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Fall Foliage Travel in France

Peeping at the French Autumn Leaves

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Fall in Paris

Fall in Paris

Kevin Finneran

Fall is an ideal time to visit France, and autumn leaf peeping is one of the finest activities here. As if France weren't charming enough, seeing this country's cities and villages blazing with autumn colors is simply breathtaking. This is also the grape harvest season, and there are numerous festivals and activities around the country.

Where to go for the best leaf peeping

While you can find the colorful autumn leaves in many spots, there are some choice spots, including:
  • Strasbourg, which has a Germanic climate. While it is a large city, there are many trees, parks and gardens that reflect the autumn colors. A great fall activity is taking an evening stroll in La Petite France, gazing down at the river winding through the city. Cap the evening with a hearty, belly-warming Alsatian stew and a mug of frosty bière.
  • Loire Valley, which really comes to life in autumn. Not only can you see splendid leaves change colors for fall, but you can see them against a backdrop of elegant chateaux. The crisp weather in fall here is a fine complement to the lively Loire Valley white wines.
  • Limoux, a lovely southern wine city, will feature several vineyards turning splendid shades of gold and burnt orange. Since this is also harvest time, it's a great time to visit the home to the world's true first sparkling wine.
  • Montsegur, nestled close to the Pyrenees Mountains, is an ideal spot for viewing the fall colors. The autumn leaves come to life this time of year, and there are few better vantage points on earth than the top of Mount Pog, home to Montsegur Chateau and overlooking the quaint village of Montsegur.

Things to do in autumn

Although the frenzied crowds have dwindled now, there is still plenty to do while visiting France in autumn. Some of the best bets include:
  • Rent a car and meander aimlessly into the countryside. You'll want to have a decent road map, of course. But one of the best ways to see the fall foliage is to get out into the country where there is, coincidentally, no shortage of trees.
  • Go on a wine tour. During this harvest time of year, you can get a bonus. Not only will you see the lovely leaves on the trees, but also on the grape vines. And, of course, you can sample some great wines.
  • Celebrate Beajolais Nouveau's Release, one of France's most momentous events. Each November, the world awaits the release of this young, light red wine. You can do it right there in France.
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