Where did summer go? Did you make that trip to France? No? What about next year? Here are some ideas that will get you thinking. And planning. For next year. Or even this fall.

Parisian Cafe, Paris, France travel

Sample the Paris Cafe Culture!

Today I’m bringing back some classic Oliver’s France posts that you might not have seen before. After you read a few of them, you’ll be itching to dig out your passport. (Just click on the italicized title to read the post.)

So, let’s start in Paris, the most popular of the French destinations (though you definitely should not stop there!)

Maybe you’ve been to Paris multiple times and you’re longing for something…different. Here are some Unexpected Places in Paris that you may wish to check out.

Les Halles, Paris, shopping in Paris

Les Halles with a facelift!

If you have only 3 Days in Paris, here is an itinerary that will leave you feeling satisfied, like you’ve seen plenty but not worn yourself out.

While you’re there, definitely check out the Parisian Café Culture. It’s iconic, it’s on every corner, it’s worth experiencing. This post will give some background on this famous French pastime.

La Defense, Paris, business Paris

La Défense

After you’ve seen the top sites and want something unusual but memorable, head to La Défense, the almost surreal business capital of Paris. But it’s not all business. There’s outside artwork everywhere, fantastic restaurants, shopping, and remarkable architecture. You have to see it. And it’s easy to access by RER or métro.

Then there is the A to Z series in three parts.  Each one supplies lists of “bests” and helpful tips. You’ll want to check each one out.

   Paris A to Z part 1

            Paris A to Z part 2

            Paris A to Z part 3

Okay, let’s get out of the big city now and target some beaches, less known by folks outside of France. Now you can know about them too, and enjoy them away from the summer crowds.

Brittany, Ploumanach

Ploumanach, Brittany

Beaches in Brittany. Come have a look at the Pink Granite Coast.

In Central France, you’ll find the wild beauty of Auvergne, the land with the most dormant volcanos in France. You can hike them, gawk at gorgeous scenery, and fully absorb the nature around you.

A little further north you’ll arrive in the Loire Valley, for a whole wonderland of things to see (like viewing castles, ballooning, biking, tasting world-famous wines, to name a few) and not so far from Paris. I even have a pretty comprehensive travel guide for this area called A French Garden: The Loire Valley.

In the middle of this area is the exciting town of Tours, which can keep you busy for many days before you head out to castle-hop. Once you do, Amboise gives you two castles in the same town and many breathtaking Renaissance structures within an easy drive.

Lastly, let’s head up to Normandy, also close to Paris. In an hour or so, you’ll be in Rouen, the gateway to Normandy. See the half-timbered houses, learn more about Joan of Arc, taste fine Normandy cuisine, and enjoy the constrained bustle of a small but vibrant Normandy city.

While you’re in Normandy, you’ll want to imbibe in the Apple Culture, namely, calvados and cidre. Read more in the post about all the fun things the French do with apples, both eating and drinking!

I hope that will get you started on your plans for your next trip. You can even combine a few of these. Pick a region and make your program, depending on how much time you have. You can rent a car and be free to explore, return the car and take the TGV fast train back to your airport. You can skip Paris, or visit for a few days before you take in other regions.

One thing is for sure. There is enough to see in France to last you many, many vacations to come!