10 places in France you should write about (that aren’t Paris)

Hi friends! I hope you all are well πŸ’›

I thought I’d do something a bit different today, a kind of blog post that, hopefully, will give you some much needed escape and wanderlust from it all, too.

A little earlier this month, I mentioned some things I’d love to read more of in YA books and turned half of it into a rant about books set in France being 99,9% of the time, set in the capital city, Paris. I asked, and a number of you mentioned they’d be interested in hearing about some beautiful places in my country, so here it is!

I hope these places will inspire you, both to put these on your bucket list, to give you an escape and make you dreamy for some beautiful places and maybe even write or get ideas for some new story settings, too. (hey. I’m allowed to dream, right.)

All photographs used in this post are from unsplash.com.

🌍 10 places in France to write about

Alsace, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: Because I live there? 😳 I am so completely biaised here, but I think that my little corner of France deserves much love and many, many stories, too. I mean, doesn’t it look dreamy? There are little villages and bigger cities, beautiful half-timbering houses, gigantic vineyards and great food. In the summer, it’s hot and lush and beautiful, in winter we get some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world.

I am so biaised here.

Some cities and villages: Strasbourg, Colmar, Eguisheim, RibeauvillΓ©…

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: Oh I think I could write all the contemporary stories here, the ones filled with romance and walking down the paved streets, with friendships and late-nights out laughing. I don’t know. Happy books, I guess.

Lille, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: I’m a little biaised here too, because I consider this city to be kind of a home, too, since I studied there for 3 years. There’s something about the little red brick houses, the charm of the little streets in the city center…I just really like it okay. Also, it’s really close to Belgium, a short train ride away from London and from Paris.

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I kind of want to write a story about college here. University years in the vibrant city, finding your people and your crowd and yourself, too?


Bordeaux, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: I first visited Bordeaux a couple years ago and fell in love with this city. It’s nicknamed “Paris of the South“, because it shares a lot of the same Parisian architecture, while sharing some of the Southern paved streets and architecture, too. I loved this city, its streets, the Garonne River crossing it.

It is not in the city of Bordeaux, but a couple miles away from there is a wonderful place I dream of going to, the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe.

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I don’t know why, but the city of Bordeaux makes me think of friendships. Like, the dream squad of friends walking aroud the city on the evenings, rushing to the beach and sand dune in the summer, breaking hearts and themselves and putting themselves back together again. Like a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants kind of story.

Bretagne, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: I have been to Bretagne (Brittany, in English, Bretagne is the French equivalent) once or twice when I was younger, but I definitely want to go back. The region is stunning, with its beautiful, vibrant ocean side, small and bigger towns, I don’t know, it gives me magical vibes.

Some cities and villages: Rennes, Saint-Malo, Quimper, Brest…

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I asked my sister and she actually had a fantastic suggestion for that one: a magical realism story. It would perfectly fit this eerie, beautiful region of France, something magical about the Atlantic Ocean maybe? Sort of a Summer of Salt-feels kind of story.

Provence-Alpes CΓ΄te d’Azur, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: There’s something kind of nostalgic to me about the south of France. I spent a whole lot of summers there as a kid and I don’t know. The crowded beaches, the southern architecture, the fields and heat and long, endless summer nights… It is a beautiful place. Best experiences NOT in the summer, because CROWDS, but well.

Some cities and villages: Nice, Marseille, Avignon, Aix en Provence…

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: A summer contemporary romance would be incredible for this setting!!

Annecy, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: Annecy is one of the most popular, touristic spot in ALL of France and… well, I mean, look at this, you get it? I get it. Cobbled streets, the canal going through the old town, the gigantic and beautiful Annecy lake… it’s a perfect spot to get away and get lost for a little while.

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I don’t know why, but I’d see a good contemporary mystery set in this town. the chase through the little streets, the lake and its mountains towering below… I feel like it’d be a very atmospheric, thrilling mystery read.

Lyon, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: Lyon is a stunning city and I love it, because it feels like SO many different cities all at once. The modernity of the city center, the old Roman Amphitheater, the river, the little streets and passageways hidden in the city, the Basilica of Notre Dame de FourviΓ¨re… There’s so much to see and do and a little of everything for everyone.

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I’m definitely seeing, for some reason, some kind of historical story…. maybe a historical fantasy of some kind, or something based on mythology? I’m rambling here, and this is not my writing area of expertise, but, I mean: the architecture, the old Roman Amphitheatre and everything else I mentioned above screams that.

Normandy, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: Normandy is a region in France high, very high on my bucket list. There are just so many beautiful cities and little hidden gems (and tourists spots) there, it’s filled with world and French history alike and, look at it. It looks so stunning.

Some cities and places: Saint Malo, Etretat, Mont Saint. Michel…

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I kind of see a fantasy story happening in these streets. Something vibrant with sirens and kings and I don’t know, I’m rambling, but it feels like a fantasy kind of place.

Auvergne, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: The region of Auvergne feels like a place you’d go to get lost, like, really. It’s mostly rural and has loads and loads of mountains, skiing, dormant volcanoes and stunning views, too.

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: I don’t know why, but this place makes me want to write about explorers in the mountains. Road trips, hiking, discovering the world, something like that. Maybe a contemporary with a group of people away from the real world, getting lost in the mountains? Or that could turn into something fantasy-like, maybe….

La VallΓ©e de la Loire, France

πŸ” Why it’s a great place: La VallΓ©e de la Loire (The Loire Valley, in English), in the middle of the Loire River, is known for its gorgeous architecture and LOTS of stunning castles (like, more than 300…. aerm). I mean, no words necessary here, just look at this stunning place.

πŸ“ The kind of story I’d write: ALL. THE. ROYALTY. I mean, look at these stunning castles and outdoor spaces. This screams American Royals.

β˜‚οΈ You might also be interested in:Β 10 things I want to read more of in YA books

What do you think of this post? Did you discover some new places to put on your travel bucket-list?

Do you think any of these places would inspire great stories? Do you have any cities, countries or places in mind you’d LOVE people to write more about? Let me know in comments!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

88 thoughts on “10 places in France you should write about (that aren’t Paris)

  1. Omg yes! I was waiting for this post to happen! I agree Alsace is probably my top one pick as well, I can’t wait to read Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore because it sets in Strasbourg! I think that next up would be Lyon for me, and then Bordeaux and Bretagne.
    Honestly so many unexplored potential here. All of your picks are amazing ideas but I have to say Annecy and VallΓ©e de la Loire are rΓ©gions I didn’t think about before today and they sound AMAZING.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay so how did I NOT know that McLemore’s book was set in Strasbourg? I NEED IT NOW. Thank you for letting me know!! ❀
      I'm so happy you liked this post and my picks, thank you so much! Agree, so many of these places would be amazing. I guess we just need to get to writing now πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this article and you’re too right! Paris isn’t my favorite city in France, by far. Alsace is so beautiful! I love all the storks everywhere!

    I have a soft spot for the Occitanie/Languedoc region. Have spent the past four summers there at a Writer’s retreat.

    Thanks for sharing! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh well there are just too many places, I couldn’t think of everything, this post would have been way, way too long ahah πŸ™‚ thank you for the suggestion! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Omg this post!!! This was an amazing read ❀ I've lowkey been in love with France for my whole life 😳 and this post felt… almost like a virtual tour? I can't describe it, but the way you talked about all the places with a personal touch was lovely ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These places are so beautiful! I wish I could just spend an entire month wandering through France, seeing it all. One of my characters is from Avignon, and I had so much fun researching!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These are all such amazing places!! I went to Alsace last year with my parents and we absolutely loved it there! Especially since we stayed about ten minutes away from the Rhine so we could take the free ferry and hop over to Germany for a day. As much as I love Paris, I also want to see more stories that take place in other parts of France, especially since I’ve been to so many different parts of the country myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s amazing, I’m so happy you had a great time here πŸ₯°
      I’m glad you agree, there are so many places left for books to explore! πŸ₯°


      1. Wonderful post. All of these places look stunning and I loved seeing your suggestions for stories set in each of them. It looks so pretty where you live!! The pained houses by the water so make me want to visit. I seeing different houses like that. Ooh I actually heard of Mont Saint Michel when I was looking up France before. It instantly made me think of St Michael’s Mount tbh as they’re both set out a bit like that and have similar names. And the last place looks so, so stunning 😍 I want to visit.
        😲 I can’t believe no story set in France mentioned Les Mis or the French Revolution – both seem very popular in YA fiction lately. I so love the idea of the historical fantasy with mythology and ya mystery though. And yes the last setting looks wonderful for royals!! I kind of want vampires too πŸ˜‚ I think I’m really craving books about them right now as instead of the library books that I should be picking up when I finally try to read again I keep thinking about Blood Countess & The Beautiful instead πŸ™ˆ

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahh thank you, Charlotte! ❀
        Oh yes definitely, these themes are quite popular lately ahah and I think that's really great! πŸ˜€ but I am also craving other kind of stories set in France ahah πŸ™‚
        Thank you so much!! ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, this is what I was waiting for, Marie!! To be honest, all of the places look so beautiful and your post makes me want to travel again… and the last place you mentioned; I can totally see all the royalty in there! // I’d actually like to read more books which are set in Spain (I believe that there are probably quite some contemporary novels and historical fiction books out there) but I haven’t read them… and I’d really like to read books set in South America, Middle Eastern and South Asian countries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you, this makes me so happy! ❀
      Oh yes, some books set in Spain would be amazing, and agree with all of the other places you mentioned as well, I hope to find some gems soon! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful post!! I’d love to visit Normandie someday! Bordeaux is my second favourite city, I love it so much. I could totally see a maritime novel set there as well, the city has such a rich history.
    This post really, really makes me miss France πŸ˜€
    and spots I’d love to read more about are the ArdΓ¨che (my fave region ever) and my city, Leipzig πŸ™‚
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. AHH. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more wanderlust ever than I just did reading this post!! Thank you so much for putting this together~ wow, I really would love to travel to all of these places…or even just one…I can’t get over the breathtaking beauty of it!! I’ve never been to France, or out of the US for that matter, but it is now very much near the top of my bucket list. All the book suggestions you gave fit so well, too! I loved this post, MarieπŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a cool post!! Haha Paris is definitely overused in books and media, these are all such beautiful places. I mean there are lots of cities I think people should write about more; just anything that’s not New York/London/Paris/LA etc I guess haha, but personally I would love more books set in Beijing (yes we are indeed biased people haha). I’ve heard that Nice is a really nice place also?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you Cas ❀ Oh yes I so agree with you, that would be SO great! And yes! Nice is really a pretty city, I would set an amazing summer romance story haha πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes! There are other cities in France, where stories can play out. I always feel like I read books set in the same places, while I know there are plenty of cities/towns/states/countries out there. I loved getting to see other parts of your country (sorry, I have only been to Paris and Disneyland Paris). All the places look so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here, I really hope I can find more books with different settings! And thank you so, so much Sam! Hoping that someday you can visit other cities here! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Gahhhh France is just so GORGEOUS! I have been to Nice and Aix-En-Provence and they were both like, mind-blowingly beautiful. My parents have been to Strasbourg and Normandy too, and the pictures are absolutely drool worthy. One of these days I would love love LOVE to see more of the country! Thank you so much for sharing the gorgeous pictures (and inspiration!)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, this is such a fantastic post, Marie! πŸ₯° Apart from visiting Paris two years ago, I only went to Strasbourg two times (it was lovely but always such short visits), but you really make me want to travel more of France! My wanderlust has truly been ignited by this post 😭

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I absolutely love living in my city, and I think it’d very hard for me to move out forever, but if I could, I’d definitely go live in France for a few years! (if I could do another semester/year abroad, I would go there for sure). One of my favourite subjects growing up was French (and English, I just love languages hahah) and my french teachers have always had a great impact on me. In middle school, the teachers were all Portuguese, but in college they’re usually from a French-speaking country, and idk, some of my favourite teachers were the french ones xD For example, my French teacher at Germany, she’s from Marseille and I absolutely loved her classes, she was so lovely and she showed us AMAZING pictures of France. I’m not gonna lie, I wanna go to Paris really badly, but I also wanna explore more of France and I loved this post, Marie!! ❀ And the writing prompts left me needing those books too! πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH YES I’d love to have you there, I’ll give you a tour and we’ll eat fabulous food ❀
      It’s so great that you had such a positive experience with your French teacher, it really makes you love the language even more in a way, ahah. I know it was completely the other way around with my German teachers 😦
      Thank you so much!! ❀

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I’ve been to a few of these places, and I agree that they’d be amazing settings for books πŸ™‚ I went to Normandie a few years ago because my friends family’s from there, and it was incredible ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ahhh, France is such a beautiful place, and I wish I could visit it someday πŸ₯Ί It’s so sad that many authors overlook these places in favor of Paris! But I loved reading about which stories you could imagine in these places, and I hope that a YA book set in France but not Paris gets published some day! (Just saying… I’d totally read a book by you that’s set in any of these places, hehe)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WOW I WANT TO GO TO FRANCE SO BAD. All of these photos are gorgeous and make my travel itch grow stronger than ever! I love that you included what kinds of stories you’d like to see in all of these places – I would absolutely read all of these πŸ˜€ Based on those pictures, a magical realism story in Bretagne would be AMAZING. And I could definitely imagine some kind of cozy mystery set in Annecy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aaah this made my day πŸ₯° I hope you will be able to visit someday and i’m just so glad you like my stories ideas, too! πŸ₯°


  17. I have to admit, I am kind of obsessed with Paris and would love to visit someday, but I might have to lengthen any possible trip and include all these stunning places as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Um, okay, I loved this post a million. You’ve inspired my wanderlust royally and there are so many beautiful places in France I now what to visit (ESPECIALLY where you live, because it is both gorgeous and you live there, which automatically makes it magical and amazing). I love this post so much, so thank you for writing it!!


  19. You definitely gave me wanderlust, that’s for certain! Every single picture in this post is absolutely beautiful! I didn’t know much about France, besides for whatever I learned in history class, but mostly when I think of France, Paris comes to mind. This post expanded my view of the country and made me ache to visit! Forget Paris, I want to see the canals and the castles and the little towns and the beautiful architecture from all these other regions!

    I’m not a writer, so I can’t even try to do these places justice by placing them into a story. But France has definitely jumped to the top of my list of places I want to visit. Just reading this post and looking at all the gorgeous pictures made me feel so happy and relaxed. I can only imagine how much better the in person experience is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaah this makes me so, so happy to hear ❀ I'm so glad I could make you discover some other parts of the country and hope you'll get to visit someday πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Maybe I’m biased as well, but I also think that Alsace is the most stunning out of all these cities too πŸ˜‰ I really loved how you included ideas for stories for each city, what a cute idea! πŸ₯°

    Liked by 1 person

  21. omg marie i have so many new places i want to visit now!!! it’s funny how books tend to focus on certain cities or areas in terms of settings. i’d love to see my home city of washington. dc in literature more often but weirdly we rarely are featured as a setting despite being the US capitol (and just a great place in general!). nyc gets featured a lot as a US setting but i think that’s because it’s where the publishing industry is centered in the US and thus a lot of writers live there. regardless, you’re totally right that authors should branch out and explore other settings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aaah this makes me so, so happy, thank you so much! ❀
      OH YES. I'd love to read more books set in washington dc as well. I got lucky enough to visit a couple of years ago and really fell in love with it all, i'd love to go back someday ❀
      thank you so, so much!! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  22. oh, i loved reading this post so much πŸ₯Ί i really liked seeing all the pictures you shared of these beautiful french places, and also getting introduced to new french places i hadn’t heard of! (it’s reminding me that i need to keep up with my french over the summer haha) and la vallΓ©e de la loire absolutely looks so royal and regal, i love it πŸ₯Ί

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  23. Vive la France! We def wants more books set in France! I don’t know if you know them, but the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness is mostly set in Europe, and half of it is set in Auvergne! Also, I don’t know if you know it already but I discovered lately Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore and it is set in Strasbourg (16th-century AND contemporary Strasbourg)

    Liked by 1 person

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