International travelers may prioritize visits to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre when they visit France. But French residents have other ideas.
Border restrictions during the pandemic largely gave locals the chance to explore their country without foreign tourists, which in 2019 numbered some 90 million.
The French did not squander the opportunity. More than two-thirds of French residents traveled in 2021, with 84% of France’s metropolitan residents choosing to stay within the country, according to the French tourism marketing research firm Raffour Interactif.
As the desire for nature and outdoor activities grew during the pandemic, several areas emerged as top destinations among local travelers, said Maud Bailly, the CEO of southern Europe for the multinational hospitality company Accor, which has more than 1,600 hotels in France.
Domestic travelers were drawn to the coasts of Brittany — or Bretagne in French — because of the “the sea [and] the wideness of the landscape,” she said. The northwest province is home to charming seaside towns, such as Cancale and the walled port city of Saint-Malo, famous for its gastronomy and history.