undiscovered france

Okay, let's be honest; there isn't any 'undiscovered France', those good people of the Institut National de l'Information Géographique et Forestière have contrived to find it all. And, to dispel another myth, much of what is described as 'medieval', is anything but.     

For the record, in European history, the Medieval period (also known as the Middle Ages), lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance (14th-17th centuries) and the Age of Discovery (early 15th-17th century). The Middle Ages is the middle period of three traditional divisions of Western history: Antiquity, Medieval and Modern. There is very little in France remaining from this era.

But, there are parts of France that, compared to Provence, the Alps, Ile de France, Brittany, the French Riviera and Languedoc, are relatively undiscovered. Yet, surprise, surprise, even here you'll find supermarkets, people driving modern cars, farmers using modern machinery, high-speed Internet and 3G.

In every part of France, there are places ignored by the masses; places that don't figure on 'Tick Lists', and are all the better for it. Here are a few examples; places you won't regret visiting.

The Forêt de Fontainebleau is a large forested area dotted with rocky outcrops, and well provided with walking and cycling trails.

Franche Comté lies just to the north of Switzerland, and comprises most of the French Jura mountains. It is a beautiful rural area, famed for its cheeses and its clocks: the regional capital Besançon is a UNESCO world heritage site. 

The Auvergne is another mountainous region, with much to offer in terms of natural heritage and scenery, and even more in terms of historic monuments and cultural tourism. Lying away from the traditional routes to the south of France, the Auvergne has yet to develop its potential in terms of outdoor tourism. 

Midi-Pyrénées, stretching from the Auvergne to the border with Spain, is the largest and one of the most rural regions of France, very diversified, and full of history, magnificent landscapes and opportunities to enjoy a break away from the crowds.  

Other 'undiscovered' regions include Burgundy – touristy along the wine trails, but otherwise quite unexplored, and Limousin, a rural area of hills and valleys to the west of the Auvergne. Aude, too, part of greater Languedoc-Roussillon, is a place of many nooks and crannies, not least the idyllic Minerve, which is worth a day of anyone's time.

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