The 12 least touristy parts of France and why you should visit them
For many people taking their summer holidays in France, the whole experience doesnât work out to be quite as relaxing and peaceful as they wouldâve hoped.
Much of this might be down to the fact that huge parts of lâHÃ©xagone are flooded with tourists during the balmy summer months.
Packed beaches, trouble finding well-priced accommodation and a lack of overall privacy are just some of the problems that peace-loving holidaymakers might shudder at the thought of.
But not everywhere in France - the worldâs number one tourist destination â" do hoards of tourists take over every village and town.
Franceâs National Statistics Body INSEE has broken down 2017âs summer tourism figures and their findings suggest there are still many parts of the country that donât get many visitors.
These are the 12 least touristy departments in the co untry according to INSEE's data which looked at the number of nights booked during the summer period.
And the one thing they have in common is that they are not on the coast, indeed some of the departments are from the beaches, where so many holidaymakers in France tend to head to.
The map below shows the 12 least touristy departments coloured green, whilst those in red are the seven departments that welcome the most tourists in France. All apart from Paris are on the coast.
Click here to zoom into map or download a high-quality version.
Creuse, central France
This sparsely populated rural part of France had the lowest number of tourists of any department in lâHÃ©xagone in the summer of 2017, but that doesnât mean thereâs nothing to see or do.
Ever wanted to hang out with wolves? Why not try the "Wolves of Chabrieres" experience, where you can see wolves in their (almost) natural habitat. It's the top rated thing to do in Creuse on TripAdvisor, and the reviewers love it.
Photo: Daniel Jolivet/Flickr
Territoire-de-Belfort, eastern France
The quietest part of the Burgundy-Franche-ComtÃ© region has a small population and very few visitors.
Itâs about a three-and-a-half hour drive north of Lyon and two hours from Strasbourg.
If you do go, be sure not to miss the Lac de Malsaucy (below), where nature lovers can enjoy watersports, footpaths and mountain biking, or relax on the lake's beach.
Photo: Thomas Bresson/Flickr
Haute-SaÃ´ne, east ern France
Territoire de Belfortâs neighbour to the west is another perfect escape to the French countryside.
While youâre there visit beautiful medieval Pesmes (see below), voted Franceâs favourite village in 2016.
(Photo: Les Plus Beaux Village de France)
Meuse, eastern France
This department that gets its name from the river that runs through it.
Meuse has no big cities but plenty of history, offering a perfect balance of countryside and culture.
Take in a re-enactment of the Battle of Verdun, which was the longest battle of World War One and took place in the woods and hills around Verdun. Or just visit the impressive memorial and museum.
Mayenne, north western France
Just three hours from Paris by car, this peaceful department has two of Franceâs regional natural parks a short drive away: Normandie-Maine and the Perche.
So if you want to leave the capital but donât fancy heading to the busy beaches of the south, this is a great alternative for nature lovers.
Tripadvisor ranks the Musee Robert Tatin at La Maison des Champs and the historic town of Lassay les Chateaux (see pic below) as two of the top attractions in the area.
Ardennes, north eastern France
Overlooked by tourists all year round, this wooded region bordering Belgium is a peaceful backwater less than three hours' drive f rom Paris.
Itâs a great choice for lovers of the great outdoors, drawing in kayakers, climbers, hikers, horse-riders and mountain bikers to its national park.
The fortified village of Rocroi - which is built in a star-shape and comes with a bloody history of wars through the centuries - is a must for history buffs.
Orne, northern France
Tourists in Normandy flock to the regionâs beaches in summer, leaving the inland department of Orne to be just as sleepy as it is all year round.
The natural regional parks of the Perche and Normandie-Maine are located in the southern half of the Orne department and are well worth a visit.
But holidaymakers in this department are in for a gastronomic treat, as Orne is home to the village of Camembert, where the famously creamy French cheese is from.
If youâre passing through, make sure to pay a visit to Camembertâs Cheese museum, which is literally built in the shape of a Camembert cheese. And taste a few dozen samples.
Tarn-et-Garonne, south western France
It might not be on most travellersâ routes but this small department offers unspoilt nature, a rich cultural heritage and interesting history.
The capital Montauban (pic below) is definitely worth a visit.
Also worth checking out are the villages of Auvillar, Lauzerte and Bruniquel (famed for its saffron production), considered to be some of Franceâs most beautiful.
Bruniquel. Photo: Jules78120/Wikicommons
Indre, central France
Slap bang in the middle of France lies Indre, another hidden gem that most tourists overlook.
ChÃ¢teauroux, the capital of the department, is a historical town and two of the departmentâs villages -Saint-BenoÃ®t-du-Sault and Gargilesse-Dampierre (below) â" were also voted two of Franceâs most picturesque.
Also worth visiting is the museum and former home in Nohant of writer George Sand (whose real name was Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin - yes, George Sand was a woman).
Her charming home and breathtaking gardens might make you want to pick up a pen and write a book of your own.
Photos: Daniel Jolivet/Flickr
Haute-Marne, north eastern France
Medieval abbeys, stately homes, modern art museums: Haute-Marne is overflowing with culture for a department with very few visitors and less than 185,000 residents.
Haute-Marne is a three hour drive from both Paris and Lyon.
ChÃ¢teau of Cirey-sur-Blaise. Photo: Wikicommons
If you do visit, you can also go to former French president Charles de Gaulle's old private residence in Colombey-les-Deux-Ãglises, then head to his humble grave in a nearby cemetery.
Charente, western France
Nouvelle-Aquitaineâs Atlantic coast draws in the tourists in summer and Charente remains charmingly quiet by comparison.
This is a nice, short trip for anyone based in neighbouring Dordogne or Bordeaux who fancies a âcultural tippleâ over the border, as both cognac and pineau are from this part of western France. Start off with the Remy Martin tour in Cognac. Maybe best to take a taxi back to the hotel.
Hennessy's tasting room in Cognac. Photo: AFP
Deux-SÃ¨vres, western France
Avid fishermen will find plenty of peace and quiet along the banks of the two rivers that give this largely wooded department its name.
There are also several castles worth visiting in the picture-perfect capital Niort and in the ancient fortified town of Parthenay (see below).
But one of the most popular activities in DEux-Sevres are the Mines Argent des Rois France - the Silver min es at Melle, which were at one time the home of the French mint and the oldest silver mines in Europe.
Parthenay. Photo: WikicommonsSource: Google News France | Netizen 24 France