Travel in France: three smart destinations to discover

To the point You're wondering where to go in France. Spotlight on inspiring destinations that combine sustainable development with must-do activities in 2024.

Normandy, Occitania and the Southern Alps are the talk of the town! In the latest “Explore France, le voyage futé” tour , organized by Atout France, it’s clear that these regions have a lot to offer for a rewarding vacation.

Of course, the Paris region is on everyone’s lips with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, a number of other regions are making the most of sustainable travel by respecting local resources and rethinking mobility.


Tourism in Normandy

Normandie Impressionniste 2024

Impressionism celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2024. The atmosphere in Normandy is sure to be festive, as its legendary charm and distinctive light have inspired painters such as Millet, Degas, Delacroix and Monet.

The Normandie Impressionniste Festival will offer numerous activities from March 22 to September 22, 2024. American artists James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Robert Wilson, and English painter David Hockney will be featured.

“Impression, rising sun” by Claude Monet. Photo credit: Facebook Normandie Impressionist

Among the events at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, a flagship exhibition will be devoted to James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), who shared Claude Monet’s enthusiasm for Japanese art. David Hockney, meanwhile, will be presenting a number of previously unseen canvases painted in Normandy.

Rouen Cathedral will be the setting for a brand new sound and light show by visual director Robert Wilson. As for Miguel Chevalier, a pioneer of virtual and digital art, he will be offering an interactive video projection on the ice of a skating rink.

How about learning Monet’s techniques? Sophie Justet loves painting at Cap Fagnet. This local artist offers plein-air painting sessions for all levels.

  • Normandie Impressionniste 2024
  • Discover the program
  • March 22 to September 22, 2024
“The Beach at Trouville” by Eugène Boudin. Photo credit: Facebook Normandie Impressionist

80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy

The year 2024 also marks the 80thanniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Numerous events will be held throughout the year. The international ceremony will take place in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, at Omaha Beach, on June 6, 2024.

The D-Day festival Normandy is one of the events not to be missed. Several activities will be offered from June1 to June 16, 2024. Here are some of them:

  • The Canadian landing at Courseulles on June 1, 2024. Tour guide Corine Vervaeke will (re) introduce you to the history of this event;
  • The 37th edition of the Marathon de la Liberté, Normandy Running Festival from May 31 to June 2, 2024 in Caen ;
  • Concert pour la Paix on Riva-Bella – Sword Beach on Saturday, June 1 at 9 p.m. in Ouistreham;
  • The Freedom Concert in Colleville-sur-mer on June 2, 2024, at 4pm. You can try your hand at lindy-hop, a dance from the 40s and 50s.
Omaha Beach - Photo credit : Pixabay

Acadians will be in the spotlight from August 7 to 15, 2024 at Courseulles-sur-Mer, for the 19th edition of the La Semaine acadienne festival. Here are just a few of the events:

  • A historical walk, guided by Canadian guides from the Juno Beach Centre;
  • A gathering and parade of vehicles from the 1940s;
  • A festival of documentaries on Canada and the Battle of Normandy;
  • Tap dance demonstrations to music from the 40s.
Photo credit : Facebook La Semaine acadienne

The Juno Beach Centre pays tribute to the Canadians who perished in the Second World War. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), you can discover the new temporary exhibition entitled “Rising to the Challenge”, from March 1, 2024.

The museum has also set itself apart with its sustainable development plan, which promotes eco-mobility around the museum.

Ideas for activities

Here are some suggestions for discovering Normandy:

Etretat - Photo credit : Pixabay

Tourism in Occitania

France’s second largest region is sure to win you over with its many assets. These include 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, eight regional nature parks, 44 winter sports resorts and over 50 marinas.

Car-free vacations

What better way to discover Occitanie than from station to station: 19 rail lines criss-cross the region. The Occitanie Rail Tour won the Rail Tourism Awards in 2023 as the best regional initiative for sustainable tourist mobility.

Occitanie rail tour - Photo credit : Tourisme Occitanie

Ponds, creeks, vineyards and the Mediterranean as far as the eye can see: a breathtaking panorama awaits you on the Côte Vermeille, Perpignan / Cerbère line. Discover the richness of the Catalan terroir through villages such as Collioure, Port-Vendres and Banyuls-sur-Mer.

World heritage treasures

Since 2023, the Maison Carrée has been Occitanie’s 10th UNESCO site. This perfectly preserved monument is the best-preserved ancient temple in the world.

The region also boasts other UNESCO World Heritage sites and monuments. Here are just a few to visit:

Medieval city of Carcassonne - Photo credit: Facebook Voyage Occitanie

Toulouse, the pink city

Toulouse, capital of the Occitanie region, will charm you with its pink brick facades, rich heritage and culinary delights.

The 2nd edition of the urban opera Gardien du Temple will be held from October 25 to 27, 2024, featuring the Minotaur Asterion and the spider Ariadne.

The Minotaur of Toulouse - Photo credit: Facebook La Machine

In 2023, the town was awarded the UNESCO City of Music label. Toulouse thus becomes the second French city to be honored after Metz. Electro fans? Don’t miss the Bricks festival from July 5 to 6, 2024.

Note that Air Canada is the only airline to offer the Montreal-Toulouse flight year-round.

The Venice of Languedoc

The Escale à Sète festival of maritime traditions will return from March 26 to April 1, 2024. The maritime world will be in the spotlight in Sète with a hundred or so traditional boats.

From canals lined with colorful facades to its fishermen’s kitchen, this town also offers 12 km of sand and a natural area including vineyards and ancient salt pans.

Ideas for activities

Here are some suggestions for activities in Occitanie:

The Maison Carrée in Nîmes. Photo credit: Facebook Arènes de Nîmes

Tourism in the Southern Alps

With peaks topping 3,000 metres, you’ll be won over by the sixty or so large ski areas and village resorts offering beautiful blue skies almost all year round! In fact, the sun shines 300 days a year, according to the Comité Régional de Tourisme Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Sport and nature getaway

The Southern Alps are a true paradise for sports and nature enthusiasts: this area is home to 2,500 kilometers of downhill ski slopes, cross-country and ski touring routes, as well as numerous icefalls.

As for cycling fans, they’ll have the opportunity to test out several mythical cols popularized by the Tour de France, which will in fact pass through the Southern Alps in July 2024.

In figures :

  • Seven natural parks and two UNESCO Geoparks and national geological reserves;
  • 26 lakes, including Europe’s largest natural high-altitude lake, Lac d’Allos ;
  • Europe’s highest town, Briançon at 1,326 metres;
  • 65 ski resorts and Nordic areas.

Actions combining eco-responsibility and attractiveness

As part of its commitment to sustainable development, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region provides bus and train services to ensure easy access to the resorts.

Lac d'Allos - Facebook Regional Tourism Committee Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

The Southern Alps is a pilot region for the ecological transition. Initiatives include:

  • Renewable energies: Serre Chevalier produces a third of its annual electricity needs, mainly using hydroelectricity;
  • For soft mobility: the Ubaye valley is experimenting with free shuttles serving the whole valley;
  • For building renovation: Orcières-Merlette uses larch wood shingles on the facades, a local wood that needs no treatment.

Ideas for activities

Here are some suggestions for activities in the Southern Alps:

  • Visit the most beautiful spots, including Briançon ;
  • Discover cheese specialities through tours;
  • Observe the stars from the Alps, renowned for the quality of its night sky;
  • Marvel at the wonders of summer with family hikes;
  • Opt for the thrills of canyoning;
  • Jump into the best rivers.

Finally, the region is buzzing with excitement about the 2030 Winter Olympics: in November 2023, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it had selected the French Alps as its sole bid.

Briançon - Photo credit: Facebook Regional Tourism Committee Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Easily collect points for your trip

There are several strategies for saving money when traveling. One of these methods is to use credit card rewards points to travel inexpensively.

The winning combo? Credit card sign-up bonuses and optimized daily spending. As you can see, the hunt is on for five points per dollar to quickly accumulate rewards.

You’d like to get started, but aren’t familiar with points and credit cards? Our beginner’s guide will give you a clearer picture.

Treat yourself to free nights

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card can easily get you free hotel nights. In fact, it was the best credit card in the “Hotel” category in Canada in 2024, according to our rankings. These points can be used at over 8,000 hotels worldwide.

With just a few clicks of the card’s welcome bonus, you could book a free night in a luxury hotel, or even several nights, depending on the hotel category.

Tempted by Normandy? The Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde Autograph Collection is a historic 15th-century property in Rouen. This five-star establishment boasts a 700 m² spa.


Pay for your flight with Aeroplan

To get to Toulouse with Aeroplan points, you could take advantage of the welcome bonus of the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card.

As mentioned above, Air Canada is the only airline to offer year-round flights between Montreal and Toulouse. For travel on March 22, 2024, in economy class, 35,000 points are required + CAD 67 in taxes for a one-way ticket.


Where to go for cheap holidays in France?

The best cheap deals are to be found in Normandy, according to Lonely Planet. In general, it’s cheaper to travel out of season. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to check out some of our B&Bs and campsites, as well as youth hostels and bed-and-breakfasts.

What documents do I need to travel to France?

France is part of the Schengen area. According to the Canadian government, Canadian citizens do not need a tourist visa for stays of 90 days or less within a 180-day period. Your Canadian passport must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of your expected departure from the Schengen area.

Do I need a visa for France?

Canadian citizens can travel to France without a tourist visa for stays of 90 days or less within a 180-day period. Long-stay or residence visas will be required for stays of more than 90 days, according to the Canadian government.

What's the best time to travel in France?

Skiing or seaside? It all depends on your tastes! According to, the best time to travel is from April to June, and from September to November. Leaving outside school vacation periods means avoiding the crowds.

How to travel cheaply in France?

Avoid bank charges when traveling! Some credit cards charge no conversion fees for foreign currency transactions. This saves you a 2.5% fee. You can also use your points to pay for certain expenses.

Where to travel in France with your dog?

There’s no shortage of destinations where you can travel with your dog. Before booking your hotel, be sure to check whether the establishment accepts dogs. Several destination suggestions are available on the website.

Where is the Canadian embassy in France?

The Canadian Embassy is located at 130, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

Where can I find travel tips for visiting Paris?

The Government of Canada has compiled all useful information on the situation in France on the website.

How do I renew a Canadian passport in Canada?

To renew a Canadian passport, there are several steps to follow: gather the necessary documents, check eligibility and prepare the application fee. Here’s our step-by-step guide.

Why take out travel insurance?

The unexpected happens so quickly! Travel insurance is highly recommended for peace of mind. Among the interesting alternatives, soNomad offers medical and cancellation insurance for Canadians. Many credit cards also offerexcellent travel insurance.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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