10 Tropical Francophone Winter Getaways To Start Planning Now

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Photo above: Seychelles

France is delightful. But when the chills hit and winter takes over, sometimes it’s nice to take a tropical vacation. Now that Covid is mostly waning, you might be finally, after two-plus long years of feeling confined, looking for a Francophone holiday…and….perhaps one that’s somewhere a tad warmer than France in December?

In fact, there are quite a few tropical Francophone destinations scattered across the globe thanks to French colonialism in the 19th century. While colonialism is roundly considered, to borrow from President Emmanuel Macron, a “grave mistake,” it also introduced the French language to many different corners of the world.

Today French is the language of 29 independent countries, a lot of them in tropical areas, but also to French “overseas territories”, the residents of which are all French citizens. Five (Guadeloupe and Martinique, the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion and Mayotte, and the South American coastal territory of French Guiana) are considered French departments, meaning that they are subject to French law. Another five territories are considered overseas collectives ( French Polynesia in the South Pacific, the Polynesian archipelago of Wallis and Futuna, the Caribbean islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, and the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon) which allows for more autonomy and their own statutory laws. A few additional territories are like New Caledonia, which has the autonomy to hold independence referendums. The United Nations actually classifies New Caledonia and French Polynesia as non-self-governing territories, while the other territories belong to the European Union.

So, if you’re hankering for French language and warm weather this winter, Frenchly has got you covered with idyllic beach destinations that remind us little of the homeland beyond the spoken language: French. Thinking of heading to Africa or over to the Caribbean, or maybe even the South Pacific? There are plenty of Francophone vacation options wherever you go.

Seychelles

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You know it’s paradise if even the British Royal family vacations there! (Prince Charles and the Dutches of Cambridge famously honeymooned in Seychelles.) Located in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles, independent since 1976, is an archipelago composed of 115 picturesque islands surrounded by azure waters and is rich in biodiversity. It features mountains, pristine beaches, jungles and rainforest. However, Seychelles is endangered due to plastic pollution, climate change and overfishing all of which are threatening its marine ecosystem. As a result, the island nation is investing in marine conservation to protect its oceans– and much of the cash for this investment comes from tourism which is one of the two pillars of its economy (the second is fishing.) Looking for positive impact travel? Consider Seychelles–your vacation will contribute to the health of its oceans and thus worldwide oceans as well.

Morocco

The North African destination of Morocco is a colorful and rich destination marked by cities like Marrakech, Fes, Casablanca, Tangier and Chefchaouen that will transport you into a world full of spice, urgency, and drama. From the dunes on the beaches, to the mountains, deserts (including the world’s largest hot desert) and more, it is a unique destination and a culinary feast for the gourmand. It also just happens to be an incredibly Instagrammable destination.

Saint Barthélemy

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Hop on over to the Caribbean where the warm waters and light ocean breezes cradle one into full-vacation mode. Known for its luxe vibes, yachts, and influential guests, the French island of Saint Barts is a modern-day Saint-Tropez of the ’80s. The hilly, red-roofed island is also marked by one of the most stunning airport runways in the world where the planes descend directly over the swoon-worthy beaches and into the airport just behind the coastline. While the party scene is popping, the island is also seeking creative ways to address pollution and marine life preservation by urging eco-conscious travel.

Île de Reunion

The island of Reunion, off the coast of Madagascar, is a French island with volcanoes, coral reefs, jungles and the gorgeous Indian Ocean surrounding it. It is full of activities to explore like hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing, as well as plenty of breathtaking views. It almost looks like a tropical Iceland and is actually one of 34 hot spots of biodiversity in the world Additionally, Reunion is a small island with a significant ecological goal:by 2030 the island hopes to have energy independence thanks to the island’s solar panel systems. Greta Thunberg, are you hearing this?

French Guiana

The perfect crossroads between South American and French cultures, French Guiana is also the wealthiest country in South America. It is rich in biodiversity, ecology and other natural resources that make it a continuously attractive destination for nature-lovers. Its jungles and rainforest host an abundance of wildlife. For example, scientists say that Guiana has 100,000 species of insects, of which only 18,000 have already been identified. It remains one of the few untouched, and often overlooked corners of the world.

Martinique

 

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The Caribbean hosts quite a few French territories, and Martinique might be the gemstone of them all. Its white-sand beaches are amongst some of the most beautiful in the world, while its secluded coves offer an air of romance and the colonial towns bring us back to Europe. The island hosts a lush tropical ambiance by being home to the richest tree diversity in the Lesser Antilles with 396 species, of which 20% are endemic to the island itself.

Guadeloupe

Martinique’s sister island, Guadeloupe, is the South of France –in the Caribbean. It’s mountainous terrain pours directly into the Caribbean Sea and is postcard perfect. Try to island hop while you’re at it, as it is only a 45 minute flight between the two for about  $150/200 roundtrip during the high season. Guadeloupe is one the world’s 25 richest areas in terms of biodiversity.

French Polynesia

 

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The South Pacific overseas collectivity of France has more than 100 islands including some more well-known ones like Bora Bora, Tahiti, Maupiti and Mo’orea. This paradise of islands boasts white, pink and black beaches, turquoise lagoons, coral reefs, and overwater bungalows. In fact, many of its areas are ecologically protected due to the fragile nature and the number of endemic species in the area.

New Caledonia

 

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Just off the coast of Australia, New Caledonia is known for its idyllic beaches and relaxed atmosphere. The activity-filled island also offers an incredible chance to submerge in the rich underwater world filled with beautiful, and some dangerous, sea creatures. The fluorescent arrangement of corals and an array of endemic species will truly blow your mind away as it is one of the only places in the world with such marine diversity. On land, New Caledonia’s remarkable plant diversity consists of 3,261 species of indigenous flora (74% endemic), nearly as many as on the whole of continental Europe. Thus, this tiny island is the smallest single biodiversity hotspot in the world.

Curaçao

 

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You might be thinking the sky-blue alcoholic beverage, but we’re really thinking about the South American island: Curaçao. Just 50km off the coast of Venezuela, this colorful island blends both Dutch and Spanish colonial styles, and is a charming getaway for both scuba enthusiasts and casual vacation loungers. Watch the sunrise and the sunset, swim with the giant turtles, explore the island’s perfect beaches and scuba dive in one of the world’s most coveted places. In fact, Curaçao is the “C” in the three most desirable ABC scuba diving spots of the world (after Aruba and Bonaire.)

 

Angelika Pokovba is a lifestyle writer with a francophile soul and is based in the depths of the Mayan jungle in Mexico. After studying journalism in Paris, she worked at L’Officiel and Essentiel Homme magazines, and contributed to several fashion publications in between.

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