The 18 Countries To Discover Without Leaving France

Go to the four corners of the world while staying in France with our list of 18 countries to discover without leaving France!

Traveling around the world in search of fantastic landscapes, we quickly forget the topographical richness of the French territory. Forests, snow-capped mountains, coastline, canyons, France is a geographical and climatic crossroads. 

Do you want to stroll on beaches with turquoise water? Admire incredible panoramas at the top of a cliff or explore oriental monuments? Look no further.

This guide will take you all over France to discover paradisiacal corners. From the Pas-de-Calais to the Côte Vermeille, you will only need a handful of hours to get to these places at the crossroads of continents. Here is our selection of the 18 countries to discover without leaving France!

The 18 Countries To Discover Without Leaving France

1. Japan in Maulévrier

4 hours by car from Paris, the Parc Oriental de Maulévrier in Anjou will give you the impression of being in Japan. Founded in 1680 by Edouard François Colbert, this exceptional estate allows you to travel without ever leaving France.

Labeled “Remarkable Garden,” the site is recognized as the largest Japanese-inspired park in Europe. Drawing its origins from the Edo period, it brings together several essential elements:

● A lake and its water circulation are considered the “heart” of the garden;

● Two islands on the pond called “Crane Island” and “Turtle Island”;

● Points of perspective to admire the garden in its entirety;

● A natural or mythical landscape composed of mountains and rocky coasts;

● An Edo-inspired red bridge;

● Tropical vegetation, such as yews or bonsai.

2. Poland in Montrésor

Montrésor has a magnificent castle from the eleventh century on its lands. First a medieval fortress and then a Renaissance dwelling, it finally fell into Count Branicki, a great figure of Polish immigration. He moved there in 1849 and renovated part of the site.

The castle features stunning Second Empire style decoration and the impressive art gallery of Count Branicki. 1,000 years of art and history are on display and trace the history of Poland.

3. Colorado with Rustrel ochres

Within the Regional Natural Park of the Luberon, take a tour of the ochres of Rustrel. For cowboys, ·girls at heart, fulfill your western fantasy without leaving France!

Nicknamed the “Provencal Colorado,” this exceptional site in the Vaucluse department looks like a Grand Canyon

Its warmly colored landscapes contain many reliefs sculpted by erosion: cliffs, pitons, ravines, caves, and waterfalls. You can hike the ochre trail for 30 to 60 minutes to explore them.

Besides, if you want to experience this escape, visiting the no less famous Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon is also possible.

4. Cambodia at the Ideal Palace of the Horse Factor

After a strange dream, Ferdinand Cheval will devote 33 years of his life to building alone a dreamlike palace in his vegetable garden.

Inspired by nature, wildlife, and the fantastic, his uninhabitable palace brings together an incredible bestiary: octopus, doe, caiman… But one can also find mythical figures such as giants or fairies. 

The curves of the structure, mixed with the eastern architecture of the building, share similarities with the temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

After completing this guide, you will now understand that you do not have to look very far to discover the wonders of the world!

5. England in the Pas-de-Calais

Symbol of the English and French union, the castle of Hardelot is a rare pearl of the hexagon.

In the commune of Condette in Pas-de-Calais, this Windsor is the creation of Henry Guy, a British citizen. He built the castle on medieval remains and chose a neo-Tudor architecture typical of British mansions.

Due to John Whitley, co-founder of the resort Hardelot, the monument is experiencing a tourist boom. 

A cultural center of the Entente Cordiale, it opens its doors to the public to tell the story of the building and Franco-British relations from the beginning to the present.

6. Ireland in Etretat

Go to the end of France in the famous village of Étretat. This seaside resort attracts nearly a million tourists a year. The vertiginous chalk cliffs that line its coastline are what attract so many visitors.

For the more discerning, these stone giants could be compared to the Cliffs of Moher in Northern Ireland. 

The most visited natural site in the country, these masses of limestone and shale, whipped by the sea wind, show us that the environment of the British Isles is not so different from that of Normandy.

7. Canada in the Vosges

In the heart of the town of La Bresse in the Vosges department, the magnificent Lac des Corbeaux recalls the beauty of North America.

The high-altitude glacial lake is located at the foot of a ski resort of the same name. With its fir forests, peat bogs, and crystal clear water, you’ll feel like you’re setting foot in one of Canada’s boreal forests.

8. Italy in Corsica

Still staying on French territory, take the plane or ferry and head to Corsica. Once you get there, you will quickly notice that the island’s heritage shares a very similar style to Italy.

The island of Corsica has long been in dispute between the Republic of Pisa, Genoa, the Crown of Aragon, and the Kingdom of France. 

We can therefore find many colorful houses, also present on the Italian coast. The argument is also valid for the Romanesque churches that populate both countries.

9. Texas in the Camargue

The seventh destination on our tour, the Camargue, has everything of a tropical region. With its pink salt flats in Aigues-Mortes and its expanses of salt, it offers an almost extraterrestrial setting. 

It is also the deserts of the Camargue that can recall the “ranch” atmosphere of Texas.

By exchanging salt for sand, we find the arid environment, cracked soils, and radiant sun of the Texas Chihuahua desert in the French territory. 

But there are also manades in the Camargue. The places where bulls and horses are bred push the western atmosphere of both destinations even further.

10. Thailand in the Jura

One of the many wonders of the Jura can be found in the heart of the remote Planches. Thanks to its tropical forest setting, the Tufs waterfall, fed by the Cuisance River, takes us on a journey.

One is impressed by the waterfalls dripping on mossy rocks, the branches of the nearby ash trees imitating vines, and the basins of the Dar at its feet. 

This superb natural spectacle is immediately reminiscent of the waterfalls of Erawan, Na Muang, or Mae Ya in Thailand.

11. Russia in Nice

It might seem surprising, but Russia and the French Riviera are closely linked. Following the Crimean War, Nice welcomed the fleets of the imperial family in the 1850s. A large Russian community has formed in the city since that date.

And the monument that most symbolizes the alliance between the two countries is St. Nicholas Cathedral. Classified as a “Historical Monument,” it was built because of the large population of Russian Orthodox in Nice. With its colorful domes, the building is reminiscent of the Moscow Kremlin.

12. Australia at Lake Salagou

One of Australia’s flagship natural sites is the Outback and its wild bush. But for the sake of flying 19 hours, how about an hour of flight only to discover Lake Salagou?

This body of water in the center of the Hérault is dotted with hills of arid red rocks. 

Echoing the famous Australian Uluru, the extraordinary palette of colors, from the brick red of the “ruffes” to the black shades of basalt, perfectly matches the blues of the sky and the water of the lake.

13. Scotland in Lozère

Located in the Cévennes National Park, the Château du Champ is a prestigious building with Scottish architecture!

Or at least, that’s what one might think at first glance. Only open during Heritage Days, this former family property of the thirteenth century is reminiscent of the largest castles in Scotland, such as Balmoral, Edinburgh, or Inveraray.

14. Ancient Rome in Nîmes

Taking the train from Paris to Nîmes will only take you 3 hours. 21 m high and composed of two levels of arcades, the arena of Nîmes could be confused with the Colosseum of Rome. And yet, this monument is indeed located on French territory.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these arenas symbolize Roman occupation in Gaul and a picturesque medieval quarter. The illusion is total; it feels like Rome…

15. Polynesia in the Glénan archipelago

With its mild microclimate, turquoise waters, and colorful flora, the Glénan archipelago paints a paradisiacal setting worthy of French Polynesia.

This French town on the waters of Brittany in the Bay of Biscay will make you feel as if you’ve traveled without leaving France. It brings together a vibrant plant population. You can find mimosas, fig-trees, eucalyptus trees, or even palm trees. The only problem is that the temperature of the water will not be the same as in Polynesia.

16. Vietnam in Evry

The same love story as Russia and Nice, Evry is home to a huge Vietnamese community. Mostly faithful to Buddhism, the need for access to a place of worship was growing. 

Thus, in 1996, the construction of a pagoda began under the supervision of Venerable Thich Minh Tam.

This magnificent temple serves both as a place of practice and as a training center for future monks. But it aims to teach young Vietnamese born in France the traditions and culture of their country of origin.

17. Kenya in the Sigean Reserve

Located on the Vermeille coast, the African Reserve of Sigean is a zoological park transporting you to Africa without leaving France.

The animal park seeks to recreate the natural space of its animals. It leaves its occupants with a certain amount of freedom. Its objective is to maintain behaviors close to those observed in their environment of origin. 

The zoo tour will take you on a western safari to meet many animal species between ponds, marshes, pine forests, plains, and hills.

18. Mexico in Aigues-Mortes

In normal times, one might think that Mexico is only composed of desert landscapes. But one of the wonders of Central America is in the Yucatán Peninsula. 

Las Coloradas and its fishing village are home to a unique gem: the Rio Lagartos Nature Reserve. There are miles of beautiful pink lakes used for salt extraction.

But we also find this exotic landscape in France! As mentioned earlier, the salt flats of Aigues-Mortes offer a similar spectacle. 

Amidst the halobacteria-colored water, you will spot pink flamingos and salt hills in the distance.

After completing this guide, you will now understand that you do not have to look very far to discover the wonders of the world!

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