

Day 4: D-Day Beaches

Day 5: Mont Saint-Michel

ER 1 week north France map

Day 1: Versailles

france-paris-versailles-gardens-palace

 

 

Just over half an hour from Paris, you can discover France's grandest palace. You can spend a whole day exploring its many rooms, including the Hall of Mirrors, then head outside to the pristine gardens

 

Paris to Versailles: Take a 14 minute regional TER train from Paris Montparnasse to Versailles Chantiers station, from which it is a 20 minute walk to the palace entrance.

Day 2: Rouen

france-normandy-rouen-gros-horloge

 

 

The capital of Normandy is full of history. You can see Joan of Arc's place of execution, the Place du Vieux-Marché, or visit the house and gardens of impressionist painter Claude Monet in nearby Giverny.

 

Paris to Rouen: A direct regional train from Paris St Lazare to Rouen Rive Droite takes 1h 34m.

Day 3: Bayeux

france-normandy-bayeux

 

 

Take an early train to Bayeux, with a stop in Caen for lunch and to see Abbaye aux Hommes. Check out the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a 70-metres long cloth depicting events of the 11th century Norman conquest of England.

 

Rouen to Bayeux: Catch the regional TER to Caen, then a direct Intercités train to Bayeux. The overall journey time is 2h 30m.

Day 4: D-Day beaches

france-normandy-dday-arromanches-les-bains

 

 

Spend the day remembering the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy. Visit the D-Day museum and see wartime remains at Arromanches-les-Bains, then stand on Omaha Beach and see its D-Day memorial.

 

Bayeux to the D-Day Beaches: There are regular buses of 1hr that drop you close to Arromanches-les-Bains and Omaha Beach. Alternatively, an organised day tour from Bayeux will ensure you visit all the D-Day sights. 

Day 5: Mont Saint-Michel

Conclude your Northern France tour with a trip to the magical Mont Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the ancient Abbey, best by guided tour, then explore the island, taking in the sea views.

 

Bayeux to Mont Saint-Michel: Take a direct 2h 12m train to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel station. Note that the service does not run every day.

 

Mont Saint-Michel to Paris: Return to Paris by train in just over 3 hours, via Rennes (reservation required). 

 

france-normandy-mont-st-michel
group-photo-travel-Maria Pereira

Join our community on Facebook to keep up-to-date with even more itineraries, tips and Q&As from travellers just like you.

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If you want to discover more of France, then you can find out how to add it to your next Interrail Pass trip with more destinations and rail travel tips on our France main page.