Stretching out from Corsica’s northern coast, this 25-mile long peninsula is one of the island’s wildest regions, with stunning beaches, winding hiking trails and small ports on the eastern side, and clifftop villages on the west. French hikers, birdwatchers, foodies – and those looking for a break in Provence away from the crowds – head to Les Alpilles, a chain of low, limestone mountains dotted with 10 charming villages.
St-Rémy and Les Baux get day-trip crowds, but Maussane, Moures and Paradou remain charmingly unspoilt, with an excellent network of walking routes fanning out across the slopes. Resting happily under the radar, between San Sebastián and Biarritz, Saint-Jean is known to be perfect weekend break territory for French families, with cycling and walking trails flowing in and around the town, and bustling cobbled squares and historic streets.
Dip into Les Halles – the town’s food market – for a gourmet picnic on the beach, sign up for surf lessons or take a boat trip along the coast into Spain. A slim, pine-clad peninsula, around half an hour’s drive from Bordeaux, Cap Ferret is one of the chicest spots on the Atlantic coast, with picturesque fishing villages dotted with boutiques, holiday homes and alfresco seafood restaurants.
Mainly French surfers and bodyboarders head to the western beaches, where white-tipped rollers coast in towards the sand, while families and those looking for something quieter relax on the peaceful eastern side. Beyond the bustle of the Côte d’Azur, this trio of islands has been luring French holidaymakers for years, who come for the breathtaking scenery, crystalline seas and fine, sandy beaches.
Waterfront restaurants lay on locally caught seafood with an almost Caribbean vibe, while the place to stay is Auberge Glycines on Porquerolles, a simple but comfortable base with classic Gallic charm. A charming seaside resort that’s still mostly the preserve of the French, Banyuls has a palm-backed esplanade, a long arc of beach and a bustling marina, offering plenty to keep all ages happy.
A shimmering swathe of water at the southernmost end of the Jura mountains, the French come to Bourget to sail and swim, to walk the esplanade at sunset and to cycle along the well-marked paths, with plenty of places to stop for a dip. Stay at La Maison des Pêcheurs, where all rooms come with stunning lake and mountain views, and the waterfront restaurant focuses on local, artisanal produce and wines.
The French come here for gentle outdoor holidays; everything from horse riding to sand yachting, cycling and kayaking, along with the chance to spot Frances’ largest colony of harbour seals and thousands of migratory birds. Brits rarely venture to the Alsace, but French holidaymakers love it for its excellent wines, picturesque towns lined with half-timbered houses and lush, rolling landscapes dotted with hilltop castles and fields of vines. Take a punt along the waterways of Little Venice or potter around the cafés and shops of the Quai de la Poissonerie and dip into the town’s vibrant covered market to sample the best local produce.