Relax by the Water in France

Who doesn’t like to R&R by some beach, lake or river where the air is fresh and atmosphere chilled, right? Luckily in France, you’re never too far from the water. Here are five places you might like to consider visiting the next time you’re over and want to include a break or two from the bright lights.

Biarritz

Famous for its beaches, Biarritz (External link) in the French Basque Country is about 4hr 30min from Paris. Here, you’ll find a rather unique marriage of a laid-back surf culture and upscale restaurants, spas and boutiques. Old world opulence aside, don’t miss its key attractions including the lighthouse, the Russian Orthodox Church with its glorious blue dome, the Casino with its fine art-deco ceiling, Place Sainte-Eugenie and more! Oh, the food is fabulous as well, and different to the usual French delights given its Spanish influence.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel

An island commune in Normandy in the north of France, Mont Saint Michel (External link) is a 5hr 22min train ride away from central Paris. Famous for its 11th century Romanesque Abbey Church, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 for its historical and cultural significance. Visited by more than three million people each year, Mont-Saint Michel was an important pilgrimage of faith during the Middle Ages, second only to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Should you go, the best time to visit is early in the morning before the crowds set in.

Bordeaux

One of France’s most popular wine regions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bordeaux (External link) in the southwestern part of France is just over two hours away from Paris. Described by Queen Elizabeth as “the very essence of elegance” during her last visit, this is where you can take a relaxing cruise along its three waterways (the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the Gironde estuary), while indulging in some of their local award winning drops. Our advice is to visit during the harvest months in September and October when the weather is delightful.

Nice

Sitting pretty on the French Riviera, Nice (External link) is almost six hours by train from Paris and is a great base for visiting other nearby resort cities like Cannes, Antibes and Monaco. One of the most visited cities in France welcoming about four million people each year, this is where you’ll find year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, a lively atmosphere and delicious French and Italian fusion cuisine. Popular among artists and the ritzy crowds, you’ll also find that art museums abound in this region.

Annecy

If you’re a nature lover, then you mustn’t miss Lake Annecy (External link) for this is where you’ll have the best time water-skiing, rowing, kite surfing, cycling, paragliding, climbing, hiking, canyoning and much more, against the stunning and verdant landscape. And for some history, check out the castles in the city of Annecy or get lost wandering along the canals of this “Venice of the Alps”. Less than 4hrs away from Paris, Annecy is also close to Switzerland, making a great stopover destination if you’re heading over to the Alpine country next.

For more travel inspiration and information on France Rail Passes and tickets, head to www.raileurope.com.au (External link) , where you can use the destination guide (External link) and interactive map to help with the trip planning.