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Summer holidays in France: our alternative destinations to spots saturated with tourists

The islands of Lérins rather than Porquerolles

200 inhabitants during the year, but thousands of tourists a day in summer: the island of Porquerolles, the largest and westernmost of the three islands of Hyères, has seen its attendance jump with the pandemic, to the point that n the summer of 2021, the mayor of Porquerolles made the decision to limit access to the island to a maximum of 6,000 visitors each day.

To find its landscapes of fine sandy beaches and turquoise and transparent waters, head for the Lérins Islands, a little further north. Located 15 minutes by boat from Cannes, the island of Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the archipelago, but the island of Saint-Honorat is just as pleasant.

The island of Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the Lérins islands. maudanros

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⋙ These alternative destinations that resemble the most popular tourist destinations

The volcanoes of Auvergne, closer than the Piton de la Fournaise

Do you want to discover the fabulous world of volcanoes? For this, it is not necessarily necessary to fly several hours to get to Reunion, discover the Piton de la Fournaise, which is one of the only three active volcanoes in France (along with Soufrière in Guadeloupe and the Montagne Pelée in Martinique)… and is extremely busy!

⋙ 4 amazing things to know about volcanoes

Although inactive, the 80 or so volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys, also called Monts Dôme, in the north of the Massif Central, in mainland France, are indeed worth the detour. Over nearly 32 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide, this natural site classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is of great scientific and educational interest.

The Chaîne des Puys is made up of around 80 inactive volcanoes. Photographer Chris Archinet

⋙ The Chaîne des Puys in Auvergne classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site

Discover Guéthary and avoid the crowds in Biarritz

The Rocher de la Vierge, the aquarium of Biarritz, Les Halles but also the fishing port… so many sites as friendly as tourist in the city of Biarritz, which are overloaded on sunny days.

⋙ Basque Country: how did it become the “Little French California”?

To vary the pleasures, why not go to Guéthary, located between Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz? Called Getaria in Basque, this village nestled in the Bay of Biscay was once a port dedicated to whale, sardine and tuna fishing.

Today, this attractive neo-Basque seaside resort is appreciated for its architecture, its sites of historical interest and its fine sandy beaches. Surfing enthusiasts will not be left out, especially on the Parlementia beach.

⋙ 5 unsuspected surf spots in the world

The Parlementia beach, in Guéthary, is popular with surfers. Oliver Strewe

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Explore the Côte Bleue rather than the Calanques of Marseille

This is a first in the history of the Calanques National Park, in Marseille: this summer 2022, a quota system will be put in place from the end of June to the end of August to access the Calanque de Sugiton – you will have to reserve your place on the My Calanques application. The goal ? Limit access to its pebble beaches to 300 people per day, compared to 2,000 during peak attendance in 2020 and 2021.

⋙ A “visiting permit” will be tested for the first time this summer in the Calanques of Marseille

To avoid damaging the beaches, victims of erosion, and the sublime pines that populate the creek, go to the Blue Coast, a stretch of Mediterranean coast to the northwest of the Marseille city: its creeks have nothing to do with envy those of the National Park!

Calanque de Méjean, Calanque de Niolon, Calanque de la Redonne but also Calanque de l’Erevine: you will be spoiled for choice, with always breathtaking landscapes, composed of crystal clear waters and small coves.

Several creeks are part of the Blue Coast, near Marseille. Jean-Luc Ichard

Go to Soulac-sur-Mer to change from the Arcachon basin

With its postcard landscapes, the Arcachon basin has something to dream about, with its oyster huts, the Banc d’Arguin, and the emblematic Lège-Cap-Ferret. The other side of the decor is unfortunately the consequences of mass tourism, starting with the best known – and most frequented – place in the basin: the Dune du Pilat, which sees two million visitors pass through a extremely fragile ecosystem.

⋙ What are the most beautiful places in Arcachon?

In the same spirit, let’s go a little further north, without leaving the Gironde: in Soulac-sur-Mer, there are neo-colonial style villas, beautiful beaches and oysters, but also a Basilica listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unesco. From Soulac, you can also see the Cordouan lighthouse, built in the 16th century on a rocky islet, and nicknamed the “Versailles of the Seas”.

⋙ Gironde: the Cordouan lighthouse reopens in April, renovated and embellished

Soulac-sur-Mer, north of the Gironde, sometimes looks like Arcachon. Eric Cowez

Opt for the Sioule gorges, which change from the Verdon gorges

In Provence, the Gorges du Verdon are the largest canyon in Europe, but also one of the busiest. And we understand why, to observe its walls which can reach up to 700 meters in height, and to see its panoramas as sumptuous as they are unique…well, almost, because there are other canyons which deserve a look. eye in France.

For example, the Sioule gorges, steep and verdant, straddling the departments of Allier and Puy-de-Dôme. To discover this paradise for fishermen, a descent of the Sioule by canoe-kayak, departing from the Pont de Menat, is possible. In addition, several swimming spots punctuate the river for nature lovers!

The Sioule gorges, straddling the Allier and the Puy-de-Dôme, have nothing to envy the Verdon gorges. lucentius

Did you like the Gavarnie circus? You will love the Estaubé circus

In the Pyrenees, there is a glacial cirque which houses in its heart one of the highest waterfalls in Europe: the Cirque de Gavarnie, which rises to 3,000 meters above sea level and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Problem: this is one of the busiest sites in the department.

Even if the site is large enough to receive large numbers of people, it is better to turn to more confidential destinations, like the Cirque d’Estaubé, still near the Franco-Spanish border. Also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is wilder than Gavarnie and has a lake and a dam.

The Cirque d’Estaubé is wilder than the Cirque de Gavarnie. Guillaume Baviere

In Corsica, prefer the pRoccapina Beach to the beaches of Palombaggia or Santa Giulia

Among the most beautiful beaches in Corsica, those of Porto-Vecchio are surely the most sublime, whether it is Palombaggia and its pines, or Santa Giulia and its heavenly waters. In summer, however, we wish you a lot of courage to find a square of sand where you can unroll your towel!

If the names of the “confidential” beaches in Corsica are less and less secret, let’s still mention the wild and turquoise beach of Roccapina, halfway between Bonifacio and Sartène, less frequented because it is more difficult to access. Also known for its Lion, Roccapina is reminiscent of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean!

⋙ Internet users elect “the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean in 2021”

Caribbean or Corsica, difficult to locate the beach of Roccapina! Laurent Breiss

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Read also:

10 destinations to avoid this summer to protect yourself from mass tourism

10 destinations to avoid this summer to protect yourself from mass tourism

The techniques of the Basque Country to get out of mass tourism

The techniques of the Basque Country to get out of mass tourism

To protect French beaches from mass tourism, WWF launches operation “I Protect Nature” on Instagram

To protect French beaches from mass tourism, WWF launches operation “I Protect Nature” on Instagram

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