The best destinations for fall foliage in France

Loire Valley in autumn, photo by Francisco J Gonzalez

An autumn without any red and gold leafs is not exactly a great autumn, and anyone who has ever enjoyed the crunch of dry leaves under their feet will tell you so. Luckily, if you find yourself in France this autumn, you won’t have to part with the traditional autumn atmosphere, because there are plenty of places in France where you can get as much fall foliage as you want. Besides, after the dead month of August, autumn is the season when France’s cities and towns come to life again and resume their usual bustle. Trees draped in brilliant colors, a cup of cafe au lait on a sidewalk cafe or in a thermos, what more could you want from a French autumn? Here are some of the best destinations for fall foliage in France.

Loire Valley

Many Europeans say that the Loire Valley is the best destination for leaf peeping on the entire continent, and while that might be a slight exaggeration, the facts are that few places can compare with the beauty of the Loire Valley in autumn. All those magnificent castles get a truly fairy-tale like glow when surrounded by oceans of orange and red leaves.

Provence

Provence looks nothing less than scenic any time of the year, but if you’re visiting this enchanting region in time for the autumn grape picking, you will be rewarded not only with wine and grape juice and amazing cuisine, but also plenty of opportunities to marvel at the gilded leaves. Not only the forests turn into red-orange, but the vineyards as well, and there’s nothing better than taking a stroll through an autumn colored vineyard while sipping a good old wine.

Vosges

The Vosges mountains are the place to go for some of the most brilliant fall foliage in France, and since it’s mountains we’re talking about, you can be pretty sure of seeing some foliage throughout the autumn, albeit at different altitudes. The Vosges have no shortage of natural wonders, and there are hiking trails in these great mountains that are fit for every skill level. No maple trees, so you won’t see the same range of reds as in New England, but still lovely.

Montségur, Ariège department

Montségur, nestled in the Pyrenees is one of the best destinations for fall foliage in France, not only because the leaves in the mountains turn an alluring shade of orange, but also because Montségur is the site of one of the finest Cathar castles in Europe. The ruins of the ancient fort is one of the best vantage points for leaf peeping that one could wish for.

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