The 10 most beautiful (and original) places to photograph in France
Photo credit: Anita Costa
At Meero, we love to explore, we love beautiful pictures, and we know that our community of photographers are in the same frame of mind. (Ba Dum Tss!) It’s the beginning of the new decade and it’s time to make your list of places you want to see and photograph! Here are some of our recommendations in our home country of France.
Between its big cities, its charming little villages, its majestic mountain ranges, its seashores, and its wild lakes, France is full of little-known gems that don’t include getting trampled by tourists. So, book your flights and get ready: Here are our Top 10 of the most unusual places to photograph in France!
1. Lake Allos
Lake Allos is an alpine lake located in the Mercantour National Park, (in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). At an altitude of 2,230 meters (1.38 miles), it is overlooked by Mount Pelat.
The lake is in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by fir trees, which a talented photographer can use to frame their images or give them a feeling of depth. Do you prefer peace and quiet to compose your photos? That's good: Lake Allos is not very touristy, you won't be bothered by the crowd! The ideal setting to photograph nature.
2. Port Grimaud
Port Grimaud is a small lakeside village located in the heart of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez.
It looks like Venice, doesn't it? That's why it is also known as "Provincial Venice." You probably find it hard to believe that this place is on the French Riviera, only 100 kilometers south of Nice. A charming little port, full of boats, with adorable little colorful houses... An atypical and unusual place and a photographer’s paradise!
3. Les Ocres de Rustrel (Vaucluse)
Oui oui, nous sommes bien en France !
Yes, that was actually taken in France!
The Ocher Quarries of Rustrel have been called "The Provincial Colorado" and forms a breathtaking sight in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. The colored ocher sands of about thirty different shades offer you a truly unique landscape. The warm colors of the cliffs and earthen paths combined with greenery and a bright blue sky promise to make for great images. Even with a grey sky, the liveliness of the ocher will stand out wonderfully in your photos! An ideal place for photographic panoramas with a "Wow" effect!
4. Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe in Le Puy-en-Velay
Impressive, isn't it?
The Saint-Michel church is a Romanesque church located in Aiguilhe, in the commune of Puy-en-Velay, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. As you can see, the church is perched on a gigantic 82-meter high rock, which used to be a volcanic peak. It’s up to you to play with the contrast between the town and this chapel in order to create an original photo. A piece of advice: don't hesitate to plan your shoot at night, the chapel and the rock are both lit up!
5. Carennac Village… the jewel of the Dordogne Valley
Carrenca is located in the Lot department, in the southwest of France.
This small village is one of the most beautiful in France, and its monuments are worth a visit. Within the village, you’ll discover a medieval priory, combining an 11th-century church and cloister, as well as a 16th-century castle. A real little corner of paradise, where a passionate photographer will go snap-crazy. The small cobbled streets and the vegetation crawling over every surface are so full of photogenic charm.
6. Osselle Caverns
The Osselle Caverns are an 8 kilometer long cave near Osselle, 25 kilometers from Besançon, with one part in the Doubs mountains and the other in the Jura mountains. Discovered in the 13th century, it is, along with the Antiparos cave in Greece, the oldest known tourist cave. The Osselle Caverns are also the location of the world's largest den of cave bears. It’s an impressive cave that is worth a visit, and is a great location to take interesting long exposure photos, thanks to the incredible mood lighting!
7. Beauport Abbey
Beauport Abbey is located in the commune of Paimpol in the Côtes-d'Armor department of Brittany. A true Gothic masterpiece overlooking the sea, where peace and quiet is the order of the day, even in the middle of July!
You can stroll in the heart of the ruins, in an open space covered with flowers and wild vegetation. Beauport Abbey gives you every opportunity to take grandiose photos steeped in romance and history. Take advantage of the space between the arches giving a unique photo opportunity, and showing off a panoramic view of the sea.
Bonus: the adorable little port of Paimpol is just a stone's throw away!
8. Espelette Village
Espelette is located in the heart of the Basque Country, in New Aquitaine, on the Spanish border. What’s so special about this village? The Espelette chili pepper!
You didn't notice anything old on the facade of the house above? Take a good look around the windows... They are bunches of chili peppers hung on the walls. There are hundreds of them, practically on every house, all white with red shutters.
This unconventional village will certainly enchant you and your lens! What's more, the hospitality and kindness of the Basque inhabitants could even lead you to stay a little longer than expected...
9. Cirque de Navacelles
The Cirque de Navacelles is located in Occitania, in the south of France.
It is formed by a bend in the river Vis winding its way through impressive gorges between the Larzac plateau in the south and the Blandas plateau in the north. In the center of the cirque is the hamlet of Navacelles, made up of charming little houses.
This site offers you a breathtaking and unbeatable view as soon as you get a little higher. The panorama is exceptional and worth the detour! A small piece of advice: go there in autumn, the colors will leave you speechless!
10. Gouville Beaches
The beach of Gouville is located in Gouville-sur-Mer, in the department of Eure, in Normandy. On the dunes are dozens of small white huts with roofs of all colors, called "Cabines de Gouville," which are now part of the cultural and architectural heritage of the town.
These little booths have a story:
At the beginning of the 20th century, when tourists and the fashion for sea bathing arrived, there was only one hotel in the commune. Guests of this hotel had the opportunity to go to the beach in a horse-drawn carriage. Of course, it was out of the question at that time to go out in the street in a bathing suit. The horse-drawn cart would take them to these small cabins so that they could change out of sight. The cabins were destroyed in 1940 during the occupation of France, but seventy of them were later rebuilt! These booths are often the source of inspiration for local or visiting painters, so why not photographers? It's up to you to enhance them and give them a second life!
Preserving these places is crucial
If you visit some of these places, be careful to keep them as beautiful as they are. Some places that are heavily visited in search of the beautiful image have been badly deteriorated in recent years. Seemingly paradisiacal places have been ransacked by excessive visitors and poorly controlled over-tourism.
Please behave respectfully and carefully read the environmental protection guidelines of the national parks and sites you are in. These places are still in good condition for photographers, it’s important to keep them that way for the next camera-wielding traveler!
So, if you are looking for atypical places to photograph, don't hesitate to set off on an adventure and explore these magnificent places! France has so much to offer besides the typical tourist destinations you’ve already heard about a million times. What's more, it's an opportunity to discover France in a different light and see its richness and diversity.
If you liked this article, check out this interview with travel photographer Grégory Vigier, right here!