7 Unusual Things To Do in France

By Abi King | France

Oct 11

Unusual things to do in France

France manages to make almost everything look chic and sexy and awash with romance. From the peeling paint of countryside farmhouses to the sweet sugar of macarons, the bright lights of dazzling Paris to the snow-powdered wooden chalets that speckle around the ski resorts, it seems there are plenty of reasons why more people travel to France than any other country in the world.

Unusual Things to Do in France

But you know the drill here on Inside the Travel Lab. What about the unusual things to do?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s go.

7 Unusual Things to Do in France

Red peppers grow everywhere in Espelette France - from @insidetravellab

Unusually Hot: Head to the village of the scarlet peppers

High in the Pyrenees, the tiny town of Espelette splashes bright brilliant red across its chalk white houses and obsessively clean streets. Piments, or red peppers, are the name of the game here in the Basque country but look out as well for cerise noir (black cherry) wine with a hint of – you guess it – pepper.

Wild poppies in the wind on the Ile d'Aix in France via @insidetravellab

Related: Toasting Traditions in France

Unusually Quiet: Spend the night where Napoleon spent his last

The tiny, no cars Ile d’Aix near La Rochelle falls silent once the day trippers go home. Poppies flutter and bicycle paths criss cross around amid quirky museums full of passion and purpose. Napoleon himself spent his last night on French soil here, before being exiled to St Helena by the British.

Cour des Loges - an unusual place to stay in Lyons, France via @insidetravellab

Unusually Scheming: Stay in a hotel that helped defeat the Nazis

The buzzing city of Lyons already has plenty to recommend: great art, Roman ruins and gastronomy that’s high even by stickly French standards. But did you know that you can stay in a hotel that played a key role in the French Resistance? Explore the Old Town and marvel at the strange history Europe has seen over the last millennium or so.

Wonderful words from Marie Curie - via @insidetravellab Life is not easy for any of us. But what

Unusually Visionary: Visit the lab of science’s most decorated woman

Marie Curie may not have been French, but she made her home here, setting up her lab in Paris and earning not one but two Nobel prizes (in two separate science subjects, a feat that’s yet to be repeated.) Learn more about her incredible life and contribution, not to mention the fashion trend for radioactive beauty cream, at the remarkable Curie Museum, Paris.

Toulouse Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge via @insidetravellab

Unusually Artistic: Visit the Moulin Rouge in Former Inquisition

Let me explain.

Toulouse-Lautrec, artist responsible for most of those iconic Moulin Rouge posters, hailed from the Midi-Pyrenees.

Today, the UNESCO-recognised pink city of Albi holds the world’s largest collection of his work in the former bishop’s palace. The art is worth a visit all by itself and picturesque Albi is easy to fall in love with. Yet the final twist in the interest of this place? The frolicking Can-Can dancers now hang in the same room that oversaw a religious genocide centuries ago.

If that doesn’t make you stop and think, perhaps nothing will.

New French Sweet Treat from @insidetravellab

 Unusually Sweet: Forget the Macarons and Try These Instead!

Well, OK, you don’t have to forget the macarons completely. But do head to Angers to try the lavender-laced Quernons d’Ardoise.

Abigail King with T Rex at Terra Botanica

Unusually Floral: Head to a flower based theme park

Sail to the South Americas, shiver along an ice wall and wrestle with dinosaurs and a giant Venus flytrap. The Terra Botanica theme park manages to combine floral education with a cracking day out. That was a sentence I never imagined I’d be writing but there we go: it’s true. Hop on a boat and ride til dawn through the tulips at this strangely fascinating place.

What have I missed? What are some of your favourite unusual things to do in France?

Unusual things to do in France - Find exciting and unique things to do in France, from Paris to Lyons and beyond. When planning to travel to France, check out these food ideas, cultural ideas and quirky ideas and have a great time! #Paris #France #TravelFrance #Unusual

About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

  • Visited France for the first time last week. A short stop in Aix-en-Provence was delightful. Must explore more of this country!

    • Abi King says:

      Ah, I LOVE Aix! Glad you got to France…as it’s one of our closest neighbours it almost feels like home to me :-)

  • Jan says:

    Nice list, let’s hope Marie Curie’s lab isn’t radioactive anymore:P

    A nice addition would be to explore Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement in Paris… go graffiti-viewing here to enjoy some great art for free!

    • Abi King says:

      Hehe. I don’t think she ever advocated the radioactive beauty cream. But she did die as a result of her experiments so, yes, let’s hope they’ve all fixed that by now! Thanks for the suggestion. I hope to get back to Paris within the year and will try that out. (The last time I visited the 10th it was pouring with rain and I scurried around as fast as I could…)

  • Darlene says:

    Have a cup of tea and choux a la creme at Odette’s with a perfect view of Notre Dam. My favourite memory. Need to check out some of your suggestions.

    • Abi King says:

      It’s been too long since I was in Paris. Hoping to be back there soon!

  • C. Randen says:

    Great ideas! Going to France this summer, going to have put these things on my list!

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