Planning To Visit France For The Olympics? Here Are 5 Popular Tourist Attractions And Their Less-Crowded Alternatives

Embrace serenity this summer by planning a French holiday away from the hustle and bustle of overcrowded destinations
The City of Love, Paris
The City of Love, Paris/ AdobeStock

While you don't particularly need an excuse to visit France, the number of big sporting events on the horizon this summer has seen more people making plans. One of the Big Four tournaments on the tennis circuit, the French Open is one of the most popular sporting spectacles of the year. In recent years, Rafael Nadal’s looming retirement means the demand for tickets at the venue where he has seen the most highs has also skyrocketed. This demand also means growing tourist influx to France and subsequently major crowds at the popular tourist attractions. With the upcoming Paris Olympics in 2024, these crowds as well as the entry fees to major destinations are only expected to escalate. We bring you five alternative spots that will ensure you spend a calming summer in the City of Love all the while being easy on your pocket.

Exploring Paris from a different lens

Montparnasse Tower: The tallest building in Paris, at 200 metres, is also the only skyscraper in the city. A viable alternative to Eiffel tower, Montparnasse offers views up to 25 miles or 40km in every direction on a cloudless day. The silhouette of the Eiffel tower is visible from here as well. There is an observatory with multimedia projections on the 56th floor, whereas the 59th floor boasts of an open-air terrace. The terrace also has a bar where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city with a glass of champagne. One of the newly introduced attractions is a VR experience that exhibits Paris through the Ages.

The Montparnasse Tower
The Montparnasse Tower/Google Images

O Chateau: If you are unable to visit the wine regions of France like Bordeaux and Alsace or are simply not in the mood to shell out the big bucks, this experience is ideal for you. O Chateau is a wine tasting class and tour rolled into one. Each group is assigned a sommelier to guide you through the process, you will learn how wines are made, the kinds of grapes used, how to read the labels, wine appreciation techniques and wine pairing with food.

There will additionally be a three-course meal paired with four different wines, including Champagne as well as a private tour of their cellar. This is a two-hour class and is located at 68 Jean Jacques Rousseau in the heart of Paris.

The Chartres Cathedral
The Chartres Cathedral

Bourges and Chartres Cathedral: With the Notre Dam Cathedral in Paris being closed to the public till December 2024, the average tourist’s wish to see French Gothic cathedrals can be fulfilled by taking a trip to Bourges Cathedral and the Chartres Cathedral.

Both these cathedrals are located a few hundred kilometres South of Paris in the Loire Valley. The Bourges Cathedral has survived the onslaught of the two World Wars as well as the French Revolution. It is also one of the best preserved monuments, retaining much of its stained glass from the 13th century and boasting a spectacular Western façade.

The Chartres Cathedral is thought to be the high point of Gothic art, with the most original architecture. It was built around the same as the Bourges Cathedral and also has the original stained glass from 13th century completely intact.

The Bourges Cathedral at night
The Bourges Cathedral at night

Blue Cove: The Cote Bleue, named after its azure blue waters, lies to the northwest of Marseilles and is the perfect alternative to the Cove of Marseilles. It has a number of small beaches and also offers private boat tours to explore the coves’ waters, its markets like Martigues or Sausset-les-Pins or find surfing spots. For the adventurer in you, it also has the Douaniers trail.

Chateau de Chantilly: Chateau De Versailles is a reminder of the glory of the French Empire, the burgeoning French Revolution and by extension the glory days of France. No wonder it ranks high on the list of travel itineraries for most tourists. However, amidst the ridiculous footfalls, Chateau de Chantilly emerges as the perfect getaway if you want to admire a castle in all its glory. Chantilly has gardens designed by Andre de Lotre, the man who was the gardener for Versailles. It is also home to the second largest collection of master paintings after the Louvre. There is a collection of small houses in one part of the gardens, called the Hamlet. If you are a lover of serenity and beauty, this is the place for you.

Chateau de Chantilly
Chateau de Chantilly/ Google Images

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