1. The Loire Valley
Kings, queens, and the bourgeoisie alike spent generations snatching up real estate in this prime, perfect-for-building-castles location. As a result, the Loire Valley is home to some of the most iconic French images outside of Paris.
Here, you can visit Catherine de Medici’s graceful home at Chenonceau, Francois I’s ostentatious hunting lodge at Chambord, and even the grave of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise.
Some of the chateaux have been converted into modern-day hotels and restaurants guaranteed to bring out your inner aristocrat.
Accessible from Paris as a day trip (but with plenty to see and do during an extended stay), the Loire Valley is a great option for travelers wanting to break up their Parisian stay with a non-Parisian adventure.