6 Unexpected Summer Weekend Getaways from Paris

Ile de Brehat. Image via Chambres d'Hotes & Cottages Les Cotes d'Armor

Summer, let’s be honest, is not Paris’ prime season, except for the swarms of tourists that do not know that there is virtually no air conditioning or locals around during the year’s warmer months. But for those who have to stay in the city during the week, the weekend is a perfect time to escape. Here’s a compilation of weekend getaways far-enough from Paris, yet totally manageable in a weekend-time.

Dune du Pilat

– Arcachon Bay area, France, 60 km from Bordeaux; just over 2 hours to Bordeaux on the new fast train

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Photo: Angelika Pokovba

Who knew there was a desert, the great sandbox of France, smack in the middle of the western coast? With hundreds of paragliders in the sky soaring like fireworks, this place is almost too good to be true. There are no accommodations on the actual dune, but it’s a close drive from Arcachon (the underappreciated real French Riviera) and not too far from Bordeaux.

Île-de-Bréhat 

– Northern coast of Brittany; about 4 hours from Paris by train or car

Photo: Angelika Pokovba

Brittany is jewel-box of secret enclaves, little islands, strictly blue window shutters, and dramatic tide changes. Off of the coast of a tiny fisherman’s village called Paimpol, the island is just a 10-minute ferry ride. There are absolutely no cars on the island and instead you’ll see the loveliest landscape, wildflowers, and eat all the oysters you can manage to eat.

Beaugency

– Loiret; under two hours from Paris 

The Loire Valley is really a collection of teeny-tiny villages all comprising the region filled with chateaux and fairytale landscapes. While all the villages are equally suitable for a weekend getaway, Beaugency is home to the Grand Hôtel de l’Abbaye where you can stop over for a luxurious night for just 119€ per night. While there, don’t miss the Château de Courances and Château de Chambord.

Annecy 

– Haute-Savoie; about 3 hours 40 minutes from Paris by train 

Photo: Angelika Pokovba

This dreamy town in the Haute-Savoie is a pure Venetian wonder in the middle of snow-caped mountains. The town is comprised of small segments of land divided by a series of canals that lead into Lake Annecy. Venture out to eat some fondue in the old town or go paragliding over the lake to experience the everything the city has to offer from within and up above.

Cassis 

– Bouches-du-Rhône; about 4 hours from Paris by train

Photo: Angelika Pokovba

There’s really nothing like Marseille and its surrounding area no matter how much animosity there is between the capital and the southern city. Real southerners know that it’s just a few hours on the SNCF and you’re in paradise. (No wonder darling haute-couture designer Jacquemus makes it down to his southern gem every week.) There’s really something in the bouillabaisse (fish soup) that leaves you wanting more. In case the chaotic city isn’t to your liking, neighboring Cassis is a calm, small port-town with the most placid coastline and hiking connecting the various Calanques.

Beaune 

– Burgundy; just over 2 hours by train

Image: The Cook’s Atelier / Facebook. Photo Credit: @smartanson

Just like a glass of good Burgundy, Beaune is a summer must. It’s one of those cities that really feels like home. Its green markets easily compete with those of Aix-en-Provence (and are way closer to Paris). You can also spend a weekend cooking in Beaune at The Cook’s Atelier with the sweetheart mother-daughter team that know everything there is to cuisine.