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Top 10 Hidden Travel Gems

During your next French vacation impress all your friends by visiting one of these 'off the beaten path' travel gems!

Paris

Passy

Not far from the hordes of tourists at the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero is Passy. This neighborhood still has the feel of a village, as that's what it once was. Nice covered market (below) at Place de Passy. Also stop by Parc de Passy and hang out with locals.
16th arrondissement, metro line 6, stop Passy or RER C stop Avenue du Président Kennedy.


Picpus Cemetery

Picpus Cemetery, Paris' largest private cemetery is the final resting place of Gilbert du Motier - Marquis de Lafayette. Also final home to 1,306 victims of the terror between June 14 and 27 July 1794, as the the guillotine was set up in nearby Place de la Nation, then called Place du Trône Renversé.
35 rue de Picpus, 12th arrondissement, metro lines 1, 6 and 9 stops Nation, Picpus and Bel-Air.


Petite Ceinture

This once belt - ceinture railroad encircled Paris. The Petite Ceinture had its first voyageurs in 1854 and last in 1934. Parts are still visiable and 5 stations are used by RER C.
You can walk the Petite Ceinture in the 15th arrondissement starting at rue Olivier de Serres. Arrondissement by arrondissement map.


Alps

Parc de Merlet

This nature reserve has hiking trails, small forest and meadows. Its sandbox must have the best view of any in the world!
Open May to September
2495 Chemin de Merlet
74310 Les Houches, France

+33 4 50 53 47 89


Alsace

Signal de Grendelbruch

WWI military cemetery has great views of the Vosges Mountains and is the start of many hiking trails. Great place to get back to nature :).
Above the village of Grendelbruch, follow signs for Signal de Grendelbruch.


Burgundy

Village church of Ameugny

Building on the church started sometime before 1050. After this first phase another, took place between 1167 and 1184. Of note are the views of the Burgundy countryside, stone engraving over the doorway and the grave of Etienne Mayneaud de Lavaux, that local legend has it, was buried standing up!
Saône-et-Loire department, off D981 road near Cluny.


American University (A.E.F University)

Did you know that Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy was once home to an American University? From February to June 1919 A.E.F had 9,500 students! Three barracks are still standing and there is a commemorative plaque on rue du Docteur Tassin.
East of the center of Beaune. Use bus line 23, stop Camp Américain. To get an idea of location, on Google Maps search 'Le Camp Américain, Beaune, France'.


Jura Mountains

Glacieres de Sylans

Ever wonder where Paris got its ice before refrigeration? Well for a time, some came from the Glacieres de Sylans on the edge of Lake Sylans. Today the ice-house is long closed but there is a nice self guided walking tour with views of the lake. Along the walk are yesteryear photographs of Glacieres de Sylans during its heyday.
Just off the A40 Autoroute, exit 9 Nantua les Neyrolles. Turn right on the main road after getting off the Autoroute. Glacieres de Sylans is soon on your left. Can also be viewed from the A40 eastbound rest area Le Lac.


Dinoplagne

This really is hidden, under a layer of cement. Dinoplagne has the longest known dinosaur path and biggest footprints in the world. Discovered in 2009 and opened to the public in 2010, just a year later Dinoplagne was closed and the dinosaur path covered for its own protection. Since that time funding has been sought and it is hoped that Dinoplagne will reopen in 2015.
Near the village of Plagne off the D49 road.


Lorraine

Nonsard-Lamarche

With the 100th anniversary of WWI, many will get close to Nonsard-Lamarche but few will stop and visit. Nonsard-Lamarche was the location of an iconic photo (below) of American solders during the battle of St. Mihiel.
At the intersection of the D179 and D133 roads in the Meuse department. Near St. Mihiel and the St. Mihiel American Cemetery. Accessable from the A4 Autoroute between Reims and Metz.

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