France: Where do the locals go?

Half term tip-offs: where do the locals go?*

It’s well known that the French holiday in France, far more than us Brits stick to UK shores – but this year’s autumn half term will likely see residents staycationing even closer to home.

On a mission to unearth a few hidden secrets for our own travels whenever we are next across the Channel, we found out where the locals hang out within their own regions. So shelve those guides, close those blogs and see Normandy, Paris, Bordeaux, the Loire and the mountains through native eyes… If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line at

*For when these places are open, with no curfew, no local government restrictions, no quarantine… 😉


Whoever you are, the mountains have something to suit at this time of year. Families can visit Mellifera, the European dark bee sanctuary in Les Menuires, to learn more about safeguarding this endangered species. Friends can get together for a rustic cheese tasting at the Ferme des Etroits in Valloire, while couples seeking romance can enjoy a unique cabin stay 10 metres above ground at the Cabanes Entre Terre et Ciel in Val d’Arly, with a view of imposing Mont Blanc. 


The lucky Pays de la Loire residents are never far from a tipple or two, but as autumn wears on, the vineyards of Anjou make a popular getaway spot. Don your hiking boots, saddle up on a bike or horse, or book a quirky tour by vintage VW Camper. Treat yourself to lunch overlooking the vines at Michelin-starred La Table de la Bergerie, and say yes to that extra glass with dinner and a stay at charming B&B La Chambre du Moulin in Savennières. Kids love the drama of Bioparc de Doué, the world’s only troglodyte zoo.


Where do the locals hang out in the capital? No berets, no clichés, just all the quirks and warm welcomes you want when on holiday. Here’s a selection of bars, cafés and restaurants where the true ‘parigots’ go to escape their daily routine. For a truly Parisian culture fix, head to the modern cultural centre Le 104, explore 59 Rivoli art squat or stop by the Musée Bourdelle, the frozen-in-time studio of French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. Fashion enthusiasts: wander around the Vintage Kilo Shopsnear Saint-Paul station and hunt down a real bargain.


Normandy is home to many famous landmarks, but locals staying there this month are likely to venture off the beaten track. The Perche Regional Natural Park boasts picturesque villages, cosy hotels, rustic restaurants and autumn colours in abundance on its many woodland trails. We recommend a spot of afternoon tea at the Maison d’Horbé, followed by antiques hunting in beautiful Bellême, topped off with a traditional Norman dinner at the Restaurant du Tribunal and stay at the gorgeous Maison Maleyrand.


When a Bordelais wants a break from the tourist traps, there’s a plethora of authentic gems to offer respite. Check out Darwin Ecosystem, a former military barracks on the right bank now consisting of an urban farm, an open-air gallery for graffiti artists from around the world and the largest organic restaurant in France. Venture through the Chartrons quarter, a former wine-trade hub now home to antique, design and curiosity. As a treat, staycation in the new eco-friendly Parcel cabin nestled in an organic vineyard in Saint-Emilion, just outside Bordeaux


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s