The South of France is known the world over for its spectacular weather, fine residences and natural beauty, but the region also boasts of many underappreciated qualities. Meanwhile, the Pyrenees are a paradise for the adventure traveler.
While France isn't synonymous with surfing, you can bring your board to Aquitaine, a land of sunshine and sand within the country's borders, while a heavy Basque influence adds color to the culture. Nearby port city Bordeaux is famous for its food, wine and revelry. Nearly every color is vibrant, beautiful and alive in the vegetation of Provence, where blue skies abound and cool breezes blow. Resorts and modern architecture dominate the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France, but it's also the heart of wine country.
The southwest offers Charentes, the birthplace of Cognac. Meanwhile, the Dordogne features vineyards as far as the eye can see along with an inland harbor and excellent nightlife. By day, explore the caves, gardens, villas and leafy forests native to the region.
In the southeast, the Cote d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, was among the world's first playgrounds. From Queen Victoria to Pablo Picasso to Elton John, celebrities and royalty the world over have spent time there. The area's largest city, Nice, has a perpetually sunny climate with light breezes, and the region is known for its resorts such as Cannes (site of the annual Cannes Film Festival), Saint Tropez and Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Visitors to the area often trek to nearby city-state Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Adventure seekers will find an all-seasons heaven among the heights of Southern France. The winter and spring are for skiers, while rafting and canoeing take prominence as the thaw commences and the rivers become raucous and vibrant. Riding and cycling move to the forefront as summer arrives and the walking trails fill.
Of course, your overnight accommodations don't have to be canvas and pole. While camping is available and abundant, cottages, parks, apartments and even resort condos provide all the comforts of home.
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