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  • Writer's pictureAine Dougherty

My Top 5 Picks for the Most Beautiful Places in France

It's Earth Day, so cue the barrage of Instagram photos, which I enjoy nonetheless because they help remind us of our planet's beauty – and how important it is to keep it safe and work every day to lead more sustainable lives.

Today, I'd like to share some of my picks for the most beautiful places I've visited in France (no surprise here, they're mostly in the south!). Over the past year and a half, despite COVID, I've been able to see a wide variety of different landscapes in this country – from canyons that look almost like the ones in Arizona, to stunning sunsets showcasing the Sud's one-of-a-kind light, to fluffy clouds of snow settling on pine trees. I was shocked by the richness and diversity of France's panoramas, all just a few hours from each other.

Keep reading to discover my Top 5!

1. Gorges du Verdon

This national park has to be one of my favorite spots in France. The turquoise water flanked by rising gray and green cliffs, the few minuscule villages perched around the Lac Saint-Croix, the sunsets... Oh, the sunsets. Les Gorges du Verdon, seen by kayak and by car on narrow, twisting roads, will stay gravé in my memory for a long time.

2. Les Vosges

A little closer to home, the Vosges Mountains contain multitudes. In winter, a blanket of snow covers the Alsatian towns hiding in the valleys and hills, blue skies and sun illuminate the verdant paysage in summer, and green and yellow vineyards dot the slopes, ready for the fall harvest. If you like a good balade, you'll love Les Vosges.

3. Roussillon

A unique town in the Luberon, Roussillon is known for its ochre canyons, which come in a bright palette of oranges, yellows, and reds. Definitely don't wear white shoes if you choose to visit Le Sentier des Ocres, but do revel in the striking view and the buildings that echo the canyon's warm shades. An absolute must-see.

4. Les Baux de Provence

A medieval town perched high in Les Alpilles, les Baux de Provence ranks high on my list due to its white stone buildings that melt into the mountainside and turn a golden color at sunset. From the town's peak, vineyards and olive trees stretch as far as the eye can see. Plus, of course, the art exhibit in the magnificent Carrières des Lumières, which has existed long before warehouses with Van Gogh projected on their walls started popping up all over New York.

5. Prades-sur-Vernazobre

I wasn't sure what to expect when my boyfriend took me to the town where he vacationed as a kid. I definitely wasn't sure if I could place Prades-sur-Vernazobre on a map. And yet, despite the unforgiving heat, I, too, fell in love with this quaint, tiny commune in Occitanie and the nearby towns: Minerve, Saint-Chinian, Roquebrun... After all, it's nothing a quick dip in the chilly river and a trip to a local vineyard can't fix.

Have you visited any of my favorites? Which places would you add to my list? (I think I need to see Corsica and La Réunion!)

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