Alternative France – vacations that escape the tourist trail

Even to the most frequent visitor, France has much to offer. But step back from the crowded bus tours to the same old location and you’ll discover quaint French villages surrounded by beautiful scenery, history and plenty of rich culture.

Once away from the madding crowds, you’ll have the chance to meet friendly locals and sample some authentic French food and wine without the crazy price tags. Your holiday in France doesn’t have to fit the mould.

Here are a few alternative French holidays that will take you off the beaten track and into the heart of the French culture.

Capture the Dordogne on a photography holiday

french village market in Dordogne France

Capturing the local market at night

Taking good photographs on holiday is as important now as it has ever been. And if you’re going to head off the beaten track, you’ll want to document it, right? On this photography vacation, photographer Paul will take you on 6 planned excursions. Each of which will help develop your photography skills, learning new tricks and tips every day.

You’ll visit a French chateau, snap many countryside vistas, explore local farmer’s markets and much more.

Related: Guest Carole shares her photography experience in France

Find out how you can join Paul and Pam on this photography holiday in France.

Make your own jewellery on holiday in Gascony

restored french barn by pool at night

The stunning studio and pool by night

Gascony is famed for being a gourmet paradise – from delicious duck and succulent wild boar to charming local wines and the famous Gascony Armagnac.

This holiday will give you the chance to get creative while still having plenty of time to enjoy the local culture and scenery. Join your host Caroline on guided excursions, enjoy a slower-paced life as you relax but the pool and let Caroline’s husband Adam spoil you with multi-course dinners al fresco.

Experience Gascony with a creative twist on this jewellery making holiday.

Create your own menu on a cooking break in Normandy

french apple tarts on wooden table

Delicious homemade apple tarts – fresh out the oven

Nothing immerses you in food culture more than sampling local food and ingredients fresh from the source. This private cooking holiday with Spencer will see you working with the chef to put together and cook the menu of your dreams.

Meet Chef Spence, our chef in Normandy. Create your own personal menu. Shop for ingredients at the local shops and markets. Cook.

Read more: Meet Chef Spencer, our holiday host in Normandy

You’ll be staying in your own private cosy gite where you’ll join Spence to cook homely French dishes. You don’t get this from just any run-of-the-mill vacation.

Find out how you can join Spence on a French cookery break in Normandy.

Make unique fragrances on a perfume making holiday in Grasse

group try different scents in Grasse perfume studio

Learning to combine scents in the perfume studio

Everyone visits Paris, the capital of France. But not everyone gets to visit Grasse, the perfume capital.

Surrounded by rolling fields of lavender, jasmine, mimosa, orange blossoms and violets, Grasse is the perfect base to create your own unique perfume and room fragrance.

You’ll be guided by expert ‘Noses’ and even have the chance to visit the studio’s factory. Not to mention accommodation in a 4-star hotel complete with swimming pool.

Tried and tested: GoLearnTo’s Jane makes her own unique perfume in France

Book your place on this unique perfume making break now.

Brush up on watercolour painting in the Languedoc

group of painters painting en plein air in Languedoc

Paint stunning scenery ‘en plein air’

France is beautiful. With inspiration all around, it’s no wonder that the country has produced such painters as Renoir and Fragonard. Admiring Monet’s Water Lilies covering the walls of Musée de l’Orangerie is great. But being inspired by the beautiful French countryside to create your own paintings is even better.

Experience local life under the guidance of professional watercolour artist Simon. Bring scenes from France home to hang on your living room wall. Feel like a Monet.

Brush up on your painting skills on this painting holiday in the Languedoc with Simon.

Which one would you like to try? Let us know by commenting below…

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