Featured header image by verrier.claude.
France isn’t a country that has incredible cities and towns in short supply. In fact, it’s almost unheard of for anyone to come back from France, especially Northern France, without being well and truly blown away!
But there’s a lot to be gained from straying a little further than the usual tourist trail. Paris is fantastic and Bordeaux is incredibly beautiful (this is a great travel guide to Bordeaux), but it’s not until you discover a hidden gem that you understand just how quaint and picturesque the north of France can really be.
Being such a short distance from the UK, and with regular cross channel ferry services from Brittany Ferries, it’s easy to see the attraction of Northern France. So whether you’re considering a short break or an extended holiday, consider one of the following towns; you may not have realized this side of France even existed!
Pro tip: Stay connected throughout France with a TEP Wireless device; portable wifi in France is the best way to enjoy unlimited internet (on up to 5 devices at a time) without having to rely on local SIMs or unsecure public hotspots.
10 Picturesque Towns In Northern France To Explore
Slowly but surely, the reputation of Ars-en-Ré is beginning to spread and it really isn’t going to be much of a secret for a great deal longer.
An absolutely gorgeous little town where bicycles are the order of the day, it’s a picture-perfect French seaside town that looks and feels absolutely nothing like anywhere else you’ve ever been.
It used to be an important trading spot for sailors many centuries ago, but today represents a dreamy weekend and summer holiday destination for those well and truly in the know.
Boasting a variety of buildings and cobbled streets which in many cases haven’t been touched in over eight centuries, Dinan presents visitors with an unspoiled snapshot of the region’s past.
There is absolutely no more satisfying way of spending a day here than aimlessly wandering the streets, finding a charming café terrace at which to take a seat and simply watching the world go by!
The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village of Domfront represents the perfect base for a trip of deep exploration around the surrounding countryside.
Lose yourself (not literally!) in Andaines Forest, stroll around the Charles Leander Museum and leave as much time as necessary to lap up the local delicacies back in town. There are also some amazing horse riding opportunities nearby, if you’re into the equestrian way of life!
A picture postcard shot of Brittany at its finest, Locronan is considered by locals and travellers alike to be a front runner for the most stunning village in the country. It’s another prime example of a place that has been beautifully preserved and spared the trappings of the modern age.
Though generally something of a day-trip location, book yourself into one of the charming local guest houses for an extended stay and chances are you’ll see why local pride really is on another level.
Getting there: Brittany Ferries run regular ferries from Plymouth to Roscoff – only 60 miles from Locronan.
Flanked by a stunning ancient forest and with a truly enchanting waterfront setting, Paimpont represents a truly delightful daytrip for the whole family.
Legend has it that the forest of Brocéliande was once the home of Merlin the Wizard and King Arthur; a true land of fantasy and mystery.
Each of the seasons brings something uniquely stunning to the landscape of Paimpont, though for obvious reasons it is best enjoyed in the warmer months of the spring and summer.
No longer a matter of personal opinion, Rochefort-en-Terre has won the official accolade of being declared one of the most stunning villages in the whole of France.
The town’s tradition of prominently and lavishly displaying flowers at all times dates back to the turn of the 20th century and is still vigorously followed to this day. The combination of medieval architecture and stunning floral displays paints a picture that is simply breathtaking.
More information: The official tourist website of Rochefort-en-Terre has more information on where to sleep, eat, and things to do. In the top right hand corner is a button to read in English.
Photos by Peter Stenzel
Famed the world over for its prehistoric aligned megaliths which are thought to date back to the same kind of era as Stonehenge, you really don’t have to be a history buff to get a real kick out of Carnac.
The whole place has an unmistaken air of mystery and history in equal measures, while the Quiberon Bay seaside resort promises more family fun than you’ll ever need while in town.
Roscoff is a simply stunning little French seaside town that occupies a prime plot on the Morlaix Bay peninsular, and another town on this list which is easily accessed via the ferry. Brittany Ferries run ferries direct from Plymouth into Roscoff.
Known across the country as one of the most distinct and character-filled villages in France, it is an absolute hit with locals and knowledgeable international visitors alike.
There’s a lovely harbour, fabulous beaches and a perfectly preserved old town centre with many buildings that haven’t changed in over 400 years. Taking the relaxing boat ride to the nearby Île de Batz is also highly recommended.
Charming, charming and charming once again…that’s really the only realistic way of describing Auray!
It’s the quintessential picture postcard snapshot of a wonderfully traditional way of living, with cobbled streets and the historic port bringing to life generations of local history.
Auray also has a reputation for being home to some of the most decadent dining in the region and there’s even an annual oyster festival, which is definitely worth stopping by for!
A place that has been inspiring artists for generations (and it’s not exactly difficult to see why), Pont-Aven is a fantastically pretty and vibrant town in which to spend a day or two.
Things really burst into life in August in particular, where the famed flower festival sees these already stunning streets transformed into a scene fresh from the pages of a fairy tale!
Pont-Aven is tiny enough to be explored in an afternoon, though is more than worth considering spending a night or two soaking up.
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